Fiction: “The Beekeeper’s Apprentice” by Laurie R. King

beekeeper's jpgOkay, seriously, I have spent … well, not the better part of two days, but it feels like a lot of time, trying to coalesce my thoughts on the best book I read last year, and so far, the best book I’ve read this year (yes, even better than PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES*).

The plot is as follows: Mary Russell, a precocious genius, is reading Virgil and walking the Sussex Downs at the same time one sunny April morning in 1915, and happens to nearly trip over a man. In the ensuing trade of barbs between the two, Russell comes to realize that the man she has twice insulted to his face is none other than the famous Sherlock Holmes, now retired to Sussex, and an amateur beekeeper. So begins an amazing friendship of equals, even though Holmes is nearly fifty years older than Russell (I can’t remember offhand, and I’m not going to look it up, because I don’t want to be distracted again).

Why do I love it? I’m not entirely sure I can put it into words. The friendship between Holmes and Russell is again, that of equals. In essence, Holmes improves Russell’s already-formed powers of detection in her ‘apprenticeship’, and after working a couple of cases together, Russell is given her ‘vive voce exam’ and solves a case on her own. Then comes the kidnapping of Jessica Simpson, the U.S. Senator’s daughter (not to be confused with this century’s Jessica Simpson – trust me, there is no relation), where Russell takes huge risks and truly becomes Holmes’s partner.

The language is rich, the plot thick and twisty, and … guh. I can’t talk about it more than I already have. Here: read some additional reviews, because I can’t do the book justice.

And then, go read it. Seriously, guys.

*I forgot to mention! Quirk Books has announced its sequal to PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES:

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.

I’m … not as intrigued by S&S&SM as I feel I should be; it seems weak and lackluster. But I’ll most definitely give it a shot.

Grade for The Beekeeper’s Apprentice: 6 stars

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