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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Language of Bees

The Language of Bees
by Laurie R. King
432 pages
the 9th Mary Russell & Sherlock Holmes book


*** About the Book ***

This 9th book in the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series finds our investigative duo returning home from a lengthy trip abroad (most of which is covered in the previous 3 books). Upon arrival they are greeted with two mysteries: one of Holmes's beehives has gone mad and Holmes's long-lost son has appeared on their doorstep. As the story progresses, Russell finds herself alone in her efforts to discover the solution to both mysteries.


*** Why I Read It ***

I picked up the first book in this series somewhat by accident, at the prompting of a local indie bookseller. I loved the series so much that I read the next 7 books in one month. I was thrilled when I won a copy of the latest book (this one) just after it was released; I had planned to buy it anyway, so it was a win-win for me! I've had it sitting on my shelf since late Spring, and figured that now was the time to get it read.


*** My Thoughts ***

When I heard this book was going to include Holmes's son, I immediately had to figure out who that son was. According to King, the son is the product of Holmes's relationship with Irene Adler, a character introduced in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's short story A Scandal in Bohemia. Back in August I picked up an audio version of several Holmes stories which included Scandal; unfortunately I found that it was a radio dramatization and not technically an audio book so I returned it to the library. I did, however, listen to Scandal first so I would be familiar with the story. I found that it helped to have that background; it wasn't absolutely necessary, but it was good for me.

Although I did enjoy this book it was not one of my favorites in the series. I felt like it meandered at the beginning and got off to a slow start. It did pick up about halfway through though, and the pace was excellent after that. As always, King continues to develop the characters of Russell and Holmes in unexpected ways, and I definitely enjoyed the new aspects of their personalities in this book.

I do have one complaint that I hope someone can help me out with. If you've read the book, please let me know how you see the bee mystery relating to the other main mystery. For the life of me, I don't see how they relate nor why the bee mystery is so important. The only connection I can make is the theme of "madness", but I'm not sure that's what I'm supposed to be seeing here. If you have any thoughts on this, please let me know!


*** Your Thoughts ***

In addition to the question I've asked you in the paragraph above, I also want to know who out there is a Mary Russell fan. Have you read any of the series? What did you think of it?

I've not been able to find any reviews of this book by bloggers I know ... if I missed yours please let me know and I'll add it here.

And finally, here's a book trailer for you to check out. Actually, it is the author reading excerpts of the book along with video from the places she's describing. It's rather long, but if you are interested in this book then you'll enjoy it.

The Language of Bees from Laurie R. King on Vimeo.

17 comments:

Aarti said...

I've heard a lot about this series, but never read it. I don't know how I feel about Holmes having a kid! I always think of him as pretty asexual.

Heather J. said...

Aarti - I agree, but it really does make complete sense at this point, based on what has gone on before (and besides, this is an adult son, so Holmes isn't really a "daddy" figure - LOL).

bermudaonion said...

I haven't read any of her work, but downloaded one to my Kindle after reading several great reviews. I'll get to it one day!

Beth F said...

I have been wanting to read this series for a long time.

Heather J. said...

bermudaonion - Be sure to start with the first book when you decide to try this series - it's one you definitely have to read in order!

Beth F - I hope you get to it in 2010 - it's worth it. :)

Darla D said...

I adore this series. I do the happy dance when a new Mary Russell book comes out!

Heather J. said...

Darla D - I only found this series relatively recently, so this was the first book that I actually had to wait for. Now I'm anxiously awaiting the NEXT one. :)

Kailana said...

I have heard good things about this series, but haven't given it a try yet. I am starting to think I should, though!

Justin Narin said...

Thanks for the review.

Freedom Debt Reviews

Dreamybee said...

I read the first book in this series several years ago, but I don't remember particularly liking it or disliking it.

I read about Laurie King partnering up with Heifer International when this book came out, and I thought of you when I read it. I thought you'd like to know (if you didn't already) that one of your favorite authors is also doing good deeds? Isn't it nice to find a reason to like somebody more? :)

Here's a link to her fundraising information-it sounds like she has something similar planned for her next book.
http://www.laurierking.com/etcetera/lrk-on-holmes/heifer-international-fundraiser

longbrakeliving said...

I read this just after it came out, so my impressions are a tad hazy, but I do know I really liked this one -- better than some of the others in the series. I can't remember if I thought it was slow to start or not.

I'm also not sure about the bee mystery tie-in. Thinking back on it now, I think it partly may have served tos how how wrapped up in Damion's life and myster Holmes was, ignoring his beloved bees and showing how this new role isolated Mary. But, like I said, its been a while, so my thought could be really off base!

Heather J. said...

Kailana - Oh yes, you DEFINITELY should.

Justin - You're welcome.

Dreamybee - Yes, I was following along with the campaign on her blog. And she's supposed to be announcing something regarding the next book (which is due out in 4 months) shortly - I'm excited to see what it will be!

buy ebooks said...

The story seems interesting like a family facing different life conditions but what is meant by "Language of Bees"?

ella144 said...

This is one of my favorite series and I actually just re-read this over the weekend to refresh my memory for the God of the Hive which releases in a few months.

I was puzzled by the connection of the two mysteries the first time I read it, so much so that I eventually stopped trying to solve it. This second read through I started thinking about the connection. I have a couple of theories.

SPOILERS AHEAD

1) The death of the hive is an apocalyptic event mirroring or foretelling Brothers attempts to trigger Ragnarok. Also there are several references that the bees behavior goes against their nature, which is another foretelling/mirroring of Brothers' actions.

2) Since Beekeeper's Apprentice Russell has been linked with the queen bee. Russell theorizes that the hive died of loneliness, a reoccurring theme in the book. Russell is left alone many times throughout the book, but instead of succumbing as the queen did, she sets out on her own investigation.

These are only half-formed ideas, and would love to hear others' opinions.

Heather J. said...

ella144 - Thanks so much for sharing your theories! I'm glad I wasn't the only one having difficultly with the connections here. Both of your theories make a lot of sense - I'll have to give them some more thought.

leecat said...

Hi Heather ... I thought I'd comment in return (to your comment on my blog [http://readingwithmyears.blogspot.com/] at your posting on this book! I've been a long-time Mary Russell fan, but I went back to eye-reading on the "conclusion" to this two-part installment -- The God of the Hive. Which was a great conclusion, by the way! Also, I loved your post on meeting Laurie King at the bookstore reading. She's so smart!

Heather J. said...

leecat - Thanks for coming by! I haven't had a chance to get to The God of the Hive yet but hopefully will soon - glad to know it brings this story to a satisfying conclusion. :)

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