The Case of the Missing Marquess: An Enola Holmes Mystery by Nancy Springer.
The Plot: Enola Holmes' mother has disappeared. The fourteen year old calls on her two older brothers, Mycroft and Sherlock, to assist; but they seem more interested in Enola being turned into a proper young lady than in what has happened to their mother. Enola takes matters into her own hands.
The Good: I was introduced to Sherlock Holmes by Saturday morning replays of Basil Rathbone movies. I've read the books and most of the books about Holmes, and also watched the various film incarnations.
Introducing a new character into established canon is tricky. Springer pulls it off, in part by making Enola's mother very modern for her time, so that Enola's modern views do not seem out of place for 1888. Enola has been protected by her mother; may be a bit innocent about certain things; but she is quick, and intelligent, and learns quickly.
Enola learns things about her mother, and her brothers; at first unsettling and disturbing, but ultimately what Springer does is use this to say: women were in a pretty powerless place in the late 19th century. When one is without power, what can one do? And when one is underestimated, how can one turn that to their advantage?
Enola is searching to find her mother and also gets caught up in the investigation of a missing Marquess. While Sherlock may view women as inferior, Enola's detecting skills and disguises show that she is her brother's sister. The mystery is solved -- solved to a degree to satisfy, but there are still questions. Since two more mysteries are planned, I hope we learn more about Enola, her mother, her brother, and the mystery of Enola's birth. (She thinks it is just that she was a late in life baby, so a disgrace; but I'm suspicious, since Enola's mother was 50 at the time of the time of her daughter's birth).
And I almost forgot: it's a mystery without ghosts. For the longest time, it seemed that all mysteries involved the supernatural, and lately I've been reading real, honest to goodness mysteries. I cannot wait for the next school reading assignment, I will be well prepared!
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