The Language of Bees

The Language of BeesBuy the Book:
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Series: Russell & Holmes #9
Published by: Bantam Books
Release Date: 2010
Pages: 449


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 the past. Mary had met Damian Adler only once before, when the surrealist painter had been charged with—and exonerated from—murder. Now the troubled young man is enlisting the Holmeses’ help again, this time in a desperate search for his missing wife and child.

Mary 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 the dark secrets of a young woman’s past on the streets of Shanghai, Mary 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.


“Intricate clockworks, wheels within wheels, a kaleidoscope of patterns that periodically locks into place to reveal a clear but ominous vision—so are the absorbing series of stories King has written about the young theology scholar and American feminist Mary Russell, who is married to the great detective Sherlock Holmes. …[Here] we are treated to a great deal about ancient sites in England; a major supporting role from Holmes’ brother, Mycroft; information on an occult set of beliefs possibly related to Aleister Crowley; a terrifying set piece on the horrors of early air travel; and discourse on the queasy pleasures of surrealist art—all in Mary Russell’s wry, brilliant, and occasionally utterly deluded voice.”



See where Mary and Holmes’s newest adventures take them by clicking on the blue markers on this map.

Mary Russell first encounters the Reverend Thomas Brothers through his book, TestimonyExcerpts are here.

Read Laurie’s thoughts on writing The Language of Bees on her blog, Mutterings (Part 1 and Part 2.)

Surrealist art, and also here.

The artist Andre Breton.

The history of Shanghai

Cafe Royal

Aleister Crowley

The Norse Gods

Information on the Long Man of Wilmington in Sussex, and also here.

The Cerne Abbas Giant in Cerne Abbas, Dorset

Long Meg and her Daughters in Penrith, Cumbria. Also here.

High Bridestones in the Yorkshire moors.

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


Just as it seemed Holmes was about to fling his coat to the side and set off for home on foot, whistles blew, doors clattered, and the train roused itself from torpor. We boarded, flinging our compartment’s windows as far open as they would go. Patrick cast a wary glance at Holmes and claimed an acquaintance in the third class carriage. We removed as many of our outer garments as propriety would allow, and I tore away the first page of the newspaper to construct a fan, cooling myself with the agony column. Holmes slumped into the seat and reached for his cigarette case yet again.

I recognised the symptoms, although I was puzzled as to the cause. Granted, an uneventful week in New York followed by long days at sea—none of our fellow passengers having been thoughtful enough to bleed to death in the captain’s cabin, drop down dead of a mysterious poison, or vanish over the rails—might cause a man like Holmes to chafe at inactivity, nonetheless, one might imagine that a sea voyage wouldn’t be altogether a burden after seven hard-pressed months abroad. And in any case, we were now headed for home, where his bees, his newspapers, and the home he had created twenty years before awaited him. One might expect a degree of satisfaction, even anticipation; instead, the man was all gloom and cigarettes.

Read the full excerpt