Death Cloud

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Click for availability and more information Death Cloud, by Andrew Lane
 
It's 1868 and fourteen-year-old Sherlock Holmes has been sent off to live with his Uncle and Aunt in far-off Hampshire during his summer vacation from school, while the rest of his family, including older brother Mycroft, are scattered elsewhere. Sherlock strikes up a friendship with a homeless boy, Matty Arnatt, who has seen someone murdered by a strange black cloud. With the aid of Matty, mysterious American tutor Amyus Crowe, and Crowe's daughter Virginia, Sherlock uncovers a diabolical plan to undermine the British Empire by the sinister Baron Maupertuis. But can a boy Sherlock's age, mostly ignored by the authority figures around him, be able to foil the Baron's plan?

Andrew Lane's Death Cloud is an exciting Young Adult mystery/adventure that moves along at a fast pace. Sherlock and the other characters are well delineated with believable traits and motivations (even Maupertuis has a backstory that explains his actions) and there are many stand out moments, like Sherlock and Matty battling an intruder on their boat and Sherlock's later encounter with the Baron's henchmen under London Bridge. Lane also evokes a very real portrait of Victorian England, with nice attention to period detail.

The only trouble is that we discover the "Death Cloud" that the Baron plans to use to destroy England is revealed as an ultimately far-fetched plot element that would've been right at home on 1960s TV shows like The Avengers and The Wild Wild West (or even more recent series like The X-Files and Fringe) but not in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classic Holmes stories. (Although Holmes fans will pick up the in-joke reference concerning what's really inside the cloud and a certain hobby -no, not drugs- Holmes takes up late in his adult life. Still...) But that slightly off-putting story device aside, Death Cloud, the first in a new series on Holmes' adventures as a teen-age sleuth (and authorized by the Doyle Estate), is a thrilling adventure tale and lots of fun!
-Ed

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This page contains a single entry published on June 13, 2011 9:20 PM.

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