The Language of Bees: A Novel of Suspense Featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes

Written by Laurie R. King
Review by Ilysa Magnus

I, admittedly, have been a fan of Laurie R. King’s since I picked up The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, the first installment in the Russell-Holmes series, years ago. I’ve also reviewed a number of the entries for this publication. This one stands out and is perhaps the most compelling and complex of them.

Holmes fans know that he was a beekeeper. He understood the “language of bees” — how they operate within a hive, how their communal society works, how they communicate wordlessly and yet extraordinarily effectively. So, when Mary and Sherlock return to Sussex after a long absence, it is mystifying to them why an entire hive has inexplicably disappeared. The only reason for this behavior is the community was driven by some sort of madness to take flight.

Add to that mix is the disturbing re-appearance of Holmes’s son by Irene Adler, surrealist painter, Damian Adler. His wife and child have gone missing. Can Damian’s behavior, often as bizarre as his paintings, be explained away or is he involved in the disappearances?

The investigative team of Holmes and Russell follow an increasingly sinister path of gruesome murders and strange cults. Russell finds herself in the underbelly of London, cultivating acquaintanceships with bohemian artists and cultist fanatics – all the while recognizing that Holmes is dealing with an investigation much too close to home emotionally.

This is a very satisfying and enjoyable mystery, dense and yet an easy read. I highly recommend it whether you’ve read the earlier installments or not.