Wednesday, March 4, 2009

You Spoke, and I Listened


A few weeks ago I showed a photograph of some new books I acquired. One of those books was The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King and so many people stopped by to comment how much they loved that book! All the comments came at just the right time and I decided that TBA would be my next read.

All I can say is, you were all right! TBA is a terrific read and is just what I like in a mystery. That is, not a traditional who-done-it or fast-paced thriller, but a more character based story with lots of atmosphere.

For the uninitiated, TBA is the story of teenager, Mary Russell, who is preternaturally clever and bright. She literally stumbles over the mysterious Sherlock Holmes on one of her walks around the countryside. Holmes quickly discovers Russell is his intellectual match and thus begins a great friendship, partnership, and yes, apprenticeship. I loved Mary's wit and forward-thinking mind, I loved the very British setting in the early 20th century, I loved that Holmes and Russel solved several cases in the course of the novel, in short, I thought it was splendid. I do have one confession. That is, I've never read any Sherlock Holmes stories! So I can say with great assurance that you do not have to be well versed in the Sherlock Holmes canon to enjoy this book. Though I do suspect that there is a lot in this book that ties into Arthur Conan Doyle's writings.

Here is the rub. There are apparently 8 books in this Mary Russell series - but I've come to understand that this is the very best, the rest don't hold up as well. Nuts! I was hoping for a long relationship with Mary Russell. In any case I've already got a couple more in the series on the way so I'll be trying those out - I'm trying not to set my hopes too high. By the way - Bookcloseouts.com
has a few books in the series including The Beekeeper's Apprentice with the above cover for a great price- $4.99 - in the event you haven't read this book.

I thank you all for your advice, and particularly for bringing TBA to my awareness in the first place. I'd love your opinions on the rest of this series, if you have any.

21 comments:

bermudaonion said...

That does sound wonderful. I love a good mystery.

J.Danger said...

I did not know that there were so many of them! Cant wait to hear of the rest, even if they are doubtful. You never know!

avisannschild said...

Yay, I'm glad you enjoyed this book so much! I haven't heard that this one is the best before though! I've read the second, which I enjoyed as well, but haven't gotten around to the others. (I own all of them except the eighth and the ninth is coming out soon or had just come out.) Lots of bloggers seem to be reading these books these days, so maybe I should give them a try again! (I didn't stop reading them because I didn't enjoy them; it just took me a while to acquire the others so I could read them in the right order.)

Carrie said...

In way of encouragement, I have to say that I completely disagree that the other novels in the series don't hold up. I've read the first five, and book five (O Jerusalem) is the only one I didn't rate 5 stars - and it still got 3. I'm very much looking forward to books 6, 7, and 8.

Teresa said...

I love the whole series, and the first is far from my favorite. The only one that didn't, in my mind, meet or exceed the standard set in Beekeeper's Apprentice was The Moor, and I probably would have liked it more if I could remember more about The Hound of the Baskervilles.

adevotedreader said...

I'm glad to hear you enjoyed this. Having read the whole series so far, I haven't been disappointed in the other books, so don't give up on them!

Each mystery is very different and Mary and Holmes do change from book to book, but for me this is more interesting than someone writing the same book again and again. I'm a keen Conan Doyle fan, and this is the only use of his characters I've read and enjoyed.

Kay said...

Tara, so glad you liked BEEKEEPER'S APPRENTICE. It is one of my favorites. Now, I'll make a confession. I sing Laurie King's praises all over, but I've not read any other books in this series. I mean to, just haven't yet. However, I think that if you continue, you'll find the series gets better and better. I have heard that book 2 isn't some people's favorite, but others gain grand acclaim. Nan, over at Letters From a Hill Farm, absolutely loves this series. Check out what she has to say about it on her blog.

Tara said...

Bermudaonion, it is - I bet you would like it.

J.Danger, Yes, you never know. One person's trash is another's treasure, as they say.

Avisannschild, oh good, you hadn't heard that! I've heard things like - 'then second book is no one's favorite' and the like.

Carrie, thank you, that's just what I needed to hear to get me excited about the rest of the series.

Teresa, that is great to hear!! I don't know a thing about THOTB. Hmm.

adevotedreader, I'm so glad to know that - thanks so much for your comment. I know what you mean about reading the same book over and over - no, I don't want that.

Kay, I am hoping to find that I enjoy the other books in the series and I've heard the same about book 2 - funny, that. I'll have to check with Nan to see where she's posted about these.

Nan said...

"but I've come to understand that this is the very best, the rest don't hold up as well."
This is so, so, so wrong in my opinion. I love every one better than the one before. I've finished one and thought, oh that's the best, and then I read the next one and think the very same thing. I really think they are a set, like a set of diaries for example. What someone wrote in 1950 is just part of a whole lifetime of diaries. And the device is the best I've ever, ever come upon. And Tom agrees. He just finished Locked Rooms, and has raved all the way through about Laurie K. being just the best writer. I'm a huge, huge fan. There is really nothing like these books, and I'm not a Sherlock fan at all. I think the author is brilliant.

Melissa said...

I haven't heard of this one before, but based on your review I am going to have to find a copy!

Anna said...

Sounds like a book I'll have to check out once my TBR pile is more under control. I agree that the cover is great.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Tara said...

Nan, I am so, so glad to hear you say that! It is so wonderful to know your positive thoughts on these books! You must be excited for the newest book to come out soon - I noticed the author is having a big to-do on her website before the book's release - you might find that interesting.

Melissa, I hope that you like it!

Anna, I don't think my pile will ever be under control (see latest post)! The other new covers are great too.

melanie said...

Apparently, I'm the only one disappointed in the rest of the series, although I quit at no. 3. I'm hopeful for you :)

Lisa said...

Tara, don't feel bad. I don't think I've read more than one or two Holmes stories. This book sounds like something I would like. I've heard about it but thanks for reminding me. I'm putting it on the wishliest now before I forget again.

Tara said...

Melanie, you're definitely not alone! There are many on amazon reviews who say the same.

Lisa, thank you. I sort of felt silly having not read any and then to read the spin-off. It does seem like a blogger favorite!

Cath said...

I have to agree with those who say that this series gets better and better. I liked TBA an awful lot but the others were just as good, if not better. I'm up to book 4, The Moor, and that's been my favourite so far, possibly because I know Dartmoor and Laurie King got it spot on. It's far from necessary to have read the original Holmes but I have to say that not to read him at all is to miss out on something rather special.

jennysbooks said...

I've been going back and forth for ages trying to decide whether to read these books. I don't want to get attached and then be progressively more and more disappointed with all the books in the series... Decisions, decisions.

Danielle said...

I enjoyed this one as well. Mary Russell is a great character. I hope to keep reading more books in the series and am working on the second one now.

Tara said...

Cath, that is so wonderful to hear!! I think I have lots of good reading ahead of me. I'm certain you are right, and one of these days I should dip into the original.

jennysbooks, from what everyone is saying here - except for Melanie, the series is worth continuing with. In any case, TBA is very very worth reading!

Danielle, I'll be interested in your thoughts on this sequel.

Eva said...

I definitely think the rest of the series lives up to the first one-in fact, I think they get better as they progress (and I just finished an ARC of the most recent one)! A Monstrous Regiment of Women is probably my least favourite, but it's still really good. :)

Tara said...

Eva, that is so great to hear, and lucky you having already read the latest installment! I'm excited to read this series now.