2015 TBR Challenge Review: The Beekeeper’s Apprentice

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, Laurie King (Mary Russell & Sherlock Holmes #1)

Published April 1st 2010 by Minotaur Books

ebook, 368 pages

Source: Chicago Public Library


1914, a young woman named Mary Russell meets a retired beekeeper on the Sussex Downs. His name is Sherlock Holmes. And although he may have all the Victorian “flaws” listed above, the Great Detective is no fool, and can spot a fellow intellect even in a fifteen-year-old woman.

So, at first informally, then consciously, he takes Mary Russell as his apprentice. They work on a few small local cases, then on a larger and more urgent investigation, which ends successfully. All the time, Mary is developing as a detective in her own right, with the benefit of the knowledge and experience of her mentor and, increasingly, friend.

And then the sky opens on them, and they find themselves the targets of a slippery, murderous, and apparently all-knowing adversary. Together they devise a plan to trap their enemy–a plan that may save their lives but may also kill off their relationship.  This is not a “Sherlock Holmes” story. It is the story of a modern young woman who comes to know and work with Holmes, the story of young woman coming to terms with herself and with this older man who embodies the age that is past.

So I’m probably not making it through my 2015 TBR Challenge books but I am still trying! I am so glad I got The Beekeeper’s Apprentice off my to read list – however, it’s now been replaced by the sequel, A Monstrous Regiment of Women.  Also, I now really have to read Sherlock Holmes himself I think.  

Young Mary Russell nearly falls over Sherlock Holmes while out walking one day.  A friendship is struck between the odd pair and as she grows up and studies Mary realizes that Holmes is more than her teacher, and that she is a fit partner for the semi-retired detective.  Their adventures are told by Mary herself reflecting back in time.  

I loved reading about a young woman like Mary.  She’s brilliant and determined and she’s not cowed by Holmes just because of who he is.  Mary is not perfect and I really enjoyed how she and Holmes balance each other out.  I particularly enjoyed picturing them as a gypsy father and daughter trying to get themselves arrested to start to solve a kidnapping.  I appreciated that King gives the reader more than just one mystery in this first book and I liked seeing Mary take bigger steps as a detective in each case.  I look forward to seeing how the series unfolds.

4 stars!

3 weeks, 4 challenge books to go.  I will get as far as I can before I admit defeat!  Sadly Adam at the Roofbeam Reader has decided he will not be hosting a 2016 TBR Challenge due to commitments outside of book life.  Holly and I liked the challenge so much that, along with Eva at The Paperback Princess, we’re going to continue to push ourselves to clear our TBR shelves.  Let’s be honest, we’re not as organized as Adam was so we won’t be as fancy.  But if you are looking for a challenge please join us and make a 2016 TBR list!


  1. Yay! 2016 TBR Pile Challenge!
    Let’s be real – getting just ONE book off the list feels so good. Even when it’s replaced by another book 30 seconds later. This one sounds really good! I can think of a whole bunch of people who would enjoy this book, including me.

  2. Oh, I’ve been eyeing this book, and now I’ll be looking at it even more closely. Good for you, still working on your TBR Pile challenge still. I have realized that I do much better if I don’t list books ahead of time. But since I am planning to read mainly my own books next year, I might make a list anyway.
    (P.S.: I’m curious to hear how you like Sherlock Holmes….)

  3. Shamefully, I haven’t read any Sherlock Holmes yet, either. So you’re not alone.
    I’ve never heard of this series, but it does sound good!
    I’m also planning to read many of my own books next year, but like TJ, I don’t tend to follow lists very well. But, you guys might inspire me to make one anyway – making them is half the fun. 🙂

  4. 3 weeks, 4 books — I say that you can totally do it!! And even if not, at least you’re reading wonderful things. 🙂 A Monstrous Regiment of Women has been on my TBR list for the longest-ever time, and maybe 2016 can be the year I finally get to it. (Luckily, whenever I come close to forgetting it, bloggers remind me.)

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