Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Summer Reading 2016 The Great Shelby Holmes


This book was a delight to read. John Watson moves to 221 Baker Street in New York with his mother. His mom has recently finished her tour of duty as a military doctor, and is still recovering from a wound she received in Afghanistan. Their new landlady,  Mrs. Hudson, introduces John to the girl who lives in apartment 221B, Shelby Holmes. Shelby has an older brother named Michael and an English bulldog named Sir Arthur. For those familiar with the Sherlock Holmes canon, many such references will pop off the page.

John is used to making new friends due to his life as a military brat, but this is the first time he has moved to a new place that wasn't an Army post and without his father. His parents are no longer together and his mother has chosen their apartment to be near her new job and a great school for John. But school isn't in session yet and John doesn't know anyone or even know his way around the neighborhood. With Shelby as a native guide, he soon learns how to take the bus and the subway around town, and he also discovers that everyone in their area knows Shelby. It seems that she is a very precocious child who has solved mysteries all over the neighborhood, much to the annoyance of Detective Lestrade of the NYPD. John gets swept up in a cased with her when Shelby's classmate Tamra asks for help in finding her missing dog. Can they track down the disappearing pooch before Saturday's big dog show?

Adapting the relationship of Holmes and Watson to be a friendship between two kids must have taken some serious effort, but the result is a story that pulls you in and has you turning the pages as quickly as you can to find the answers. Fans of the original stories, or of later film and television adaptations will find many familiar details - a dog that doesn't bark in the night, exhortations to observe rather than just see, references to not wasting space in the brain attic with facts that won't help to solve cases, etc. Viewers of the BBC "Sherlock" will find Shelby's lack of social graces very similar to the other Holmes, and also recognize Watson's self-appointed task of smoothing the way with manners and tact.

For mystery lovers and readers who like buddy adventures, this is a satisfying middle grade chapter book, even if they are not Sherlockians. (They may not be when they start the book, but they will probably be converted by the end.) Let's hope we can look forward to many more cases for this daring duo.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

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