11 February 2013

Review: Black Ice by Andrew Lane

Have you ever wondered how Sherlock Holmes became, well, Sherlock Holmes? Andrew Lane tackles that question in his series Sherlock Holmes: The Legend Begins, written for a middle grade audience.

In Black Ice, the third entry in the series, fifteen-year-old Sherlock is living at Holmes manor with relatives while his parents are out of the country and his brother, Mycroft, is in London. When not focusing on regular school subjects, Sherlock spends his time with Amyus Crowe, an American who, among other things, was once a detective.

Crowe teaches the boy many useful skills, such as the how to be observant and make deductions, and it is a delight to see a Sherlock who is still learning, who can make mistakes, and who is sometimes unsure of himself. Andrew Lane's depiction of the boy who would become the great detective is fantastic. Sherlock is curious and asks questions and clearly admires Crowe's talents, but he's also a teen, who can be a little impatient and careless and who sometimes acts without thinking though the consequences.

In addition, we meet Rufus Stone, a traveling musician (perhaps a gypsy?) who introduces the young Sherlock to the violin, an instrument that, if you remember, the detective eventually masters.

The basic plot is a locked-room murder that involves the victim and Mycroft. Sherlock and Crowe must save Mycroft from being convicted of the crime and sent to the gallows. The case takes Sherlock to the underside of London and, later, across the continent to Russia. Under the watchful eyes of Crowe, Stone, and Mycroft (out on bail), the teenager assists in working out how the crime was committed and why.

Black Ice is action packed with well-paced tension. I can't stress enough how perfectly imagined Lane's young Sherlock is. Although clearly geared to a middle grade audience, Black Ice is a joy to read, and I plan to catch up with the first two novels in the series.

I listened to the unabridged audiobook edition (Macmillan Audio; 6 hr, 54 min) read by James Langton. My audiobook review will be published by AudioFile magazine, but let me say here that Langton's performance is absolutely wonderful, pulling us into the story and making us want to listen to the whole book in one sitting.

This post will be linked to Kid Konnection, hosted by Julie at Booking Mama.

Buy Black Ice at an Indie or at bookstore near you. This link leads to an affiliate program.
Macmillan / Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR), 2013
ISBN-13: 9780374387693
Rating: B+

Source: Review (Audio) (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy).


caite 2/11/13, 8:41 AM  

I love Sherlock...but do I want to know his early, early years? Not sure I do.

rhapsodyinbooks 2/11/13, 8:48 AM  

I don't know why, but I just have not been able to warm up to Sherlock. Too weird in ways I don't get, I guess!

Daryl 2/11/13, 8:51 AM  

love books like this

Beth Hoffman 2/11/13, 10:59 AM  

I love Sherlock ... terrific review!

Zibilee 2/11/13, 1:15 PM  

I think I would also like this one in audio. A little Sherlock sounds fascinating, especially when you mention that he is unsure and new to the game. Very nice review! I want to check this one out soon.

bermudaonion 2/11/13, 2:14 PM  

Oh man, this sounds like a great way for me to be introduced to Sherlock. My mom is horrified that I've never read any of the books.

Julie P. 2/11/13, 7:20 PM  

What a great idea for a MG novel! Thanks for sharing!

Joanna Hennon 2/12/13, 9:49 AM  

How interesting, I didn't know this existed. These sound like great books to get young people into reading!

Margot 2/12/13, 7:57 PM  

I love the Sherlock stories. They're very clever mysteries. I forget where I read it but, somewhere in the literature, Doyle supposedly wrote his first Sherlock story at age 13. This series sparks my interest. Now I have to read it.

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