It is the summer of 1868, and Sherlock Holmes is fourteen. On break from boarding school, he is staying with eccentric strangers—his uncle and aunt—in their vast house in Hampshire. When two local people die from symptoms that resemble the plague, Holmes begins to investigate what really killed them, helped by his new tutor, an American named Amyus Crowe.
So begins Sherlock’s true education in detection, as he discovers the dastardly crimes of a brilliantly sinister villain of exquisitely malign intent.
What was Sherlock Holmes like as a kid? As a teenager? So little is known about his childhood from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories and Andrew Lane tries to answer those questions with his series about the Young Sherlock Holmes.
14 year old Sherlock was something of a surprise to me. I was expecting a child genius. Sort of a miniature version of the adult Sherlock. But of course that isn’t how Andrew Lane depicted him at all. This version of Sherlock is just becoming a man, just learning to use his powers of observation and deduction. It made sense that he was still a boy.
Since so little is also known about Sherlock’s family, aside from his brother, Mycroft, that it was interesting to see Andrew introduce a father who was in the military, a sickly sister named Charlotte and a mother, all whom are still alive at this point. Mycroft is the only person in Sherlock’s family that has an active role in the story. Well, him and Sherlock’s aunt and uncle on his father’s side.
Another little shock I had was when Sherlock talked or thought about his brother, Mycroft. There was genuine affection there, when later in life, there’s not as much. Which begs the question, what causes the rift between these brothers? And will Andrew Lane eventually show it in one of his books?
Sherlock’s tutor, Amyus Crowe, was an interesting character. One that I enjoyed reading, since he kept dropping very informative tidbits about tracking people and identifying them. Like at one point he tells Sherlock to look at people’s ears to ID them because they’re distinctive.
The mystery (Sherlock’s first) and investigation that took place were worthy of having the title Sherlock Holmes. I found it very mystifying and couldn’t guess at all to how it would all turn out, which is the mark of any good mystery.
Overall, I thought this was a good children’s novel, regardless if one has read the original Sherlock Holmes stories, and look forward to the next in the series. Maybe it will take place at Sherlock’s school? I would be interested to see him interacting with his “peers”.
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