107. Death in the Air by Shane Peacock

Death in the Air by Shane Peacock (Canada) - (USA)
The Boy Sherlock Holmes, His 2nd Case

Pages: 254 pages
Ages: 10+
Finished: June 13, 2010
First Published: Apr. 2008
Publisher: Tundra Books
Genre: YA, historical mystery
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

What is it like to see a man die right before your eyes?

Acquired: Borrowed a copy from my local library.

Reason for Reading: Next in the series.

This second book in the series really works on 13-year-old Sherlock Holmes character. Peacock is laying the groundwork for how the boy became the man with all his idiosyncrasies. The first book started him off on detective work and showed us where he came from. This book continues by showing how Holmes developed his deductive reasoning as he moves in to apprentice with a very intelligent but down on his luck medical man, who is far ahead of the times with his medical ideas. We see Holmes' character continue to harden as he still refuses to get close to the girl he loves as his connections with the criminal world promise a threat to anyone he should care for. In this book, it is also suggested to Holmes that having a second brain to bounce his ideas off of could only improve his ability to put the pieces of a crime together and he enlists his first partner, by divulging the details of the case he is working on to his employer.

This is a tremendously fun story. Set in the Crystal Palace a famous trapeze artist falls to his death right at Holmes' feet. Holmes notices that the bar has been partially cut at both ends and the man speaks a cryptic message to him before falling into a coma. Determined to solve the case and claim the glory before Inspector Lestrade becomes aware this is more than an accident and can claim the glory as his own Sherlock finds himself in the dubious world of circus performers and theatrical types. Through his investigation it turns out that another crime, one that the police do know about, was committed at the exact same time. Sherlock may be in over his head this time as his chase takes him to the meanest, most dangerous part of London.

An exciting mystery, with many familiar elements of an authentic Sherlock Holmes story, Peacock does a very good job with his imagining of where Holmes came from and how he turned into the great detective, yet flawed man. The story gets quite dark and I wouldn't recommend for young or sensitive readers. There are some slightly bloody bits and the tension can get quite intense. Everything I love to find in a good mystery! The historical elements are also fascinating: the Crystal Palace, inside the somewhat shady world of early aerialists, Sherlock's first experience on a train and the description of Victorian London, mostly the poorer and seedy sides. A great book. I'm looking forward to his 3rd case.


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