Young Sherlock Holmes: Black Ice, by Andrew Lane
Young Sherlock Holmes: Black Ice is the third book in Andrew Lane’s series about the formative years of the great detective and to my mind it is the best and most intriguing story in the series so far.
Black Ice begins with some classic ‘locked room mystery’ action as Sherlock Holmes and his tutor, Amyus Crowe, travel to London to visit Mycroft, Sherlock’s older brother, at his Club. Shortly after arriving at the Diogenes Club, Sherlock and Amyus hear a commotion coming from the Stranger’s Room [the one place in the Club where it is permissible to talk] and, when the door is unlocked from the inside, they discover Mycroft, knife in hand and puzzled expression on face, standing over a dead body. While the police may believe it to be an open and shut case, Sherlock is far from convinced and so, aided by Amyus, he sets out to clear his brother’s name.
Of course, the mysteries that Sherlock Holmes becomes embroiled in are never straightforward and in Black Ice young Sherlock must face danger both on and under the streets of London, suss out which of the various shady characters can be trusted, and piece together political intrigue that necessitates a hazardous journey to Russia, all the while avoiding dive-bombings for murderous falcons.
In Black Ice we really see the character of young Sherlock be shaped into that of the famous detective as he struggles to banish emotions and really solely on logic [there’s always been something of the Vulcan about Sherlock Holmes]. His detective skills and deductive reasoning are really shaping up too, which is just as well since there is less of a guiding role for Amyus Crowe in this book.
With Amyus playing less of a part in the adventure, in Black Ice we get to learn more about both Mycroft Holmes and Rufus Stone. Mycroft emerges as a particularly fabulous though unlikely hero and all round good egg – I’m hoping my membership of the Diogenes Club comes through any day now. Another consequence of the action in Black Ice taking place predominantly in London and Russia is that there are only really cameo appearances from Matty Arnatt and Virginia Crowe, but at least Mrs Eglantine manages to squeeze in a nice bit of menace at the beginning of the book.
Young Sherlock Holmes: Black Ice is a sophisticated and exciting tale of mystery and suspense that features plenty of action, adventure and derring-do. I absolutely raced through the book and unfortunately now have to wait until October for the next book in the series, Young Sherlock Holmes: Fire Storm, to be released.