In these uncertain times, I’ve been trying to focus myself on certain tasks, so I can keep my attention centered and not let it wander to the unknown, which is so vast right now. One of the tasks I’ve put myself to is finishing the Mary Russell series by Laurie R. King.
The Beekeeper’s Apprentice
I’d read the first in the series, The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, years ago and enjoyed it thoroughly. The explosive ending was enough to keep me going. But with all series, I get cold feet at the thought of facing an entire series. So I’m finally getting around to this now.
Mary Russell encounters her neighbor in the Sussex fields when she is just a teenager, and a friendship is immediately formed between this already world-weary girl and her wise neighbor. The thing is, the neighbor is Sherlock Holmes, in retirement now from his years of detecting. It just so happens he keeps bees.
You know I like character driven novels, and I think that’s why I was so drawn to this series. I love Mary Russell. She irritates me. Sometimes she perplexes me. And other times, I simply admire her.
Mary Russell is a woman coming into her own in the 1920s, which is absolutely my favorite decade for a woman to be coming of age. So much is changing in the 1920s for women’s rights and the world at large, that it’s prime real estate for this series.
While Mary has intriguing traits, her situation is even more fraught with possible stories. She is orphaned when her parents and brother die in a car accident in San Francisco and she must go live with her aunt in Sussex until she receives her inheritance at 21. Her inheritance will make her super rich, and I love how analytical she is about it. She’s not a rich debutante flapper. She’s a scholar who happens into some money. Brilliant!
The Mary Russell Series
I saw in one of my Facebook book clubs that the audio versions of these books is great, so I’ve been getting them from the library. I can confirm the audio versions are tremendous. I’m currently on book 3 in the Mary Russell series, A Letter of Mary, and the narrator is perfect.
Here is what I’m coming to learn about this series: it did what Dan Brown did only ten years earlier.
I was sucked into the glitzy daring of Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon books, but I disliked that they read at a fourth grade reading level. I wanted characters of greater depth and stories with more complex development.
Enter the Mary Russell series.
Religion and Its Complexities
King does a fantastic job of weaving religion, legend, and lore into the cases Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes face in the 1920s. The stories are peppered with Bible stories and archaeological treasures.
If you like Dan Brown, Sherlock Holmes, or Indiana Jones, you are going to love this series.
Mary Russell identifies as non-Christian, which I find refreshing. The Mary Russell series does not at all intend to sway your religious beliefs, nor is Mary a preachy character. She’s a scholar, and she approaches each of her cases with approachable objectivity.
If you’re looking for a little added spice to your reading, don’t neglect this long running series. Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes are on the case.