Andrew Lane’s exciting second case for the teenage Sherlock leads the young detective to America, straight into the heart of a shocking conspiracy.
I didn't read the first in this series, Death Cloud, but except for a few minor references to it, I don't think it hampered my understanding of this novel in any way. Sherlock is just learning to questions and observe, learning from his American teacher, Amyus Crowe, a sometimes agent for the Pinkerton Detective Agency. Amyus can make a lesson out of anything, even getting beat up and shot! He's kind of a loud brash American. He and his daughter Virginia are comfortable with Sherlock, but what Amyus' true purpose is, I don't know. It may have been addressed in Death Cloud. But he is definitely an agent working for the government.
Through some accidental circumstances, Sherlock finds himself in the hands of some nefarious characters and just barely escapes with his life at the quick thinking of his friend Matty. Now, I know the character of the adult Sherlock, and I'm guessing Andrew Lane is planting the seeds of that character in this novel, but Sherlock has men with guns after him, and he stops on the stairs to look at Matty's handiwork and how he tripped the man chasing him with the gun. I would think as smart as Sherlock is, he'd get out of there. But then the adult version of Sherlock is known to be cryptic and somewhat exasperating. This Sherlock proves to be at times. The pages upon pages of observation about the workings of the steam engine of the ship was something I completely skipped. I couldn't picture it in my mind and to me it added nothing to the story. But again, this is the kind of information Sherlock would store away for future use. The story carries Sherlock, Amyus and Virginia Crowe to America aboard a ship. They are after Matty who has been kidnapped. Sherlock is often reckless in trying to help and I'm guessing is learning his lessons at this young age so that he is a more rational man in his older age.
I liked Amyus Crowe and Virginia, they were both very open and friendly. The English characters were stiff (as I believe the author meant them to seem) but Sherlock was more open than them. He's brilliant, even at this age. And brave. He doesn't have the best of living situations and he's desperate to hang on to his friends, Virginia and Matty. The story moved slowly in the Sherlock observation stages and then picked right back up because he was usually in mortal peril while he was making these observations. That was annoying. But again, that's Sherlock Holmes. In all, I really enjoyed the story and think this is definitely a great novel for young adult readers. If you enjoy mysteries, on a grand scale, history- this one dealt with the Civil War, and/or Sherlock Holmes, you'll really enjoy this one. I don't think I'd call this a boy book. I'd call it a Sherlock Holmes book and you can't really classify those for one gender or another. They are classics and this one is too. I can't wait to read the next one!
I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher, Farrar, Straus and Giroux through NetGalley. This in no way influenced my review of the novel.
Also, there is a very detailed list of sources the author used for his information in the book at the end which some of you may find interesting. It's clear that Andrew Lane takes building young Sherlock's character into the one Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote, seriously.