November 27, 2015

Rebel Fire by Andrew Lane

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 1:39 am by suebe2

Rebel Fire
by Andrew Lane
Farrar Straus and Giroux

When young Sherlock Holmes hears that John Wilkes Booth, the assasin of America’s President Lincoln, is not only alive but possible in Britain, he decides to investigate for himself.  If he doesn’t his tutor Amyus Crow may have to leave Britain because it is his first job to track down Booth and other Southern sympathizers.  Sherlock doesn’t want Aymus or, more importantly, his daughter Virginia out of his life so he sets to work.

Unfortunately, young Holmes isn’t nearly as slick as he thinks he is and he is spotted and grabbed. He manages to escape but leads the men back to the Crow’s and his best friend, Matty.  When they grab Matty in his place, Sherlock refuses to give up.

Soon he and the Crows are on their way over sea to America.

There’s a lot of love in this series, the Legend Begins.  We get to see Sherlock developing his ability to reason through clues. In this particular book we witness his introduction to the violin.

Lane has created a youthful character who is every bit as arrogant, but lovably so, as the later Holmes.  These books would be an excellent introduction to this classic character for readers who are not yet ready to appreciate the original novels.

Where the original novels focus on mystery, these books are more adventure oriented as Sherlock boxes and battles his way clear of kidnappers and villains of various kinds.  Yes, there is a subtle mystery — who is using Booth and why — but this is much more of an adventure novel than the traditional mystery.  Just keep that in mind when deciding which young reader on your list to share it with!


October 15, 2015

Death Cloud by Andrew Lane

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 1:30 am by suebe2

Death Cloud: The Legend Begins
by Andrew Lane
Farrar Straus Giroux

I tend to have mixed feelings about the “well-known literary figure as a teen” books but something about this one intrigued me.  Maybe it was just the thought of Sherlock Holmes before he was a know-it-all.  Yes, I do actually like Sherlock Holmes but sometimes . . . sometimes I’d just like it if he would make a mistake.

As a young teen, Sherlock is pretty much a mistake looking for a place to happen.  He is book smart but people clueless.  I get the feeling that part of the problem is that he’s never had the chance to make friends.  Let’s just say that he and his siblings have never been encouraged to fraternize with the rabble.

But that’s exactly what he does on this particular summer break when he isn’t allowed to go home.  His father, a military man, has been shipped out to India.  His older brother Mycroft is already employed in London.  His mother isn’t taking things well.  So Sherlock is shipped off to an aunt and uncle he’s never met.

Although he gets in trouble for striking up a friendship with an orphan who lives on a narrow boat, he and Matty hit it off.  Matty may not have much formal education but he’s naturally observant and proves an able ally when Sherlock decides to investigate two deaths that the local authorities first mistake for plague.

Lane has created a believable teen version of Holmes.  Already some of his quirks are evident and it is easy to see how some of the others will develop.  The characters are all well-developed and believable although sometimes the villain seems over-the-top.  That said, the story is a wonderful mystery with a healthy dose of adventure.  There are hints of romance but I don’t remember anything more than a bit of hand holding, and if you can’t hold hands when you think you are both about to die, when can you do it?

If you have a middle grader who likes Sherlock Holmes or anything set in this period, share this book with them today.


January 29, 2015

The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets by Nancy Springer

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 1:05 am by suebe2

The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets
by Nancy Springer

This isn’t a new book but young mystery lovers should check it out.

Enola Holmes.  That name may sound a bit familiar.  At least, her last name might.  She is the sister of none other than the renowned detective Sherlock Holmes.

Enola is every bit as brilliant and unconventional as her brother.  That might be acceptable if she was a boy, but Enola is a young lady in a world that expects very specific things from a girl.  A girl who departs too much from what is expected might very well find herself declared insane and committed to an institution.  Enola actually knew a woman who was committed after sitting on the ground.

Not that Enola thinks that her brothers would do this (she does have two brothers, you know), but she’d rather avoid finishing school or anything else they might dream up for her.  She has rented a room and taken on work as a locator of missing persons.  Her latest case is to find none other than Dr. Watson.  The police are having no luck and from the clues she has seen, Enola suspects that the kidnappers are women.  After all, they know the language of flowers and they know it well — something no man would be bothered to pursue.

As Enola searches London’s alley ways and rooftops for clues, she has to watch her step and it isn’t just the filth of this urban center she needs to avoid.  Her brothers are still looking for her.  In fact, she has to decide if the secret message left for her in the newspaper is from her mother or if it is a trap set by a brother.

I’m not going to give you any more about the plot because this is a mystery.  I don’t want to give anything away.  Springer expertly plants both clues and red herrings so this one is great fun to try to solve as you read.

This book is equal parts historic fiction and mystery.  Springer brings both the squalor and wonders of London to life.  But equally real are her characters from the brilliant figures of Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes to the caring concern of both Doctor and Mrs. Watson.

This is book four in the series.  While readers would surely enjoy books 1-3, it is possible to start with and understand book 4.  Share it (or all of them) with the young mystery fan in your life.



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