The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie King

This is the first in the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series that I accidentally discovered from a volume much later in the series (The Murder of Mary Russell) that I read recently.

This story deals with how Mary Russell, a young, very young, orphaned American girl came to live in England with her only living relative, an aunt with whom she does not get along. While on a walk through the English countryside, Mary Russell meets the now retired famous detective, Sherlock Holmes. Their initial encounter takes place in the middle of a field where Holmes is studying the behavior of bees. It’s clear from their first meeting that Mary, aged only 15, has a similar intellect and capacity for deduction as the 54-year-old Holmes. This age difference bothered me a bit because he – on their very first meeting – invited her to his home and offered her wine to drink. But he was a perfect gentleman, and housekeeper Mrs. Hudson was on hand as chaperone.  But Holmes’s interest in Russell is purely intellectual as he begins to mentor her on his profession while she prepares for admission to Oxford University.

The story is engrossing and as the professional relationship between Sherlock Holmes and Russell develops, it culminates with them working on a case together- one in which both their lives are in grave danger. This is an engrossing book and an interesting take on the Sherlock Holmes legend from a relatively modern (post World War One) time period, as well as a young woman’s perspective.