165. The Secret Fiend by Shane Peacock

The Secret Fiend by Shane Peacock (Canada) - (USA)
The Boy Sherlock Holmes, His 4th Case

Pages: 244
Ages: 12+
Finished: Aug. 17, 2010
First Published: May 11, 2010
Publisher: Tundra Books
Genre: YA, mystery, historical fiction
Rating: 5/5

First sentence:

There have been many late knocks on the old apothecary's door.

Acquired: Received a review copy through LibraryThing's Early Review Program.

Reason for Reading: Next in the Series.

Shane Peacock has made it to the 4th book in this series and in my opinion the best one so far. I've been consistently rating the books a 4/5, knowing that Mr. Peacock had something more to give that was waiting for my full five rating and "The Secret Fiend" fits the bill. Oh, the case is a bit out there but then some of Doyle's cases were also so I won't hold that against an author who can hold it all together.

Sherlock, who has decided to wait until he has become a man to resume detecting, has been spending his time on his studies: academic, mental and physical, when a very close friend from childhood, Beatrice, arrives at his door saying she and a friend have been attacked. She tells a wild tale and will he come and help find her friend. One thing leads to another and Sherlock decides that this time the case has chosen him and he takes it on. Apparently, all over the East Side of London a figure who may be (or is just dressed like) the legendary character Spring-Heeled Jack is on the loose frightening women, leaving notes about chaos and finally seems to be the culprit in a gruesome murder.

Sherlock is older now, at 14 years-old his studies are quite academic and he sees his future ahead of him, but unfortunately feelings keep getting in his way, interfering with logical deduction. So he continues to struggle with giving up personal feelings. Holmes' character has grown very much over the four books where he is now poised on the edge of the Sherlock Holmes character we know from the source.

Peacock presents us with a fast-paced, action packed, atmospheric and at times dark mystery. The usual character's from the past books return but there are changing dynamics between friends and foes that are very different from earlier books. We get a good inside look into the political and social arena of the times as Disraeli, the first ever Jew, becomes Prime Minister. Peacock also throws a nod out to Robert Louis Stevenson in this book by having a secondary character known only as Louise for most part until eventually her last name is revealed to be Stevenson and further on we are told her father's name is Robert.

I really enjoyed the mystery and was so involved in all the activities going on between Sherlock and the various characters, that while I had the suspects listed in my head I never bothered to try to figure out whodunit as I was having too much fun being wrapped up in all the other story threads. Peacock gives a major clue (to the overall story arc of the series) in this book that Holmesian fans will have solved in a heartbeat, but will make no sense to those who haven't read (or watched) Holmes before. I was excited with this reveal as I had been guessing at it for the last couple of books now and it makes book five an even more eagerly anticipated read. This book (along with the others) is well-written and I don't hesitate to recommend them to adults as well as teens.


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