The opening of this second adventure/mystery starring the teenage Sherlock Holmes finds two men searching for a giant red leech for their terrifying boss, Duke Balthassaar, ably and ickily introducing the sleuth's antagonist.
One afternoon, Sherlock returns to his uncle’s home to a surprise visit from brother Mycroft Holmes. Eavesdropping, he learns that John Wilkes Booth escaped death after assassinating Lincoln and is somewhere in England. Mycroft and Amyus Crowe, Sherlock's tutor, have to prevent Booth's return to the United States—a perfect adventure in the making for Sherlock and his friends Virginia Crowe and Matty Arnatt. In this story, good characters have some depth, while the evil are there to provide narrative oomph. Lane has a talent for gross and grotesque villains, and Balthassar is no exception (check out what he does with those leeches). Abductions, frantic train rides, near-death experiences and efforts of the three friends to save one another increase suspense with each chapter. A slam-bang climax and satisfying conclusion will please readers while leaving loose threads for further volumes.
This intriguing look at the times and development of a much-loved character fascinates across gender lines. (author note) (Mystery/adventure. 13-17)