For youthful readers with a taste for that grand master of sleuthing Sherlock Holmes, here is a treat --- a clever imagining of what life might have been like for the young fictional sleuth. About to begin his summer vacation from boarding school, the fourteen-year-old Sherlock learns that due to his mother’s ill health and his father having to go to India, he is to spend the holidays with remote relatives. The melancholy lad stoically heads off to Holmes Manor where his elderly aunt and uncle pay him little mind. After a few days of moping about and trying to stay clear of the ominous housekeeper, Mrs. Eglantine, Sherlock meets Matty, a scruffy canal-boat boy. Before long the two of them encounter some seriously scary bad guys, witness a puzzling cloud of smoke, and become deeply involved in attempting to solve a murder mystery. Add in an enigmatic American tutor and his engaging daughter, politics, and some very dangerous moments and suddenly Sherlock’s summer vacation is anything but dull.
Author Andrew Lane clearly knows his source material --- the original Sherlock Holmes stories of Arthur Conan Doyle --- and does a fine job sprinkling elements of them throughout this original work. He also has researched the time period (and provides a bibliography at the end of some of his sources), and so in addition to being an entertaining thriller the book is also a compelling work of historical fiction --- full of Victorian life and the politics of the time period.
The first in a series about the young Sherlock Holmes, the riveting Death Cloud definitely makes the reader eager for the next installment.
Reviewed by : ME.
Themes : MYSTERY AND DETECTIVE STORIES. MURDER. HISTORICAL FICTION.
CRITICS HAVE SAID
- A rollicking good read, this book will offer a solid introduction to the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for younger teens.
- A menacing villain and an unexpected twist make for a thoroughly engaging read that will keep readers turning pages.
School Library Journal
IF YOU LOVE THIS BOOK, THEN TRY:
Carbone, Elisa. Blood on the River: James Town 1607. Viking Juvenile, 2006.
Dowd, Siobhan. The London Eye Mystery. David Fickling Books, 2008.
Horowitz, Anthony. Scorpia Rising: An Alex Rider Mission. Philomel, 2011.
Stewart, Trenton Lee. The Mysterious Benedict Society. Little, Brown Young Readers, 2007.