Thursday, October 20, 2011

Beekeeping for Beginners

Beekeeping for Beginners / Laurie R. King
An e-novella (available here)

This short novella takes fans of King's Sherlock Holmes/Mary Russell stories back to the the point at which Russell literally stumbles over Holmes on the Suffolk downs and amazes him with her brilliance. Holmes has retired and is now keeping bees (a mystery in themselves) and Russell is trying to spend her time on the downs away from her abusive aunt and sly, ill-intentioned cousin. Inevitably, they meet.

It was a delightful read, perfect as an introduction to these two at the beginning of their relationship -- great if you haven't read any of the marvellous Mary Russell books yet, but also great if you have. I was trying to remember the details of the first book as I read this story in order to tie the different perspectives on their meeting together.

It's brief and serves as a concise introduction to Mary Russell herself and to Laurie King's take on the well-known characters of Sherlock Holmes, John Watson, and even Mrs. Hudson. Mary's brilliance is made clear and Holmes' admiration for her, unusual though that might be, makes sense in Laurie King's world.

I love Sherlock Holmes, and the only 'rewrite' of his character that I can stand is this series. King is able to create a fresh story that still hews closely to the feel of the original stories and the original characters. This story lays the groundwork for all the adventures and drama that follow upon the meeting of two minds here...well worth the read for that alone. But it also gives us a gentler side of Holmes, especially in his capacity as beekeeper. I've reviewed this story and talked about the life lessons found in beekeeping at my Four Rooms business blog as part of a bibliotherapy series I add to now and again, and love how Holmes' Rules of Beekeeping have such great application to the social lives of humans as well as bees :)

It's a fun read and a reminder that a reread of this fabulous series would not go amiss. If you haven't discovered it yet, treat yourself to an introduction to Mary Russell. You won't be sorry!


  1. I completely agree with you about King's writing of the Sherlock Holmes character. I think that because she juxtaposes his character to that of Mary Russell's. Somehow it all comes across as believable. My favourite of the series was one I recently read, Justice Hall. I found it almost lyrical with the way she described that amazing house and countryside. And I found also the story about the young soldier (not wanting to give anything away here!) poigant. Fantastic series. :)

  2. I read the first book in this series and then sort of stalled. I need to get back to it! Instead I started reading the actual Sherlock Holmes books. I have since stalled on that, too...

  3. scribeswindow - yes, it's the balance between Holmes and Russell that's so appealing! And of course the fantastic writing. Justice Hall was a good one, very atmospheric.

    Kailana - lol, isn't it funny that we make big plans and then stall out? At least the books are always there for when we want them again :)

  4. I'm a Holmes purist too--the only "re-write" books I've ever liked are the Enola Holmes MG novels. King's work sounds wonderful--I'm reserving them at the library right away. Thanks!

  5. I keep meaning to read these books - you've spurred me to greater efforts to find, and make time for them!

  6. I've just just checked the library catalogue but don't see this title, though THE LANGUAGE OF BEES is there, among other things. (Don't know the author, but love her bee theme!). Any suggestions where to begin?

  7. Niranjana - I've always wondered if I should try the Enola Holmes...will have to pick one up!

    Geranium Cat - I really do enjoy this series, hope you will like them too when you get time to start them :)

    Carin - I think this was only an ebook, available on her site? I'd suggest beginning at the beginning with this series (The Beekeeper's Apprentice) really does build over each book and you'd get the most out of it by starting with the first book. The list is here:


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