Review:Mary Russell-Holmes:The Language of Bees-Laurie R. King


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Dear Mom,

The readers have abandoned me! Someone started a rumor that I was looking to beat the world record for stuffing phone-booths(with living people). The youngest of my readers (Timmy and Felix) had no idea what a phone-booth was. That I had other readers left them dumbfounded. So I showed them some pictures(of phone-booths). Somehow this lead to their holing up in the wine cellar to study 2600: The Hacker Quarterly‘s entire run of “pay phone” photos. I’ve also noticed some of my notebooks have gone missing. I hope to hear from you soon!

Michael

ps It is the next morning. The boys are still in the wine cellar. I can hear them reading the photo captions aloud. Then the sound of typing. What the unexplainable! I swear I just heard an adult voice down there.  ;;;;Also, someone put a very well made  paper replica of Napoleon’s hat on Ziva!  I’ve got to figure this out! TTYL!



Sherlock Holmes returns in Laurie R. King‘s ninth Mary Russel book The Language of Bees(Detective Fiction 448 pp. Bantam 2009). Sherlock Holmes had as many incarnations as had Doctor Who of science fiction fame. Try more. Thousands of them to estimate conservatively. Among my recent favorites are Caleb Carr’s The Italian Secretary, Michael Chabon’s The Final Solution, and King’s series which began with The Bee Keeper’s Apprentice. After retiring to the Sussex downs Sherlock Holmes settles into his retirement by taking on the task of bee-keeper. It is in this role, the retired bee tending eccentric, that Holmes meets Mary Russell his future bride and detective’s apprentice. The daughter of a Californian millionaire and Jewish-English mother, Mary is sent to live with a relative in Sussex when her parents are killed in a car accident. She attends Oxford studying Theology and Chemistry. I’m tempted to say “Because when they met, It was moider”!
The book at hand has Damien Adler(Sherlock’s son with “That Woman” Irene Adler, the foil of A Scandal in Bohemia)surprising Holmes and Russell as they have just arrived home from a nine month adventure abroad. It seems that Damien’s wife and child have gone missing.  
Told from Mary’s perspective(as are most of the Mary Russell books), the up and coming Avant-Garde Painter and the Ageing Detective set off leaving Mary to puzzle over a hive that has been abandoned. When Holmes returns alone the mystery only deepens the growing suspicions that Damien may somehow be involved.
What is this strange cult the Adlers may be involved with and what do they have to do with a series of murders at England’s ancient landmarks? Will Holmes and Russell have acquired a grand-daughter only to lose her?


I have read the first four books in this series. I can’t find anything to be disappointed with. I really enjoy King’s description of England and her portrayal of the time period(post Great War). The character of Mary Russell stands on her own. The relationship she has with the master detective is believable and suitable. An independent woman with her own course of study and expertise Mary functions as an integral part of a machine. A machine that only forms when needed. Much like (take your pick of which form)Voltron. There isn’t much along the lines of cuddling or romance between the two so don’t start blathering about mush factor. There is no mush factor. These are intellectual equals and I love it as such. Laurie R. King kept me hooked with her skillful and attentive presentation of a mystery, it’s characters and the environs. Unless any discussion of the occult is offensive to you(here it drives the criminal behavior)I see no reason a mystery/Holmes fan would not enjoy this book.


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