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Book Review – A Marvelous Mystery! – Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche

By Nancy Springer

Sherlock Holmes’ younger sister Enola was born when he was leaving home to pursue his studies. They do not cross paths until July of 1888 when she is left motherless and on her own at the tender age of 14. Upon the disappearance of their mother, Enola sends word to her two brothers, Sherlock and Mycroft. They arrive unsure of what to do with a young girl, but soon realize that their mother has taught Enola how to take care of herself in any situation.

Soon after their reunion, Enola receives a letter from Dr. Watson, stating Sherlock was in a state deep depression.  She immediately goes to his apartment to see what she can do to help him. Whilst there, a young woman, Miss Letitia Glover, arrives in search of Sherlock’s help. Her twin sister has been reported as dead. The widowed husband states she died and there was no funeral or burial. Due to the state Sherlock is in, Enola immediately steps in to find the missing woman. Meanwhile, Sherlock is intrigued by the case and rouses to help his sister. Together they work tirelessly to find the answers Miss Glover needs to hear.

This fast-paced mystery is a delight to read. Sherlock is a character most of us know and love, Enola is just who you would imagine his sister would be. Both of them are masters of disguise, highly intelligent and resourceful. Set in the late 1800s Enola has to work under the constraints of the time, which makes her job more difficult, but she is up for the challenge.

This is book 7 in the Enola Holmes series by author Nancy Springer. It works very well as a stand-alone novel, but if you are like me, you will want to read the previous six books in the series as soon as you finish this one.

Ms. Springer is an award-winning prolific writer of many other books and series. While the Enola Holmes series is classified as a teen/young adult mystery series, it was a fun, interesting and fast read. I have watched the series on my local PBS station and have enjoyed it immensely – but the book is always better and that holds true with the Enola Holmes series as well.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2021 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Sherlock Holmes The Missing Years: Japan

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Sherlock Holmes The Missing Years: Japan

Vasudev Murthy

270 pages

Sherlock Holmes died at the hand of his arch nemesis Professor Moriarty. Much like Elvis, he is spotted in odd spots around the world afterwards, but his loyal friend and confidant Dr. John Watson has reconciled himself to the death of his dear friend and retired to the country with his wife. He has his papers and his memories as well as Holmes’ treasured Stradivarius, a thoughtful gift from Holmes’ brother Mycroft.

After two years he is comfortable with his life but a mysterious letter arrives beckoning him to Japan. It appears to be written by Holmes’ hand, in the brief style Holmes preferred. The entire message is as follows: “Watson, I need you. My violin, please. S. H.” . The envelop it arrived in also contains a first-class ticket aboard a merchant ship bound for Yokohama.

So begins Watson’s journey. Aboard the ship he encounters a deceptive bunch of characters. When his fellow passengers began dying, Watson jumps knee deep into the investigation, which unfortunately puts him on the murder’s radar.

After eluding total disaster, the very much alive Holmes and Watson begin a globetrotting race against time to get critical information to the Emperor of Japan to avoid disastrous events that may result in war. To compound the problem, Holmes can’t trust anyone because high ranking officials are colluding with Moriarty. The business of international drug smuggling is worth killing over, and the thugs involved are more than willing to execute anyone that gets in their way.

I love Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s books. Written from 1887 – 1927, are a hard act to follow. Murthy did an admirable job. The first half of the book was fabulous. It took me back to all of the original stories by Conan Doyle that I have read. The fast paced, smartly written, intriguing plotline had me turning pages to see what happened next.

Then the plot seemed to deviate a bit by adding long letters from others around Holmes during the missing years. Watson received them to fill in information he did not have first-hand knowledge of. These tended to be long-winded and dragged the forward motion of the book to a crawl. The footnotes about the editor (Murthy’s notes) were just a distraction.

The pace picked up a bit during the final chase and conclusion, but by then I was not as drawn to the plot as I was in the beginning.

If you are a Holmes fan, by all means read this book. It is well written with a solid storyline. The characters are interesting and are not at all who they seem to be, much to my delight. Thinking back over the cleverly subtle clues, all of the information needed to know “who done it” was there. But the number of red herrings rivaled those written by Conan Doyle – I’m sure he would have approved.

Copyright © 2015 Laura Hartman

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.

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Filed under Book Review, books, Japan, Mystery, Sherlock Holmes