Monday, March 12, 2012

{review} the language of bees

Laurie R. King The Language of Bees (2009)

 

The knife hilt grew warm in my hand, then damp. I moved it briefly to my right hand to wipe my palm, then took it back, my fingers kneading it nervously.
It is such an easy thing, to become prey. Especially for a woman, for whom biology and nurture conspire to encourage a sense of victimhood. When terror sweeps through the veins, we become rabbits, cowering in a corner with our eyes closed, hoping for invisibility. And a large man with a gun is a truly terrifying thing. I regretted coming, berated myself for not bringing someone with me; stood helpless, waiting for my death to come up the stairs. Bad judgment yet again, to face a gun with nothing but a sweaty-handled throwing knife.

It's ages since I've read a book in the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series. Every now and then I am overcome by the pressing desire to re-read the brilliant first book in the series (The Beekeeper's Apprentice), and late last year I read the short story Beekeeping for Beginners in which Laurie R. King presents a part of The Beekeeper's Apprentice from Holmes' perspective (very interesting indeed: {REVIEW}).

 

The Language of Bees is a decent addition (the ninth) to the series. There's a nice big fat shock to get the game afoot. The puzzle - involving a sort of Aleister Crowley figure and sacrificial murder - and the symbolic trappings (the bees) weave together nicely. I always feel that King manages to make her reader feel that they have never wholly penetrated all of the symbolic mystique. I rather like authors who can pull that off without making me feel either cheated or really dumb. The Language of Bees is primarily Mary's story, with Holmes popping in and out with necessary facts here and there. A good, solid read, though I can't say it is my favourite in the series. 

It ends with the sort of ending that has already made me buy the next one - The God of the Hive - although I have one little anxiety about this... A small child appears in The Language of Bees in a minor role but with the potential for this to develop in the future. I just don't like books with annoyingly precocious kids in them - especially books where almost everyone else in there already has quite alarming amounts of precocity! - so I hope things don't develop in that direction.

   

BTW, I loved this little wink to 1920s' crime-novel lovers:
If I could not prise what I needed out of them, I should have to pass the task to a certain friend, whose title would have the staff scraping the floor in their eagerness to serve. I wanted to avoid bringing him in, if I could manage on my own -- the fewer who knew... the better, and this particular amateur sleuth would put the whole picture together in a flash.
Rating: 3/5.

If you liked this: you have to start at the beginning with The Beekeeper's Apprentice. It is amazing.

2 comments:

  1. I had exactly the same fear you did about the presence of the child, and I really liked the way she worked the child into God of the Hive. These two together are among my favorites in the series. And I especially loved that reference to her titled friend!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Teresa! I was trying to remember if there'd been any Harriet Vane references in the bits of the books when Mary R is at Oxford, but this involves so much fictional chronologizing that I can't do it!

    ReplyDelete

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