It is the summer of 1868, and Sherlock Holmes is fourteen. On break from boarding school, he is staying with eccentric strangers—his uncle and aunt—in their vast house in Hampshire. When two local people die from symptoms that resemble the plague, Holmes begins to investigate what really killed them, helped by his new tutor, an American named Amyus Crowe. So begins Sherlock’s true education in detection, as he discovers the dastardly crimes of a brilliantly sinister villain of exquisitely malign intent. (goodreads summary)
Young Sherlock Holmes is awaiting his father's arrival to take him home from the Deepdene School for Boys. He finds his older brother Mycroft in his place instructing Sherlock that he will not be returning home as planned. To his dismay he will spend the summer with unknown relatives, an Uncle and Aunt in Farnham he has never met. Upon his arrival, it is obvious he is not a welcome guest. It is up to Sherlock to try and make the best of it for the next couple of months. He meets a fourteen year old vagabond named Matthew Arnatt and the two become quick friends. Sherlock's brother also arranges for a tutor from America to keep up his education during break. Stumbling upon the mystery of two dead bodies in the first days of his arrival, this summer will definitely be one Sherlock will not soon forget.
The first story in the young Sherlock series has everything a good adventure book for young teens should be. It was filled with action, mystery, heroes and villains, problem solving and all around an enjoyable read. The characters blended well as they pieced together a puzzling mystery all lead by a very unusual suspect. Sherlock's tutor turns out to be more than just a teacher teaching math skills. Amyus Crowe is from New Mexico and has a background in tracking criminals that have escaped justice and hunts them down. He is instructing Sherlock on using logic, reasoning and deduction skills that will help aid in cracking the case of a dark cloud that was seen leaving the bodies of the two dead men. He has a feisty, independent daughter named Virginia who also plays a strong role. When Sherlock finds a yellow substance around the bodies, he takes it to a professor for identification. He puts two and two together and comes up with an answer that leads them on one adventure after another. As the story unfolds, Sherlock and Matt find themselves knowing more than they should and not to the liking of the mastermind behind the deaths. They travel to area towns and must run from henchmen on their trail finding themselves in many dangerous situations along the way. There were a few scenes depicted that involved street fighting and a stabbing in an alley. Also, when the villain and his plot were finally revealed I did find this part a bit creepy and macabre. But I liked the feel and fluency of the descriptive sentences and word choice throughout the book that made it Sherlock Holmes. The book kept going up and down with excitement holding my interest until the end. There is a second book coming in the Fall of 2011 that takes Sherlock and Matt to America and I believe a third one next. This series could probably go on forever and capture a reluctant teen reader in the process.....I think this is a "just right book" for ages 14 and up.~
Title: Death Cloud-Sherlock Holmes The Legend Begins
Author: Andrew Lane
Genre: Mystery, young adult
Pub. Date: February 2011, Farrar Straus Giroux
Hardcover, 311 pgs.