By Andrew Lane
It is the summer of 1868, and Sherlock Holmes is fourteen. On break from boarding school, he is staying with elderly relatives in the country and expecting a tedious vacation. Instead, he finds himself in the midst of a shocking murder mystery. Two local men have died from symptoms resembling the plague. Soon it is clear they have not died from natural causes.
Heedless of danger, Holmes throws himself into an investigation of what and who really killed them. With encouragement from his American born tutor and the help of two new friends, he uncovers a diabolical plot. So begins his first battle of wits against a brilliantly sinister villain of exquisitely malign intent.
So. Young Sherlock Holmes. Well. Ahem. Alright I’ve stalled enough. How intriguing to put the world’s most famous detective into the awkward phase of youth. I began imagining a know-it-all kid who can’t stand to be around all the boring ‘normal’ people who are so blind to the details of life. I had a pretty clear picture (but was staying open-minded) of what I thought needed to happen. I was expecting a very independent kid who couldn’t stand to let a murder go unsolved simply because he knew that everyone was missing the important clues. Andrew Lane’s Death Cloud introduces us to a 14-year-old Sherlock Holmes, just getting ready for the summer holidays. A loner, but not okay with this, Sherlock is dismayed to realize he isn’t going home when Mycroft appears. It’s evident from the get-go that Sherlock has a hero-worship thing going on with Mycroft (which was weird). Sherlock’s personality is that of a kid who is uncertain and emotional, and far too normal. We are also introduced to Sherlock’s tutor who it is obvious is to be his detecting mentor (which I was also disappointed at. Sherlock Holmes doesn’t seem the type to have needed or wanted anyone telling him the way to do things.) The only reason why I was able to enjoy this book was the fact that I kept forgetting that this kid was supposed to be the Sherlock Holmes. It was decent for a young adult murder mystery. I’m not sold on it at all though. I saw the huge potential for the idea of a young Sherlock, but the choices Lane made seemed more geared toward the genre than the character.