Book three of the 48-hour Book Challenge binge. You will notice a distinct lack of proof-reading in my blogging today… I am not forgoing sleep or food.But can I just say? Love is when your spouse says, while making a necessary trip to pick up coffee and other essentials, “I’ll drive so you can read.”
When we left the young Sherlock Holmes at the end of the first book in this series, he had solved the Whitechapel murders (though Inspector LeStrange had claimed all the credit) at a devastating personal cost. The son of a Jewish merchant and an upper class woman cast out by her family, he’s inherited a keen intelligence and love of leaning from both his parents, and as the reader knows, is destined for greatness. At the age of thirteen, he’s not there yet, and is desperately craving acknowledgement and adoration.
His next big case lands at his feet, quite literally. When a trapeze artist plummets to his death at Sherlock’s feet and gasps out “Silence… me…” Sherlock immediately suspects foul play. He’s also in a perfect position, attending the death-defying performance at the Crystal Gardens, to observe the suspiscious marks on the ill-fated trapeze before the evidence is trampled by the circus-going crowds. But the police are ill-inclined to listen to him, and he’s proudly determined to catch the killer and demand a reward. Since the tragic events of the first book, he’s taken on a job and lodgings with an eccentric apothecary, and set his sights on the lofty goal of college.
The trapeze artist survived the fall and is lingering unconscious on the brink of death. His young apprentice seems remarkably unaffected by his master’s accident. There’s a lover’s triangle at work inside the circus, and everyone involved seems to have a mysterious past. Meanwhile, a series of robberies are sweeping London, a large sum of money has vanished from the safe at the Crystal Palace, and the apothecary is on the verge of being evicted.
Now the reward money is crucial. It’s going to take all of Sherlock’s wits and wiles, some skill at interrogation and deception, and information grudgingly extracted from Malefactor, the young gang leader of the Trafalager Street Irregulars, to put together the pieces.
Peacock’s got a lofty style that suits young Sherlock perfectly, and there’s a wealth of tangible detail here about the underbelly of Victorian London, from show business to deadly back alleys and warehouses. The plot’s suitably convoluted, darkly twisted, and full of betrayal. You can already see the pieces fitting together that will make him into the adult Sherlock Holmes we all know. If anything, this one’s even better than the first book. I, for one, am looking forward to book three.