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One Must Tell the Bees: Abraham Lincoln and the Final Education of Sherlock Holmes by J. Lawrence Matthews Audiobook Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

The secret history of the infamous detective of Baker Street comes to center stage as his first case centers around the assassination of a US President, the protection of his son, and the hunt for a ruthless assassin in author J. Lawrence Matthew’s audiobook, “One Must Tell the Bees: Abraham Lincoln and the Finale Education of Sherlock Holmes”. 


The Synopsis

“What do you get when you cross Abraham Lincoln with Sherlock Holmes? The alchemy of creative genius. Matthews brings us to the intersection of history and fiction in this beautifully written epic full of unfathomable twists and turns. It’s elementary: this book is sensational.” (Jim Campbell, syndicated radio host and author of Madoff Talks: Uncovering the Untold Story Behind the Most Notorious Ponzi Scheme in History)

“President Lincoln is assassinated in his private box at Ford’s!”

When those harrowing words ring out during a children’s entertainment in Washington on the evening of April 14, 1865, a quick-thinking young chemist from England named Johnnie Holmes grabs the 12-year-old son of the dying president, races the boy to safety, and soon finds himself enlisted in the most infamous manhunt in history.

One Must Tell the Bees is the untold story of Sherlock Holmes’ journey from the streets of London to the White House of Abraham Lincoln and, in company with a freed slave named after the dead president, their breathtaking pursuit and capture of John Wilkes Booth. It is the very first case of the man who would become known to the world as Sherlock Holmes, and as listeners will discover, it will haunt him until his very last.

At a time when Western history is being reexamined and retold, old heroes cast aside and statues torn down, and even the legacy of Abraham Lincoln, “the Great Emancipator”, is questioned, One Must Tell the Bees is a timely reminder that our history deserves to be understood before it is entirely undone.

©2021 J. Lawrence Matthews (P)2021 J. Lawrence Matthews

The Review

Such an incredible story! The combination of the author’s ability to capture the tone and writing style of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the narrator’s fluid and thematic speaking voice helped to draw the reader into the narrative. It was incredible how the author was able to bring to life the style of the original Sherlock Holmes novels that made him such an iconic literary figure. The amount of detail and precision that the author put not only in the narrative but into the dialogue of Sherlock Holmes himself was fascinating to read and watch unfold. The narrator was superb, really bringing that nineteenth-century English accent into the story and capturing the emotions and nostalgia that these characters and stories held for so many over the years.

The narrative itself was such a great story. The author found the perfect way to pay tribute to the original Sherlock Holmes stories through tone and atmosphere while shaking things up by exploring a young Sherlock Holmes and giving an alternate history that shows the famed London Detective taking to the streets of Washington DC and more. The addition of the detective’s hero being revealed as a Pinkerton agent was fascinating as well and allowed readers to get a glimpse into the formation of who Holmes would become known as in his future career. 

The Verdict

Nostalgic, entertaining, and thought-provoking, author J. Lawrence Matthews’s “One Must Tell the Bees” is a must-read historical fiction mystery novel! The audiobook version really created the theatrical nature of the setting and the narrative harnessed that classic literature style that really made this feel like an authentic Sherlock Holmes read. The captivating addition of this time period and the era of American History being so influential on the foundation of Holmes and his career in the future was brilliantly told, and if you haven’t yet, you need to grab your copy of this incredible audiobook today!

Rating: 10/10


Author: J. Lawrence Matthews

Narrator: Thomas Judd

Length: 19 hours 13 minutes

Publisher: East Dean Press

Released: Oct. 1, 2021

Genre: Mystery

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