Young Sherlock Holmes: Snake Bite by Andrew Lane

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Young Sherlock Holmes: Snake Bite by Andrew Lane

Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Linda Lawlor
Reviewed by Linda Lawlor
Summary: Sherlock has been kidnapped and finds himself on a boat bound for Shanghai, unable to contact his family and friends. When he reaches his destination he stumbles across a mystery: how did three men in different parts of the city get bitten by the same snake?
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 312 Date: September 2012
Publisher: Macmillan
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9780230758865

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It can't be easy, imagining Sherlock Holmes as a boy. So many of his most notable characteristics — for example, his capricious behaviour, his detailed knowledge of so many subjects, and his analytical, sometimes even cold approach to problems — are clearly the result of many years of experiences and studies. Any author brave enough to tackle this challenge must of necessity create a person who is as yet untested in many of the fields for which he will later become famous.

The adult Holmes is complex, secretive, independent and emotional. How did this come about? In this intriguing and increasingly enjoyable series, Andrew Lane puts his young subject through all manner of trials and tests, leading him into the path of evil gangs and plots, and providing him with mentors willing to teach him the skills he needs to survive.

In this fifth book in the series, Sherlock has been drugged and kidnapped by, he suspects, his old enemies the Paradol Chamber. Back in England, his desperately worried brother Mycroft concludes that they must have done this both to punish the boy for foiling their plans in the past and to get him out of the way while some further crime is committed. Sherlock finds himself on the Gloria Scott, en route for China, unable to explain his presence in a satisfactory manner to the ship's captain as he has no memory of recent events. Like all stowaways he is set to work to earn his food, and his willingness to do whatever task is set, plus his ability to amuse the sailors by playing the violin soon make him an accepted member of the crew. Instead of panicking about his situation, Sherlock shows clear signs of the logical, cool-headed man he is to become by deciding his best plan is to simply stay on the ship all the way to Shanghai then work his passage back to England.

This is the 1860s of course, so Sherlock cannot demand that someone phone Mycroft to come and rescue him. In the real world the first transatlantic telegraph cable had only just been completed between the USA and Britain, and even if it had stretched as far as the Orient, it would never have been used for something as minor as the disappearance of one young boy. Indeed Mycroft himself, for all his contacts, can do little to help his little brother except send letters by every ship heading in the same direction, and hope one of them reaches him. When one does, in the very last pages of the book, it will bring bad news.

Sherlock is an intelligent boy with boundless curiosity, and he takes advantage of his time on the ship to learn the form of unarmed combat called T'ai chi ch'uan from the ship's cook, and to practise speaking Cantonese. These two skills will prove to be invaluable when he eventually finds himself in Shanghai, and deep in a mystery. And just to ensure he never gets a moment to relax, his many adventures at sea and on land also involve storms, pirates, an American warship and the occasional deadly poison. It's fast, it's colourful, it's exciting, and it's well worth reading.

This book is the fifth book in the series, and despite a rather shaky start they are proving themselves to be swashbuckling adventures with plenty of local colour, plus Sherlock's trademark gift for analysis. Bookbag especially enjoyed Young Sherlock Holmes: Fire Storm.

Buy Young Sherlock Holmes: Snake Bite by Andrew Lane at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Young Sherlock Holmes: Snake Bite by Andrew Lane at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Young Sherlock Holmes: Snake Bite by Andrew Lane at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Young Sherlock Holmes: Snake Bite by Andrew Lane at Amazon.com.


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