Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Book Review: Young Sherlock Holmes

I've realized that when I have to make a rule that whenever I go to the library I can only check out as many books as I return, I may have a problem. That said, I have been finding a lot of good books at the library recently. I read book 10 of the How to Train Your Dragon series and then got upset when I realized there's going to be another book and I have to wait to find out how it all ends. Brandon Sanderson came to the library (score!) and I bought his new book The Rithmatist and had him sign it while I asked him how to be a fantasy writer in an MFA program (double score!). He told me to stick to my guns, and I intend to do so.

Okay, so another book that I found that I got really excited about is Death Cloud by Andrew Lane. It's about a 14-year-old Sherlock Holmes staying with his aunt and uncle over the holidays while his brother Mycroft takes care of the family and his father is away in India. Although Sherlock thinks his holiday is going to be dull, he gets caught up in two mysterious murders.

Get this: this book is the first in a series that is the first teen series ENDORSED by the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle estate. This is legit.

So, my review. I loved it. Sherlock isn't as cold and calculating as we know him as an adult, and he's not as good a detective as you'd expect. This threw me off a little when I first started reading, but when I thought about it, it made sense. As a teenager, Sherlock wouldn't have the experience or knowledge that would make him the world's only consulting detective. But you see the seeds of it. He's good a deducing things about the world around him, he turns to logic when in danger, and he's overly fond of being clever.

I can see why the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle estate would endorse it. Lane did a great job of piecing together Sherlock's past, or what could have been Sherlock's past, from the clues in the books. Reading about this clever, nosy, yet somewhat socially inept boy, I could see him growing into the Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street. It fit.

I also enjoyed Sherlock's mentor, Amyus Crowe. Crowe is a tutor hired for Sherlock by Mycroft, but Crowe teaches more than math and Latin. He teaches Sherlock how to think, how to track someone, how to hide in plain sight...all the skills Sherlock uses later in life. And, if I'm being completely honest, I like that Crowe is American. National pride coming out here.

So, I recommend it, especially if you like Sherlock Holmes. Don't expect the unruffled detective, though, and don't expect Sherlock to have all the answers. Not yet. But as a fan, I enjoyed catching all the little references and nods to Arthur Conan Doyle's works. I'm looking forward to reading Book 2, Rebel Fire.

If you like catching nods and references to literary works, try reading Dodger by Terry Pratchett. Charles Dickens, Sweeney Todd, and of course, Dodger himself, all wrapped up in an intrigue. Good stuff.

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