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Death Cloud: 03/30/16

Death Cloud by Andrew Lane

Death Cloud by Andrew Lane is the start of another Sherlock Holmes series. These series fall into one of four categories: young Sherlock, old Sherlock, gay Sherlock, relative of Sherlock. This one is of the young Sherlocks.

Young master Sherlock is expecting to spend his holiday time with his father and his older brother, Mycroft. Instead, he's unceremoniously sent to a distant relative out in the middle of nowhere. The house is run by an overly stern housekeeper and a rather absentee uncle.

To avoid death by boredom Sherlock begins exploring the neighboring village. There he becomes aware of a mysterious series of deaths involving a black cloud and the appearance of welts that people are assuming is the plague.

Now one the things these young Sherlock books do is try to explain how exactly adult Sherlock, the one first introduced to us by Dr. Watson in A Study in Scarlet amassed his amazing skills of observation, his encyclopedic knowledge of mud, tobacco, and beekeeping, and his ability to navigate the London of the lower class while being a man of means.

In this version the answer is his tutor, hired by Mycroft. His unorthodox approaches to things are in part because he's from the American territories. There are other reasons too, of course. That's how it is when Mycroft is involved.

Besides the tutor, Sherlock meets his first irregular. Of course it's rather silly calling a kid who is probably older than he is at this point, an irregular, but he fills the role. He lives by himself on a barge he has "liberated." When a town gets tired of him, he moves on to the next one by following the river.

So then there's the mystery of the deaths. It's not that hard to solve and certainly would be a cake walk for adult Sherlock. Here, though, he needs help. It's not that he's stupid; he's just young and he doesn't have the access to information like he does as an adult. He needs help and he needs sympathetic adults willing to help him answer his questions and encourage him to take risks. He has that now through both his tutor and his barge living friend.

Four stars

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