A new de­tec­tive from the Sher­lock Holmes fam­ily

Napier Courier - - NEWS -

The Case of the Miss­ing Mar­quess — Nancy Springer (Allen & Un­win, $16.99) re­viewed by Louise Ward, War­dini Books.

Who knew Sher­lock Holmes had a lit­tle sis­ter?

In this novel for peo­ple of about 10 and up, Enola is the shame of the Holmes fam­ily; an in­ap­pro­pri­ate late lamb, many years the ju­nior of Sher­lock and My­croft with whom she has had no con­tact since her fa­ther’s death when she was four. Their mother had a fall­ing out with the boys and Enola has been left to ram­ble the fam­ily es­tate alone (Enola spelt back­wards) un­til our novel be­gins with the dis­ap­pear­ance of Mrs Holmes on, of all days, Enola’s 14th birthday.

Her fa­mous broth­ers so far fail­ing to solve the mys­tery, Enola de­cides to use the clues around her home to mount her own in­ves­ti­ga­tion. She ven­tures into the wider world she knows lit­tle about. She be­comes em­broiled in the dis­ap­pear­ance of a lo­cal noble­man, 12-year-old Vis­count Tewks­bury, and she is thrilled to dis­cover that her iso­la­tion has re­fined her pow­ers of ob­ser­va­tion — she just might be a de­tec­tive.

The story is writ­ten with the lan­guage and at­mos­phere of a young lady grow­ing up in Vic­to­rian Eng­land. Enola, al­though raised by a pro­gres­sive, rather bo­hemian mother, is re­quired to have proper man­ners and dress. Bus­tles, corsets and cov­er­ing an­kles end up be­ing handy for con­ceal­ing es­sen­tials such as money, a book of ci­phers and a pocket knife. Enola is an in­no­cent abroad, shocked by a dirty, poor and vi­o­lent Lon­don’s fright­en­ing crim­i­nal un­der­class.

She doesn’t im­me­di­ately plan, de­duce and solve but learns through harsh ex­pe­ri­ence. By the end of the story it’s clear that there will be more mys­ter­ies for Enola Holmes to un­ravel.

This is a fast-paced, thrilling story that con­fronts the seamy, dark side of crime — there is men­tion of mur­der and pros­ti­tu­tion — as well as clev­erly us­ing Vic­to­rian mores for hu­mour and plot de­vel­op­ment.

Highly rec­om­mended for lovers of de­tec­tive sto­ries who are ready to get out of the board­ing school trope and over to the darker side.

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