Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Gravedigger's Club

32446366Harris, Robert J. The Gravedigger's Club (The Artie Conan Doyle Mysteries #1)
May 1st 2017 by Kelpies
Copy received from the publisher for the Cybils Awards

Artie and his friend Ham are on an extended break from their boarding school because it has to be repaired, so they are trying to find things to keep themselves occupied. They have heard rumors that odd things are occurring in local church yards, so sneak out at night to investigate. It's not that hard-- Artie's father is a bit too fond of drink, and not as fond of going to work as he should be. The two manage to get in with some of the local constabulary as well as some local gravediggers, and uncover a number of mysteries. Is it really the ghost of the Gray Lady wandering about looking for her true love, or are there more sinister forces on the prowl in 1870s Edinburgh, Scotland?
Strengths: I have a great fondness for Harris, whose work with Jane Yolen (the young Greek heroes series, as well as the Stuart Quartet) is quite superb. I wasn't aware he had done so many other books, but most of his work doesn't seem to have made it to this side of the pond. I'm also a great fan of this time period, and the Andrew Lane Young Sherlock Holmes series is great fun. It's an interesting twist to be reading about this time period through the lens of Doyle rather than Holmes, and Ham and Artie tackle their investigations with great good humor and a sense of derring-do. The mention that Greyfriar's Bobby, the dog, had just passed away after sitting at his master's grave for 14 years was a nice touch.
Weaknesses: The boys seem to get away with a lot of things that children today would not be able to manage, and the book in general might be hard for young readers to understand. A bit more background information might have been helpful for clueless US readers.
What I really think: The paperback of this is actually available through Follett, so take a look if Lane's series, or Holmes stories in general, are popular in your library. I will probably pass, since the Lane is only checked out by a couple of my readers every year.
Ms. Yingling

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