Daily Archives: July 22, 2009

The Language of Bees revisited

language of beesOne of the first reviews I wrote after starting this blog was of The Language of Bees by Laurie R. King.

This was a challenge because it was the latest book in my favorite series. I hadn’t really established my rating system, and I was afraid I was holding it to a higher standard than other books. I had a number of questions and criticisms, but I was trying to decide if they were general issues, or details only a devoted reader would care about.

For those that aren’t familiar with the book, here is the summary from Laurie R. 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.

I bought the book in hardcover, then also bought it from I decided to listen to the audio version this past week, and revisit my review.

I’ll go ahead and change my rating, up to 5 stars. I’ll now put it in the middle of the series, all of which I enjoy.

The primary appeal of this series is the characters, Mary Russell in particular. On my first, very quick, read, I didn’t see the growth in Russell’s character. This time through, I saw her reestablishing herself after events of the previous book. I saw her responding to a major challenge to her relationship with her husband. I saw a self assurance that was good to see again. I saw the challenges that the pursuit of Holmes’ adult son caused for their marriage, and I saw how they overcame them.

But this book was not primarily about their relationship. There was a mystery to be solved, and an adventure to be had. I enjoyed the creepy bad guy and his invented religion.

Knowing what was going to happen didn’t affect my enjoyment the second time through, a sign of a good book.

I did still have some minor quibbles with the book, and (for the first time in the 9 books of the series) I had a problem with Jenny Sterlin’s narration (of Damian Adler). Since I’ve decided perfection isn’t necessary for a 5 star review, I’m going to let them go.

The important thing is that this is book has an intriguing plot and interesting characters, and I will reread it.

If you haven’t read this series, start here or start with The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, but don’t miss out.

I’m generally not a big fan of book trailers, but check out the trailer for The Language of Bees!


Posted by on July 22, 2009 in books, reviews


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