Young Sherlock: Stone Cold by Andrew Lane

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Young Sherlock: Stone Cold by Andrew Lane

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Linda Lawlor
Reviewed by Linda Lawlor
Summary: After his extended adventures abroad the young Sherlock settles back into life as a student. But he's soon drawn into another case involving body snatchers, a house that appears to move and a very famous author. As his brother Mycroft always says, there are questions and mysteries everywhere.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 307 Date: September 2014
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781447272571

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Every human being is a mystery, even to themselves, so there's a particular pleasure to be found in tracing the roots of someone's interests and life's work. Just how did our hero develop his ability, for example, to tell a person's character, profession and history within minutes of meeting him or her? In this, the seventh volume in the series of books about the early years of the famous Sherlock Holmes, we see how events and a most intriguing couple of mentors combine to lead him down a path to his eventual role as a consulting detective. Well, if he survives till adulthood, that is. Of all his talents the most pronounced one does seem to be the knack of finding people who are determined to kill him.

Sherlock has had a lively and eventful couple of years. Kidnapped and sent to China, then caught up in diplomatic wrangling and murder most foul in Ireland, he is at last promised (or threatened: he's unsure which) a quiet life as he catches up on his interrupted studies with a view to eventually gaining a degree at Oxford University. He moves to a boarding house in the ancient city, where he meets up with a diverse group of students and lecturers, and uncovers a gruesome plot to steal body parts from the local morgue. Meanwhile he is enjoying the intellectual challenges of his tutor, one Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. Yes, that's right, the creator of Alice. And once you've read this book, you will never look at one of the characters from that world through the looking glass in quite the same way!

In our contemporary world of helicopter parenting and cascades of rules regarding health and safety, it comes as a shock to see just how much freedom Sherlock – who is, after all, only sixteen – is allowed. He boards with a motherly lady in Oxford who never seems to trouble if he misses meals or stays out overnight, and his brother, the scheming and manipulative Foreign Office 'fixer' Mycroft, seems to delight in landing him in dangerous situations. True, Sherlock has his good, if light-fingered, friend Matty Arnatt near at hand and ready to share his adventures, and big brother lives up to the future meaning of that name by occasionally having Sherlock followed by his agents, but nonetheless a morgue would be an unusual place for a youth of today to spend his time. Another fascinating reminder of the era is the exciting new hobby of photography. At one point Sherlock is persuaded to stand without moving for several minutes while a picture of him is produced, but as his tutor explains, he should be grateful: earlier attempts to take a photo required a full eight hours!

These stories are thoroughly engrossing, combining as they do a subtle and detailed study of the mind of this outstanding young man with a series of baroque and utterly satisfying adventures. Don't question the plausibility of the story, just sit back and enjoy!

Bookbag felt the series got off to a shaky start but the later volumes were highly readable and a lot of fun without sacrificing the bizarre, near-fantastic elements which mark the originals. Suspend your disbelief and try the fifth book, Young Sherlock Holmes: Snake Bite and the sixth, Knife Edge.

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