Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Secret Fiend by Shane Peacock YP FIC PEACOCK

It is 1868 and Benjamin Disraeli has become the first Jewish Prime Minister of England. Some fear this is a dangerous change that could imperil England, but this fear is soon replaced by terror of a myth come to bloody life. Spring Heel Jack, a purely fictional fiend has leaped into reality attacking two girls, friends of the now age 14 Sherlock Holmes. Beatrice a poor and beautiful admirer of Holmes claims that Jack appeared from the sky stealing away her friend. Holmes is convinced that she has made the story up for attention, but when another family is attacked he is on the case, while avoiding his enemy, the teenage criminal named only Malefactor.

This is the latest and also greatest of Peacock’s excellent Boy Sherlock Holmes series. I reviewed his last book The Vanishing Girl here, and liked it a great deal, the series has an excellent understanding of the Holmes character and does a brilliant job of imagining him as a young person. This volume gets more into the background of Malefactor and makes clearer how he is becoming the man who will be Holmes’ most dangerous nemesis. Peacock does a good job of recreating Victorian England and its class struggles. He has a real knack for writing believable squalor and criminals. All of these were true of Peacock’s previous entries as well, but what makes The Secret Fiend his best so far is how he is able to go deeper into Sherlock’s life than ever before and how well the relationships between Sherlock and his friends and enemies has built. I recommend reading the previous volumes before this book, but you won’t be lost if you just jump into this latest adventure. I’d recommend this to any fan of historical mysteries, especially of Sherlock Holmes. If you enjoy the series, check out the Mary Quinn Mystery series (YP FIC LEE) as well.

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