I met mystery author Laurie R. King during the production of Mysterious California, my parents’ 2008 documentary.
Now, five years later, I have discovered Ms. King’s wonderful Mary Russell series.
The Beekeeper’s Apprentice begins the series with 15-year-old Mary Russell meeting the retired Sherlock Holmes in 1915. The two immediately become a team. Mary Russell is inquisitive, clever, and recently orphaned; Holmes is in desperate need of a mind equal to his in logic and deduction. Soon, they are travelling across England, first to solve the mysterious illness of a wealthy neighbor, then on the trail of a kidnapper, and finally to solve their most difficult case of all, one that has reemerged from Holmes’s past to threaten their very lives. Mary Russell is a most enjoyable character, taking the reader on a journey of suspense, a journey that any “classic” Holmes fan may question until reading the first page of The Beekeeper’s Apprentice. Laurie R. King artfully weaves together mystery and a unique friendship into a satisfying and intelligent novel that I will re-read over and over again, having now devoured every book in the series.
Here’s what Laurie R. King says about Mary Russell:
Mary Russell walked into my life with the first line of The Beekeeper’s Apprentice and took over. At the time, I had little knowledge of the Great War, England in the Twenties, or Sherlock Holmes, but that didn’t seem to matter to her, she just waited (graciously stifling her impatience) for me to catch up. Eleven books later, I have learned a great deal about Russell, Holmes, and their world. I have learned even more about myself and my world, since a central raison d’etre of reading history, even fictional history, is that it is a mirror, reflecting unexpected sides of our times and ourselves. Politics, women’s rights, religious expression, governmental oppression–all these and more wander through the Russell stories, so that although they are primarily, as Graham Greene called his books, “entertainments,” they also have the real-life grit and dimension that a crime novel demands. But mostly, I enjoy the Russells because they’re fun, for the writer and (I am led to believe) for the reader. I hope you agree.
You can watch a preview of “Mysterious California,” in which Laurie appears first, by clicking on this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7VEXEQDFkjg
Here’s a complete list of the Mary Russell novels (in chronological order):
The Beekeeper’s Apprentice
A Monstrous Regiment of Women
A Letter of Mary
The Language of Bees
The God of the Hive
Garment of Shadows