Sunday, June 23, 2013

Book Review: No Place Like Holmes by Jason Lethcoe (No Place Like Holmes #1)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Fun, imaginative story; interesting main characters
Cons: Writing needs polish
The Bottom Line
Fun take on Sherlock
Will create many young fans
With fast paced story

First in a Fun Series for Kids

What do you get when you combine Sherlock Holmes and steam punk and aim it at Christian kids?  No Place Like Holmes, the first in a new series by Jason Lethcoe.  I'm well outside the target audience, but I enjoyed it.

Griffin Sharpe is not necessarily looking forward to his summer in London with his uncle.  For one thing, he's never met the man.  But along the way, he hears that his uncle might be the famous detective Sherlock Holmes.  Since Griffin has long thought of himself as a detective, he's thrilled.

It turns out his uncle lives at 221A Baker Street.  Rupert Snodgrass fancies himself a detective and inventor, although with his much more famous neighbor, he has a hard time getting any clients.  He's not happy to meet his nephew either.

But then Griffin brings his uncle a case.  A woman needs someone to find out what happened to her husband.  Seems he was eaten by the Loch Ness monster right in London.  That couldn't be true, could it?

The setup of the novel takes a bit of time, but it's all information you need to understand Griffin, Rupert, and their relationship.  Even then, by a quarter of the way into the book, the mystery is under way, and once that happens, the book really does become hard to put down.  I'm just familiar enough with the Sherlock Holmes stories to recognized a few of the characters who cameoed in the story, and felt the author did a good job of tying things into the established myth.

Griffin and Rupert are the two characters who really are developed in the book, and I felt they were fairly real.  Rupert is by far the one who grows the most, which is interesting since he's an adult in a kid's novel.  Usually, the adults are secondary characters and not well developed at all.  Anyway, Rupert's development ties directly into the themes about forgiveness and even pride, which are very obvious but not too preachy.

The only real flaw with the book is the writing.  Quite often we are told how characters are feeling, and it make it a little hard to fully immerse myself into the story as a result.  Hopefully, as the series progresses, the writing will get polished.

Because did I mention the cliffhanger?  The next book in the series is definitely set up in the last chapter, and I can't wait to see what happens next.

At the end of the book, there are two mini-mysteries to solve Encyclopedia Brown style (ending hidden and you have to figure out the clue that Griffin caught).  Plus there's a recipe for scones you can make later.

No Place Like Holmes was an enjoyable book that definitely made me want to read more.  Those looking for some good Christian books for their boys will be pleased with this series.

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