Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tuesday's Review, The Beekeeper's Apprentice

I hesitate with today's posted review. Last week I told you that I'd review a book with an unsatisfactory ending. I just can't do it. What I'm doing instead is to review the first in Laurie R. King's Mary Russell series, a very satisfying read. I'll be giving away the book I didn't like, another of hers in a different series. I suspect that quite a few of you out there will like the book. It's just not for me.

The Beekeeper's Apprentice didn't initially lure me. I'm not a huge Holmes fan, though I've read most of Doyle's Holmes stories, and a couple of Holmes knock offs. Holmes is very dry, I think. So going into a book where Holmes is old and retired, meeting a young girl with a sharp mind who becomes his apprentice - well. Really? Should we even go there?

But the book begins with an intriguing preface, a letter from the supposed author about finding a trunk full of Victorian things, including the manuscript, or the book I was about to read. I wouldn't call myself hooked at that point, but the style certainly drew me in. The wit.

So I wandered into The Beekeeper's Apprentice with an open mind, reminding myself of my three chapters or fifty pages rule: if I'm not thoroughly involved within three chapters or fifty pages (whichever comes first), I'm done. Life's too short to read books I won't like.

Three chapters in I was definitely hooked.

Ms. King takes great care in staying with the Holmes story, to the point where she departs, but with reasonable explanation. And Holmes is real. Mary Russell is a wonderful girl, snarky and brilliant, an excellent young match for an aging detective. The trouble the two of them get into cracks me up. The bond that forms is sweet.

I love seeing characters from the original stories, hearing back story on their lives, seeing them as so much more human than I ever knew, especially Watson. Russell is honest in her preconceptions of Watson from the stories, being prepared to view him as something less than intelligent, a buffoon. But it's refreshing to see her take to him.

I won't ruin any of the story for you, but I will tell you that if you're a Holmes fan, or just love detective stories in general, The Beekeeper's Apprentice is worth your time. I was so glad to have read it myself.

As to the give away, I've recently read another of Laurie R. King's books, one written as part of a series. The inspector in this series is modern, the story taking place in San Fransisco. I went into the story prepared to love it. The protagonist is involved in a murder involving a Holmes impersonator, which is what drew me in, I guess, after the other book.

The story in The Art of Deception is well done as far as the mystery element. It was easy enough to see some of it coming together, but the who and why were concealed enough to surprise me. Pleasantly? Not so much.

The plot seemed to be politically correct, or motivated by a cause, so to speak. I don't mind books which are cause driven, but I truly don't like books which bill themselves as being one thing (a murder mystery) turning into an activist's novel. I felt that's what this was. Please don't preach to me when I'm trying to escape in a book. Her ending really cinched that feeling of betrayal, of having started in one genre and ended in another.

Yes, the preaching was left leaning. I don't lean left. Not that that's too relevant. Right leaning books which pretend to be fiction but preach make me angry, too. One of the many reasons I won't read the Left Behind series, along with many other books.

Gah. Didn't mean to turn this into a rant. Sorry.

So if you're interested in my copy of The Art of Deception, leave a comment letting me know and I'll pick one of you. It's a library bound book.

Until I write again ...



Daryl said...

I have read one of her books, but I cant remember the title.

Trisha said...

Of course you know I am always into a book give-away!

By the way - are there any books I can send YOU?

Pearl said...

The Beekeepers Apprentice sounds pretty good. I will look for it. Currently reading A Confederacy of Dunces. Just started yesterday and so far, I'm loving his choice of words and his characters.

Speaking of characters, Liza Bean Bitey (of the Minneapolis Biteys) received your gift to her in the mail yesterday. :-) Miz Bitey says she LOVES clowns and promises to send you a picture just as soon as she can find the lousy connecting stuff between the camera and the laptop.

Poor Liza. She's as bad as I am with that stuff.