SECRET LETTERS by Leah Scheier


Age Range: 12 & up
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Sherlock Holmes' secret daughter goes on the case in this tepid Victorian whodunit.

Twelve-year-old Dora Joyce learned of her illustrious parentage the night before her mother died of the same fever that had just killed the man she thought was her father. Now 16, the girl has been reared by her aunt, who despairs of her niece's unladylike tendency to "notice things." When her married cousin finds herself being blackmailed with letters written to a now-dead lover, Dora leaps at the opportunity to meet the famous detective. Alas, she arrives just after he has been killed fighting Moriarty, but Peter, the attractive young man who delivers this news on the doorstep of 221B Baker St., is himself a detective. A bit of eavesdropping in Peter's office quickly leads to Dora's involvement in a case that places her cousin's blackmailer at the heart of another mystery, that of the disappearance of a young gentlewoman. In the guise of a servant, she infiltrates (with credibility-straining ease) the country estate where the suspect works as a valet in the hopes of cracking both cases. The danger inherent in any Holmes-derived story is that it will not measure up to its inspiration, and this is the case here. Dora and Peter's frequent attempts to out-Holmes each other grow tiresome, as do Dora's embarrassingly swoontastic thoughts about Peter. Moreover, the third-degree burns she suffers impede her only when the narrative remembers them.

Pass on this; revisit either the original or Nancy Springer's engaging tales of Sherlock’s little sister Enola. (Historical mystery. 12 & up)

Pub Date: June 26th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4231-2405-4
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Hyperion
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2012


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