Young Sherlock Holmes – Death Cloud by Andy Lane #AtoZ

This post is part of the 2016 April A to Z Challenge.

Young Sherlock Holmes: Death Cloud (as it is known in English) by Andrew Lane takes place in the 1860’s with a fourteen-year-old schoolboy Sherlock Holmes solving his very first mysterious case.

As someone who has grown up with the original Sherlock Holmes canon and more recent TV regenerations of the sleuth from Baker Street, I was intrigued by this book.

Sherlock is meant to spend the summer with his aunt in the country, and the teenager couldn’t be more bored by that prospect.

The case Sherlock comes across involved a mysterious cloud, which descends on people and leaves them dead and covered in boils. However, at age 14, Sherlock’s world-famous deductive skills are still seriously lacking. His sidekick is not a teenaged version of John Watson but a boy called Matty. And while Matty is a great character and their friendship is nicely written, Sherlock is disappointing for fans of the sleuth.

Young Sherlock Holmes is not at all what I expected. While I find the concept of a teenaged Sherlock really intriguing, it is hard to reconcile this young boy who suggests rather than deduces and has a love interest with the well-known adult Sherlock Holmes everyone knows. If the premise of a book is the childhood of one of the best known fictional detectives ever, I would expect that at least some part of the story hints at what shaped this teenager into the aloof, friendless and highly analytical sleuth people know.

A Sherlock Holmes story – no matter how old the protagonist happens to be – should be clever, witty, interesting, and at the end baffling. Unfortunately, this novel is none of that. Granted, the plot is original, as are most of the characters, but the character of Sherlock feels wrong for true fans.  It reads like sophisticated fanfiction, and  – dare I say it? – there’s more convincing fanfiction out there which explores Sherlock’s childhood in Victorian England. If the protagonist had any other name, I doubt I would have recognised that he’s meant to be the detective.

 

My Rating: ♥♥

Title: Young Sherlock Holmes: Death Cloud
Author: Andrew Lane
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s
Release Date: June 4, 2010
Pages: 313
ISBN:  978-0330511988

A Study In Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle #AtoZ

This post is part of the 2016 April A to Z Challenge.

Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet is one of those classics that anyone interested in detective stories should read.

It introduces the world to consulting detective Sherlock Holmes and his friend and colleague, Dr John Watson, who reside at 221b Baker Street. This novel is not only the very first Sherlock Holmes story written, it is also the story that defines what becomes one of the most legendary friendships and partnerships in literature.

The novel is narrated by John Watson, and laid out as Watson’s factual reminiscence rather than a fictional account. The personal style of having Watson lead through the story gives a glimpse into how the people Holmes associates with most see him.

While the story starts with Watson’s experiences of the war in Afghanistan and then later Holmes and Watson meeting and renting rooms together, it soon evolves into their first case as a crime fighting duo. Some of the methods Holmes and Scotland Yard apply may seem so common place or even outdated now, but at the time the story was first published in 1887, these methods, like using magnifying glasses and measuring crime scenes, were at the cutting edge of forensic investigation. And yet, the readers are left just as baffled at Holmes’ deductions as Watson.

It may seem weird at first that quite a substantial part of the story about this quintessential British detective duo is set among the Mormons in Salt Lake Valley, but it all relates to the case of a murdered man in Brixton. By seeing the entire case through Watson’s eyes, readers immediately get drawn in and immersed in the story with an insight into the dynamic of the friendship between Holmes and Watson and all their acquaintances.

It’s a great read and even after nearly 130 years, the baffling case and the genius of Sherlock Holmes remain as legendary as ever. As does the friendship with Watson, which began in and because of A Study in Scarlet.

 

My Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Title: A Study in Scarlet
Author: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Release Date: October 1, 2001 (originally published in 1887)
Pages: 143