Karen Keyte's Reviews > Death Cloud

Death Cloud by Andy Lane
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's review
Jun 18, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: teen-girls-adventure-mystery, teen-boys-adventure-mystery, teen-historical
Read from June 16 to 18, 2011

Summer 1868. Fourteen-year-old Sherlock Holmes is looking forward to some time at home during his term break from Deepdene School for Boys. He's thrilled when his older brother Mycroft shows up to fetch him and then deeply disappointed to discover he won't be going home after all. Instead, he's to spend his vacation in the town of Farnham with an elderly Uncle and Aunt he's never even heard of before. Fully resigned to a dull and lonely time, Sherlock instead finds adventure and friendship in this most unlikely of places. Curiosity leads him to investigate the deaths of two local men - deaths most everyone assumes are due to an outbreak of the plague. But as Sherlock, his unusual tutor Amycus Crowe, and his friends Matty and Virginia delve further into the mystery, they uncover a diabolical plot and a villain so sinister he truly makes men's blood run cold.

In my experience, modern novels featuring established literary characters are worth reading about, oh say thirty percent of the time. So I approached Death Cloud with some trepidation. I've read all of the Sherlock Holmes stories and novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and while I am not addicted to houndstooth and meerschaum, I am something of a fan of Conan Doyle's work. Some of the other, modern Sherlock Holmes stories - not so much. That's why Death Cloud was such a rare and wonderful surprise for me. As envisioned by Andrew Lane, Sherlock Holmes at fourteen is NOT just a miniature version of the consulting detective he will one day become. Rather, he is a young man just beginning to open his mind to new ideas, adopting some philosophies and discarding others. In short, in Death Cloud we see the first of the events and relationships that will eventually shape the man Holmes will become. It's a delicate balance - exploring the youth of Holmes and showing his basic character without attributing to him too many of his adult beliefs and eccentricities - but it is a balance that Mr. Lane achieves brilliantly.

Even if you've never read a single word by Conan Doyle, this is an adventure you can read and enjoy. The prose and pacing are perfect, the plot is exciting and filled with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing and the characters, always the heart of the best fiction, are interesting and likable (or hatable, as the case may be). I can't speak to the Holmes fanatics out there (you know who you are), because I'm not sure that any writer other than Conan Doyle can please them. I can tell you that this is a book casual Holmes fans (and those with no particular feelings for Holmes one way or the other) will relish. I look forward to the next installment of this fabulous new series.

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