I so wanted to like this book. So many things that interested me: The children of Holmes and Watson! (Respectively, that is. Not, you know, *their* chI so wanted to like this book. So many things that interested me: The children of Holmes and Watson! (Respectively, that is. Not, you know, *their* children.) The Mutter Museum! Mysterious skeletons! Possibly real impossible creatures! What's not to like?
For starters, there is the fact that the book has so many typographical and grammatical errors that I kept checking the cover to make sure I wasn't reading an ARC. (Aside from one my own pet peeves - the use of "should of" instead of "should have" - repeatedly appearing, there was a particularly jarring moment when someone addressed John Watson and his son as "Dr. Holmes" and "Mr. Holmes".)
The uneven characterization and the awkward pacing then compounded a very serious problem of what the book is even trying to be. Is it a mystery? Is it a thriller? Is it a paranormal something-or-other? Is it a romance? Is it trying to be some combination of these and missing the mark on all of them?
I knew that Adelaide would wish to visit the detective and present her case to him as soon as possible. And I would be there by her side, of course,I knew that Adelaide would wish to visit the detective and present her case to him as soon as possible. And I would be there by her side, of course, to support her as she told her story. But I had my own reason for visiting Mr. Holmes and my own story to tell him, and so I had to reach him before she did -- and I had to speak to him alone.
Synopsis: Since losing both parents to typhoid fever four years ago, Dora Joyce has lived with her Aunt Ina, a very proper Victorian matron determined to mold the inquisitive, headstrong girl in her own image. During the day, Dora has been laced into corsets and taught to waltz, but in the evenings, she's been studying the adventures of the Great Detective chronicled in the Strand magazine. Following his methods, she has sharpened her observational skills. She has good reason to believe she might be able to emulate Mr Holmes: a deathbed confession from her mother that the detective is Dora's father. Now, with her cousin facing a blackmailer threatening to destroy her marriage, Dora finally has a reason to seek out the detective in London. The day she arrives at his Baker Street address, however, she is stunned by the headline screaming from the newspapers: Sherlock Holmes Killed in Switzerland
The detective she and her cousin consult leaves Dora distinctly unimpressed, but his young assistant sparks her interest. She learns that he knew Sherlock Holmes, his name is Peter Cartwright, and he seems to find her at least a little interesting, as well. Dora decides that she - with Peter's help - will go undercover to solve the mystery herself, as any child of the Great Detective would.
Review: Scheier's debut novel is a Sherlockian pastiche with a twist of romance in with the mystery. Several mysteries, actually, since the title might refer to a number of letters and a number of secrets, all of which tangle around each other, catching the spirited teenage heroine in the middle. Dora chafes at the restrictions society - by way of her Aunt - places on her, and she longs to be accepted for the person she really is. She finds a true peer in Peter, who looks beyond surfaces just as she does. Class distinctions of the period are explored through Dora's disguise as a house servant at Hartfield Hall, a role she manages to fill surprisingly (if perhaps a tad unbelievably) well while ferreting out clues.
The first few chapters have to introduce a lot of material about the characters and the setting, but the action picks up pace after that. Plots and sub-plots intertwine as ulterior motives abound above and below stairs at Hartfield. Sly nods to the original stories pop up here and there - little Easter eggs for those familiar with the Canon. This is a satisfying blend of mystery, adventure, and romance, with just enough comedic moments (usually resulting from Dora being a bit too clever for her own good) to balance the more serious elements.
Recommend to: Historical fiction and mystery fans, ages 12 and up.
Review for Twitter: Historical mystery with a touch of romance, perfect for the budding Holmesian.
Source: Checked out from my public library....more
I really liked getting Holmes' side of the story of his first meeting with Mary Russell. I love alternate POV versions of things I've read in general.I really liked getting Holmes' side of the story of his first meeting with Mary Russell. I love alternate POV versions of things I've read in general.
Speaking of POV, what I don't understand is the sudden jumping from first-person to third-person and back again. It's a peculiar stylistic choice in what was otherwise a rather enjoyable story....more