Friday, April 20, 2012

Guy Friday-- Adventure!

Lane, Andrew. Rebel Fire.
Publication 24 April 2012; first published as Red Leech in 2010

Sherlock is enjoying a quiet life with his aunt and uncle when his brother Mycroft shows up. Mycroft doesn't really want to talk to Sherlock; he's more interested in discussing the possibility that John Wilkes Booth has gotten out of Japan and is now in England with Sherlock's American tutor, Amyus Crowe. In his typical fashion, Sherlock goes off to investigate the house where Booth supposedly is holed up, and ends up sending the group packing... with his friend Matty in tow. Mycroft decides that in order to catch Booth and his cronies, Sherlock, Amyus and his daughter, Virginia will go to the US. Off they go on a boat, but of course they are being watched. Sherlock manages to dispatch that spy, and the trio land in New York. There, they have a lot of luck and manage to find Matty, but eventually get captured by the crazed Duke Balthassar, who is using leeches to manage his rare blood disease. Balthassar is the one who is trying to use Booth to rally pockets of Confederate sympathizers, and has managed to rally an army in Canada. When the US government finds out about this, they are willing to use the new technology of balloon travel to bomb the troops, but Sherlock believes there has been enough death. Can he stop the destruction and save his friends? What will Mycroft think? And will Sherlock ever get to kiss Virginia? Perhaps we'll get to find out in the next book, Black Ice.

Strengths
: Both this and
Death Cloud were beautifully written and evocative of a period of English history that's easy to romanticize. Country manors. Traveling on magnificent cruise ships. Mmmmm. Oh, then there's the action and adventure, with plenty of chases and fighting, to keep the boys interested. Now I really want to read Horowitz's House of Silk. group packing... with his friend Matty in tow. Mycroft decides that in order to catch Booth and his cronies, Sherlock, Amyus and his daughter, Virginia will go to the US. Off they go on a boat, but of course they are being watched. Sherlock manages to dispatch that spy, and the trio land in New York. There, they have a lot of luck and manage to find Matty, but eventually get captured by the crazed Duke Balthassar, who is using leeches to manage his rare blood disease. Balthassar is the one who is trying to use Booth to rally pockets of Confederate sympathizers, and has managed to rally an army in Canada. When the US government finds out about this, they are willing to use the new technology of balloon travel to bomb the troops, but Sherlock believes there has been enough death. Can he stop the destruction and save his friends? What will Mycroft think? And will Sherlock ever get to kiss Virginia? Perhaps we'll get to find out in the next book,
Black Ice.
Weaknesses: Sherlock's luck strains credulity, but that's what makes young adult literature so much fun. Even the realistic fiction is rather fantastic!

Horowitz, Anthony. The House of Silk.
After Sherlock Holmes' death, Dr. Watson recounts the most horrific tale of their investigating career, one which he wants sealed for 100 years after his death. Edmund Carstairs, an art dealer, seeks the help of the two because he believes he is being stalked by Keelan O'Donaghue, the head of the Flat Cap Gang, which was behind a train robbery that resulted in the loss of several very valuable paintings Carstairs' gallery was selling in the US. Back in London, Carstairs fears for his safety, and that of his new wife. When Sherlock investigate, he finds that seemingly unremarkable people in Carstairs' case seem also to be involved with an organization called the House of Silk, which is tied to horrific murders. Sherlock's brother Mycroft tells him to let it be, since his sources indicate that high level officials don't want this matter looked into, but of course this is not the case. Sherlock is framed in the death of a young girl and is in the most precarious position of his career. Plenty of twists and turns lead up to the conclusion of the mystery.
Strengths: This is definitely an adult novel, and it is a brilliant continuation of the Holmes chronicles, embracing Doyle's style in both style and theme. Horowitz has clearly read and researched in order to do justice to this character.
Weaknesses: The conclusion of the mystery precludes this from being included in a middle school collection, although high school could probably handle it. Nothing is described graphically, but the topic is still not really appropriate.

3 comments:

Jennifer said...

What?? You're not going to tell us the shocking conclusion? Darn, now I have to go find the book.

I like the young Sherlock Holmes books despite the complete inaccuracy of his relationship with a girl - in the original stories Holmes wasn't just uninterested in women, he clearly thinks they're intellectually inferior as a sex (except for Irene Adler)

Ms. Yingling said...

Well, I don't want to spoil the ending for people. And you're right about Holmes and women-- there was a thought in the back of my mind that something was wrong, and I think that was it. Updating the mythology for the new millenium is not bad, though-- after all, Justin Bieber is on the cover!

Camille said...

I listened to the audio version of this book. It was read by Derek Jacobi. Now sometimes actors read well but you are aware of who is reading. Derek Jacobi's performance was absolutely brilliant with this book. It was probably one of the best audiobooks I've ever listened to. I agree about the ending. Horowitz did honor the original stories extremely well. With the interest in the Holmes canon due to the movies and the PBS reboot it would be a great addition to the high school library.

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