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Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Language of Bees

by Laurie R. King

The latest addition to the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series was very satisfying. I can't believe that I read the first, The Beekeeper's Apprentice, nearly 15 years ago. Where does time go and why is it going faster and faster?

I took this brief synopsis from Laurie King's website:

In a case that will push their relationship to the breaking point, Mary Russell must help reverse the greatest failure of her legendary husband’s storied past—a painful and personal defeat that still has the power to sting…this time fatally.

For Mary Russell and her husband, Sherlock Holmes, returning to the Sussex coast after seven months abroad was especially sweet. There was even a mystery to solve—the unexplained disappearance of an entire colony of bees from one of Holmes’s beloved hives. But the anticipated sweetness of their homecoming is quickly tempered by a galling memory from her husband’s past.

Mary had met Damian Adler only once before, when the promising surrealist painter had been charged with—and exonerated from—murder. Now the talented and troubled young man was enlisting their help again, this time in a desperate search for his missing wife and child. When it comes to communal behavior, Russell has often observed that there are many kinds of madness. And before this case yields its shattering solution, she’ll come into dangerous contact with a fair number of them.

From suicides at Stonehenge to a bizarre religious cult, from the demimonde of the CafĂ© Royal at the heart of Bohemian London to the dark secrets of a young woman’s past on the streets of Shanghai, Russell will find herself on the trail of a killer more dangerous than any she’s ever faced—a killer Sherlock Holmes himself may be protecting for reasons near and dear to his heart.

I felt like the book started out at a nice measured pace, as do all the books in the series. A great deal of the book focuses on Mary with brief contact with Holmes. She is left to solve the mystery of the empty bee colony and then decides she can't dismiss her concerns for Holmes' safety and looks into the mystery of Damian's missing wife & child in her own way. Mycroft is featured more in this book than in the others. I found him to be quite a likable character.

Another blogger mentioned how after the pace of the book increased, she was annoyed by an overly long episode with a plane ride that seemed to disrupt the flow. I can see why she would have felt that way, but I felt like that was intentional. As Mary, and the reader, are racing toward the climax of the mystery before us, that darn plane ride threatens to hinder her life-saving mission and could even cost her own life. (Of course, I didn't question that she would survive.) I could imagine in the movie version we would be chewing our nails at some points of that plane ride.

And the ending - definitely a cliff hanger, begging for the next book to be published TOMORROW! I was satisfied with the ending and even liked it. That's all I can really say about that without giving anything away.

While reading this book I've about talked myself into buying all the books in this series for a reread someday. I don't own any of them at this point because I don't do rereads, but I'm sorely tempted. How can I justify reading 9 books that I've already read when there are so, so many books I haven't read and am dying to? That's my quandary.

Other reviews of The Language of Bees: A Garden Carried in the Pocket, Books & Other Thoughts and A Striped Armchair.

23 comments:

DesLily said...

get used books that way you won't feel so bad ... but they are all really good books!

jenclair said...

I did like Mycroft's increased presence. I still think the plane ride was too long, but maybe because I didn't feel the tension. Can't believe the next book is out so soon! Guess who will be waiting for a copy?

I frequently want to own an entire series that I love, but am too cheap to buy them all, even used!

Beverooni said...

I had completely forgotten about this series until you blogged on it. I need to get caught up! Off to the library I go. Thanks!

Suko said...

It's wonderful to enjoy books so much.

As suggested by DesLily, if you haven't bought all the books in the series yet, you may be able to find used copies in good (even new) condition on Amazon or elsewhere.
I've gotten whole series of books in this manner. The only thing that adds up is the shipping!

Booklogged said...

Deslily, thank-you. I would definitely buy them used or try to mooch them. It seems there are no copies available of any of the books in this series. How can that be?!

Jenclair, next book? already? When does it come out?

Beverooni, isn't it a wonderful series?

Suko, thank-you. I am already a big fan of amazon's used books. Like you say the shipping is more than the books, but even at $3.99 for shipping it makes for an affordable book.

Kristen M. said...

I have the first book in the series sitting in my pile but I haven't gotten to it yet. I really need to!

