Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Secret Fiend

(The Boy Sherlock Holmes series)
by Shane Peacock,
Tundra Books, 2010

You may remember that after young Sherlock's last adventure, he had taken early leave from the detection business. With the apparent return of the "Spring Heeled Jack," a fictional character from the Penny Dreadful thrillers, whose exploits played out in real life London about 30 years earlier and now threaten again, Sherlock is brought out of retirement. The Spring Heeled Jack has red eyes, super human strength and agility, breathes blue fire, and wears a black and green suit with bat-like wings. A terror to all who see and are attacked by him.

When the Jack attacks Beatrice Leckie, an old friend, and daughter of the local hatter, Sherlock reluctantly becomes involved. As he observes, investigates, and makes deductions, the suspects multiply. Could it be his own companion, Sigerson Bell? The politically ambitious Alfred Munby or the popular Robert Hide? Who is Malefactor really? Is it he, Sherlock's arch enemy, who is wreaking havoc and terrorizing the people of London, bringing chaos and possibly murder, as he has suggested he would? Does Beatrice herself, or her friend, Louise, have something to do with the case? And what does Sherlock's old love interest, Irene Doyle, know? She is, after all, far too close to the hoodlum Malefactor, and she is greatly changed.

With plenty of action, mystery, and red-herrings, and set during the time of England's first Jewish Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, when there was much social unrest, Peacock rushes the reader along at a dizzying pace. As this case resolves with typical Sherlock Holmes flair and the fever-pitch of last-minute revelation, the reader is left waiting breathlessly for the next installment in the series.

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