Young Sherlock: Night Break by Andrew Lane

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Young Sherlock: Night Break by Andrew Lane

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Linda Lawlor
Reviewed by Linda Lawlor
Summary: Thrilling and touching, intriguing and terrifying, this adventure reflects the many contradictory aspects of the youthful Sherlock Holmes. A bizarre plot concerning the building of the Suez Canal is the setting for treachery both at the highest levels of society and, for our hero, much closer to home.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 304 Date: September 2015
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781447294566

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So now we know. The uneasy relationship between Sherlock and his older brother Mycroft, the young hero's determination to spend the rest of his days without close friends, and his eccentric attitude to life, all explained. No one can seriously claim that their whole character is determined by their family, but it is quite clear to readers by the end of this, the eighth in the series, that many of Sherlock's abilities, foibles, failings and interests owe a great deal to his somewhat unusual upbringing.

Indeed, not one of the Holmes family comes over as conventional. Sherlock's mother, whose death from consumption starts the story, drifted through their home as a distant, rather vague figure, leaving her three children to amuse and educate themselves. His father, a soldier in the British Army in India, suffers from a barely-controlled mental instability, and their daughter Emma seems to have inherited both their fragilities. The brilliant Mycroft, whom we have met several times before in the series, has a complex and mysterious career in London which is once again to cause danger and distress to his young brother.

A secret plea for help leads Sherlock and his friend Matty to Egypt, where the French are busy constructing the famous canal which is destined to shorten sea journeys. Our own government, sadly, is more focussed on the disaster such a feat of engineering would mean for British trade than on its benefits, and in order to save a life Sherlock finds himself having to accept a pact with dangerous enemies. It is as much the dilemma of such a compromise, where there is no good but only lesser evils, which will make this book more attractive to teen readers. Don't be fooled, though: action sequences, hidden codes and even a little light burglary keep our hero and his sidekick very, very busy indeed. In fact there's one particular scene where, frankly, it will be impossible for readers not to feel their skin crawling – but you'll have to read the book to see just how literal that image is!

This is the eighth book in the series, and the style and content has matured along with its hero. There's far less overt violence, which means it's also suitable for the upper end of the Confident Reader category, and the resolution, while as bizarre and exciting as ever, remains firmly within the bounds of logic. If you want to go back and watch Sherlock develop his many, many skills, Bookbag particularly recommends Young Sherlock Holmes: Fire Storm, Young Sherlock Holmes: Knife Edge and Young Sherlock: Stone Cold. And then, for another series about a young detective from the past, set in the Wild West this time, and with a slightly more light-hearted tone, you could turn to The Western Mysteries: The Case of the Deadly Desperados by Caroline Lawrence, then The Case of the Good-looking Corpse and The Case of the Bogus Detective by the same author. All thumping good reads!

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