Reviews for Beekeeper's Apprentice : Or on the Segregation of the Queen


The Book Report Reviews 1995 May-June
The story of Mary Russell is written as if King were an editor who received the manuscript in a trunk with a collection of Sherlock Holmes' disguises and detection paraphernalia delivered by UPS from an unknown source. A section labeled "Prelude: Author's Note" is signed with the initials M.R.H. (Mary Russell Holmes?) Thus starts a novel with a fairly sophisticated construction: various sections are introduced by selections from a treatise on beekeeping. Paired with these, we find allusions to Holmes' hobby of beekeeping and thus the title of this book. The story is set in southern England and spans 1915 to about 1919, a few years after the time of the Sherlock Holmes stories of A. Conan Doyle. The milieu of austerity imposed by World War I is in the background but doesn't really impinge on the plot. Mary is 15 when she first stumbles across Holmes out on the Sussex Downs. She is reading Virgil; he is tracking bees. Immediately, they recognize each other's immense intelligence and become kindred spirits. Holmes teaches Mary everything he knows, and the two finally tangle with the daughter of his old enemy Moriarty who happens to be Mary's oxford math tutor. Holmes must prove his confidence in Mary's abilities by putting both his life and hers on the line. This book would be challenging reading for most high school students, but those who read Doyle would enjoy it. Recommended. By Barbara Foraker, Librarian, Cherokee High School, Rogersville, Tennessee © 1995 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 1994 January #1
Sherlock Holmes takes on a young, female apprentice in this delightful and well-wrought addition to the master detective's casework. In the early years of WW I, 15-year-old American Mary Russell encounters Holmes, retired in Sussex Downs where Conan Doyle left him raising bees. Mary, an orphan rebelling against her guardian aunt's strictures, impresses the sleuth with her intelligence and acumen. Holmes initiates her into the mysteries of detection, allowing her to participate in a few cases when she comes home from her studies at Oxford. The collaboration is ignited by the kidnapping in Wales of Jessica Simpson, daughter of an American senator. The sleuthing duo find signs of the hand of a master criminal, and after Russell rescues the child, attempts are made on their lives (and on Watson's), with evidence piling up that the master criminal is out to get Holmes and all he holds dear. King ( A Grave Talent ) has created a fitting partner for the Great Detective: a quirky, intelligent woman who can hold her own with a man renowned for his contempt for other people's thought processes. (Feb.) Copyright 1994 Cahners Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 1994 July
YA-At 15, Mary Russell is tall and gangling, bespectacled and bookish. In 1915, the orphaned heiress is living in her ancestral home with an embittered aunt she has plucked from genteel poverty to act as a guardian until she reaches her majority. In order to escape the woman's generally malevolent disposition, she wanders the Downs. On one such outing, she trips over a gaunt, elderly man sitting on the ground, ``watching bees.'' This gentleman turns out to be Sherlock Holmes, and the resulting acquaintance evolves into a mentoring experience for the young woman. The story is well written in a style slightly reminiscent of Conan Doyle's, but is also very much King's own. The plot is somewhat predictable, but the characterizations are excellent and the times and places are skillfully evoked. Readers come to understand much of Holmes that was unexplained by Dr. Watson. These additions are entirely plausible, and the relationship between the great detective and his apprentice is delightful. Readers see much of Sussex, London, and even of student life at Oxford and the conditions of Romanies (Gypsies) in Wales. Wartime Britain is accurately evoked, and the whole is a lot of fun to read. While a fitting addition to the Holmes oeuvre, the narrative is delightfully feminist. It is likely to please YAs already entranced by Sherlock Holmes and will surely attract a few new fans.-Susan H. Woodcock, King's Park Library, Burke, VA Copyright 1994 Cahners Business Information.

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