This has been on my to read list for a while, so I decided to tackle it next in the 48 Hour Book Challenge: The Case of the Missing Marquess: An Enola Holmes Mystery, by Nancy Springer. This is a quick read, but I would still place it at a slightly older age range than my previous two reviews of the day (12 Again and The Four-Story Mistake). There are detailed descriptions of the slums of 1888 London (complete with painted woman and beggars crawling in the street) that might be a bit much for younger kids.
The Case of the Missing Marquess is the story of Enola Holmes, the much younger sister of Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes. Enola lives with her mother on the family estate, Ferndell Hall, until her mother disappears on Enola's 14th birthday. After seeing her illustrious brothers for the first time in 10 years, and after performing her own investigation at home, Enola sets off to track down her mother. On her way, she proves herself a worthy successor to the famous detective, with her own, unique talents.
Without giving too much away, let's say that Enola turns the frustrating trappings of womanhood (skirts and bustles and corsets) to her advantage, in a very clever way. She makes deductions based on her own experiences, and solves a case that has more experienced minds stymied. She also possesses a flair for drawing that comes in handy for a fledgling detective. I think that she might be a cool girl, actually. She's brave and smart, and doesn't depend on anyone else for help. She's a bit of a tomboy, but I think that's almost a required attribute for admirable nineteenth century girls. I'll look forward to seeing how Enola (which spells Alone, backwards) progresses in future books. Overall, The Case of the Missing Marquess is a quick but atmospheric read, with a protagonist strong enough to carry a longer-running series. I think that kids (boys and girls) will enjoy the ciphers sprinkled through the book, too.
Book: The Case of the Missing Marquess: An Enola Holmes Mystery
Author: Nancy Springer
Publisher: Sleuth Philomel
Age Range: 10-14
Time Spent: 1 hour, 35 minutes
© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.