As for re-reading, I always compare it to rewatching a beloved movie. Sure there are other movies out there and I may love a new one but I want to remind myself why I love the ones I have already seen.

Booklogged said...

Kristen, I'm not much of a re-watcher either. Unless it's one I really loved and it's been awhile since I've seen it. My daughter loves rereads and rewatches. I don't know why I don't. All that said, I did buy 8 of the books in the Mary Russell series and plan to reread them.

Diane said...

I need to read larie King as I've read so many great posts like yours. THANKS

Staci said...

I just read the first book a few weeks ago..loved it!!! I enjoyed your review and totally understand your quandry!!! Why not buy them if you can find them out there at a good price or maybe use a book swap? Good luck!!!

Booklogged said...

Diane, I hope you do get around to fitting Mary Russell into your reading one of these days. I think you'll like the books.

Staci, I actually broke down earlier to day and bought the first 8 books from amazon.com. The total for the books was less than 30 cents. Even with shipping my total bill was under $30. Not bad, I'd say.

DesLily said...

The first two books came out with new covers not long ago.. the others I found used on amazon but I think the last two (before the language of bees) still showed up on the sale table at barnes and noble for something like 6.00 in hardback (new).

Booklogged said...

Deslily, now we'll both be able to read those delicious books again. Pleasant thought.

dolcebellezza said...

I enjoyed The Beekeeper's Apprentice, too, when I bought it on a recommended reading table at Barnes and Noble several years ago. But, I have to say I prefer the authentic Sherlock the best.

Anonymous said...

I love the reference to rereading being akin to watching a much beloved movie. That is exactly how I feel about the Mary Russell series. No matter how many times I read, or listen to the audio books they never disappoint, and I often find new nuances to the characters and the story by multiple visits to these books.

Zibilee said...

I just bought the first book in this series, and I am really excited to find the time to get to it. I am fully expecting to love this series, as I have heard nothing but good things about it. I will have to stop by and let you know what I think when I finally do get to it. Great review, by the way. I am glad this book didn't dissappoint!

Thoughts of Joy said...

Oh my - 15 years ago!?! I didn't think the series was that old. I'm extremely pleased to read that you like it enough to consider buying the current 9 book series. I'm thinking your question was rhetorical, but my thoughts are that if you can afford it - get them. Life is too short, so if having those 9 books on your shelf is going to bring you happiness . . . that's not a high price to pay. :) (There's always the possibility of prompting others for gift-giving occasions or purchasing used.) The Beekeeper's Apprentice has been silently waiting on my TBR Shelf, but is making a little more noise now - thanks to you. :)

Thoughts of Joy said...

I just noticed that you responded to other comments and see that you bought them!!! I'm really happy for you - I know the feeling well. :) Sometimes certain books just hit you the right way and they can bring much pleasure - even just glancing at them. I'm envisioning you opening that Amazon package now - WOO!

(A non-reader just wouldn't get the above, would they?)

Darla D said...

After reading that plane ride scene, I know that whenever I'm inclined to complain on an aiplane from here on out, I'll shut up and be glad I'm not on that ride with Mary!

Glad you enjoyed it, too. :-)

Liquid Thoughts said...

I'm reading A Letter from Mary now and, of course, I love it. It's only the 2nd or 3rd King novel I've read in the Russell series, but I know I'm going to read them all. Not only that, but I'm going to have to collect them. Not just paperbacks, but first editions. Oh boy!

Les said...

I'm not big on re-reading, but every once in a while I do read something a second time and wind up happy with the results. I think knowing the story in advance helps you to read on a deeper level, not worrying too much about how it will all end up but rather on the writing itself.

I've often thought about buying Dennis Lehane's books to read all over again. And Harlan Coben's.

Sheila (bookjourney) said...

The cover looks fantastic and love your review of this book. How funny you mention Dennis Lehane and Harlen Coben, I believe I have every book that either of them have written - adore them both!

Sheila (bookjourney) said...

OK>...LOL You did not mention Lehane and Coben. The comment above me did.... I must be tired. Ha ha... great authors!

buddy2blogger said...

Nice post about the book. I need to check this one out.

I liked 'The House of Silk' by Anthony Horowitz. Check out my review .

Cheers!