The Beekeeper's Apprentice Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Beekeeper's Apprentice

Young Mary Russell befriends Sherlock Holmes. They grow very close, especially because Russell lives with her tyrannical aunt (her parents died when she was little.) There are a few small mysteries in the course of the book, but the big question is: who's leaving all these clues that Holmes and Russell are in danger? It's possible, I guess, to figure it out before you're told, but I think it's VERY difficult. Anyway, the point of the story is not just the mystery but the development of the Russell-Holmes relationship, which takes as much time as anything else in the book.
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The review of this Book prepared by Regine

Born with the 20th century, Mary Russell has been sent to live with her aunt on a farm in Sussex after the death of her parents in an auto accident in Northern California. She is 15, and World War I is commencing on the continent. Bookish, extremely intelligent, and proto-feminist, Mary encounters the retired private detective Sherlock Holmes on the downs, where he keeps bees and occasionally consults for the British government. He challenges and teaches her for the next several years, and by the time she has entered Oxford she is ready to accompany Holmes on a case when an American senator's little girl is kidnapped in Wales. An even bigger case looms when someone plants bombs at Holmes's country home, Mary's rooms at Oxford, and even Doctor Watson's domicile. The adventure even entails a trip to Palestine and Jerusalem. Laurie King's first (1994) in a series about the unusual partnership of a feisty young woman and a critical elderly legend is remarkably successful. She evokes place, character, and the growing relationship beautifully, and though Holmes is of course the draw (and as well done as in any of the pastiches by Nicholas Meyer, Michael Dibdin, or John Gardner's Moriarty books), her greatest achievement is the narrator and heroine Mary.
The review of this Book prepared by David Loftus

Sherlock Holmes, the world's most famous fictional detective, has been rehashed, reused, and recycled so often (and often, so badly) that any further attempts at writing about this character seem doomed to instant failure. The introduction of the gratuitous teenage, orphaned American female (brilliant, to boot) would seem to destroy any chance "The Beekeeper's Apprentice" has for success, but somehow, Laurie King pulls it off, introducing us to a Holmes who is not the Holmes of Watson's day, but rather a new, intriguing character of fifty-odd whose life, outlook, and personality have changed over the years since Baker Street. Not a book to miss.
The review of this Book prepared by Guildenstern

Orphaned Mary Russell meets the aging detective Sherlock Holmes and becomes his student. Eventually, she becomes his partner, and they must work together to solve a mystery that could mean the difference between life and death for them both.
The review of this Book prepared by Mel

A sherlock Holmes mystery with a different point of view. the story is told from the point of view of Mary Russell, a young eccentric girl whose intellect is his equal though her experience is not. Lots of good banter between the two.
The review of this Book prepared by Mary P

Chapter Analysis of The Beekeeper's Apprentice

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book descript. of violence and chases 20%Planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 40%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 30%How society works & physical descript. (people, objects, places) 10% Tone of story    -   suspenseful (sophisticated fear) How difficult to spot villain?    -   Difficult, but some clues given Time/era of story:    -   1900-1920's What % of story relates directly to the mystery, not the subplot?    -   60% Misc. Murder Plotlets    -   Big focus on forensic evidence    -   Killer purposely leaves clues Kind of investigator    -   british mystery (I say!) Kid or adult book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Crime Thriller    -   Yes Murder Mystery (killer unknown)    -   Yes

Main Character

Gender    -   Female Profession/status:    -   student Age:    -   a teen Ethnicity/Race    -   White/American


Europe    -   Yes European country:    -   England/UK City?    -   Yes Misc setting    -   scientific labs

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   moderately detailed references to deaths Unusual forms of death    -   perforation--bullets    -   exploded into bits Unusual form of death?    -   Yes Amount of dialog    -   mostly dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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Laurie R. King Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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