True to my usual always-on-the-cutting-edge form, four years after it launched, I have finally started watching Elementary. I’d been putting it off because I enjoy Sherlock so much and mistakenly assumed that there was only room for one version of Holmes and Watson in my heart at once. After watching the first five episodes in one sitting, I can admit that, yes, I was entirely, without a doubt, wrong!*
To celebrate my utter wrongness—and, yes, in this case, it really is something to celebrate—let’s take a look at some of the more recent takes on Sherlock Holmes for the YA and MG audiences. And to celebrate Lucy Liu as Jane Watson, let’s look specifically at the stories that play with gender:
A Study in Charlotte, by Brittany Cavallaro
James Watson and Charlotte Holmes, descendants of the original Holmes and Watson, are both at a boarding school in Connecticut. When a student is murdered—a student who’d clashed with both James and Charlotte—and the crime scene looks a whole lot like one of the original Holmes and Watson cases, our new duo opens an investigation…Even the authorities view them as the prime suspects.
Lock & Mori, by Heather Petty
A contemporary about Mori (the daughter of a cop), teaming up with Lock (a rich kid in her class), to solve a murder case. I’m especially curious about this one because it’s narrated by the Moriarty character, and so I’m dying to know if she’s eventually GOING TO GO BAD. (Or maybe the Sherlock character will? Thinking about the possibilities is part of the fun!)
Every Breath, by Ellie Marney
An Australian contemporary about James Mycroft and Rachel Watts, teaming up to solve the murder of a mutual friend. Also, romance!
Jewel of the Thames, by Angela Misri
The first book in a series of historicals set in the 1930s about nineteen-year-old Portia Adams, who inherits 221B Baker Street under mysterious circumstances. (The mysterious circumstances being that she doesn’t really know why it was left to her.) Canadian import!
The following three titles are more tangentially related, but I’m including them nonetheless:
Tru and Nelle, by Greg Neri
Harper Lee and Truman Capote, as children, have adventures and tell stories and—due to their mutual love of Sherlock Holmes—investigate mysteries. This one looks adorable, and Kirkus gave it a star.
The Mystery of Hollow Places, Rebecca Podos
Another Kirkus star! A girl puts the skills and know-how she’s gained from years of reading mysteries—including, of course, the works of Arthur Conan Doyle—into action to find her missing father.
Murder is Bad Manners, by Robin Stevens
Yet another star! Middle-grade historical set at an English boarding school in 1934, starring eighth graders Hazel Wong and Daisy Wells, founders of the Wells & Wong Detective Society. This one I’ve read, and it’s great fun—I just checked the author’s website, and there are FOUR available in England, while only two have made their way over here. Do me a favor and read them so they get more traction here, because I want MORE without having to do the import thing! (Something else I noticed at the author’s website: the publisher changed the title for the American edition—Murder is Bad Manners was originally called Murder Most Unladylike, which I think is SO much more fun. Sadness.)
As always, other recommendations are always welcome! And if you want more Holmesian fun, here are two other related books I’ve covered here: Colleen Gleason’s The Clockwork Scarab, and William Ritter’s Jackaby.
*And after watching those five episodes, here’s my take, comparison-wise: Sherlock is undoubtedly a more stylish show, but in just a few episodes, Jonny Lee Miller’s Holmes on Elementary has become a much more three-dimensional character than Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch has ever been. In that way, the Cumberbatch version is truer to the source material, maybe—and again, the visuals are pure joy—but so far, the richer characterization makes Elementary way more emotionally engaging.
In addition to running a library in rural Maine, Leila Roy blogs at Bookshelves of Doom, is currently serving on the Amelia Bloomer Project committee, is a contributor at Book Riot, hangs out on Twitter a lot—possibly too much—and watches a shocking amount of television. Her cat is a murderer.