A Rogue Librarian's Reading List

{May 1, 2011}   Death in the Air by Shane Peacock

Plot: When Monsieur Mercure, the famous trapeze artist, falls to his death, it is considered a tragic accident. But the young Sherlock Holmes suspects murder. He sees this case as his opportunity to make his name as investigator and some money, to make up for all that went wrong in his last case. His investigation takes him into the dark heart of the circus world and into the criminal underworld of London.

This is the second book in Peacock’s boy Sherlock Holmes series. Though the mystery itself stands on its own, reading this book before Eye of the Crow will spoil some very important plot points. Do so at your own risk.

This book took me a very long time to read  even though I enjoyed it. (It was in my purse for almost 3 months!) It’s a good mystery and an interesting look at performance artists in the Victorian period. The second part the story, with the pursuit of the Bristol gang is especially exciting. But don’t go in expecting an easy, happy conclusion. Sherlock is still a far way from the successful, respected detective we know and love.

One little thing bothered me, however. It is something that happens often in historical stories written for modern audiences: the hero is placed in opposition to the values and the knowledge of the day which are now considered backwards. But in doing so they fail to be true to the period. I have no problem with Sherlock having a progressive, scientific mind but that can be shown without constantly stating that he knows better than his contemporaries. It was a bit heavy handed.

(On a more nitpicky  note, as a judo practitionner, I feel the need to point out that while the story takes place in the 1860s, judo was created in the 1880s. Sherlock’s mentor must have had a hard time learning it.)

Challenges: Into the Old World Challenge (22), Canadian Ya Challenge (7). YA Historical Challenge (4)


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