Saturday, June 1, 2013

Death cloud by Andrew Lane

Sherlock Holmes is waiting to go home for the school break, but instead he is sent to live with relatives he has never met because his father has been sent to India to serve his country.  It is an uncertain time, and Sherlock quickly discovers that he is not a welcome guest is his aunt and uncles home, but it is not them who make him feel truly unwelcome - it is the housekeeper.  It looks as though it may be a dull summer with little to do except feel like an intruder, but then he meets Matty a local boy, and he meets his new tutor Amyus Crowe.  He also stumbles across a mystery in desperate need of solving.

It began with the mysterious death of one man, a death that Matty almost witnessed, but he definitely witnessed the dark cloud that moved away from the place where the man died - a dark cloud that Sherlock also witnesses when he finds a dead body on his aunt and uncles property.  With the discovery of the two bodies the people in the town are starting to panic, packing up their belongings and moving away from the plague that they fear is about to spread like wildfire, but something is tickling in the back of Sherlock's brain, a tickle that gets stronger when Crowe encourages him to develop his reasoning skills.  What is the connection between the plague and the mysterious warehouse that Sherlock found in town, and what is the connection to the boxes in the warehouse?

Death cloud is the first book in a series that follows the development of a teenage Sherlock Holmes, laying the foundations for the man that will one day become the worlds most famous detectives.  Welcome to a world where the young Sherlock Holmes is an extraordinary teenage boy, one who is coming to terms with a situation that would frustrate most teenagers - a change of plans and expectations that leads to some extraordinary encounters.  Here are the first glimmers of an ability to connect the dots, an ability to see beneath the surface and understand what others can not - a skill that is enhanced and nurtured by the appearance of his tutor Amyus Crowe.

I have not read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, a fact that may have made this more enjoyable for me, but I have read stories based around him including books about the Baker Street Irregulars which mention Holmes in passing.  I find this time period particularly engaging and interesting, and Lane has done an amazing job of working historical facts and accuracy into his rendition of Holmes.  At times he was a little heavy handed with some of the descriptions, but I was thoroughly tangled in the story from the start.

The authors afterword provides quite a bit of information about Lane's motivation for writing the series, and provides an idea of where his character comes from - the stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle with a healthy dose of other sources.  It is a challenge to take someone else's character and write a convincing and engaging story - but Lane has managed to define a teenage Sherlock Holmes that shows the promise of the adult Holmes that has come to be well known through novels, movies, and tv series.  This is one for anyone who likes a good mystery built around strong characters in a world that is both realistic and relateable - I look forward to reading more books in the series to see if Lane is able to keep building on the strong foundations of Death cloud

If you like this book then try:
  • The case of the Ranjipur ruby by Anthony Read
  • The case of the Limehouse laundry by Anthony Read
  • The ruby in the smoke by Philip Pullman
  • The shadow in the North by Philip Pullman
  • Silverfin: Young James Bond by Charles Higson
  • The case of the missing Marquess: an Enola Holmes mystery by Nancy Springer
  • The case of the left-handed lady: an Enola Holmes mystery by Nancy Springer
  • The paranormal puppet show by Justin Richards
  • Shadow beast by Justin Richards

Reviewed by Brilla

No comments:

Post a Comment