Book Review – The Case of the Missing Marquess

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Title: The Case of the Missing Marquess
Author: Nancy Springer
Publisher: Philomel
Edition: Hardcover
Year: 2006

Meet Enola Holmes, the much younger sister of Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes. It’s pretty easy to recognize that my tastes in Holmes literature are not restricted to canon. However, the stories of Holmes’s little sister? Sounds a bit on the Mary Sue side, no?

Well, she is and she isn’t. For one, Enola is aware of her faults. She does, however, also have a very sharp mind for a fairly uneducated 14-year-old, but that would be expected of a Holmes. Her deducing skills are good, not as sharp as her brother’s, but she has a good talent of drawing in caricature. For the most part she remains a fairly entertaining narrator.

The actual “case” for which the book is titled is not what the book is about. Enola doesn’t solve it either; she stumbles into a trap and the case solves itself. Enola is on the search for her missing mother, who up and left on her 14th birthday, but left her clues as to her whereabouts. Enola does not find her mother by the end of the book and has taken up residence in London, under the nose of both her brothers.

What I really liked about the book was the view it gives of 1880s England. It was my dad who recommended the book to me as a quick read with very good visual images and descriptions. I found it especially vivid with the fashions because of how much Enola has to fight with them. It’s an unforgiving landscape of London’s slums, and a realistic Victorian atmosphere.

What I didn’t care for was the characterization of the Brothers Holmes. Sherlock improved throughout the course of the novel. Mycroft was stiff and unlikable. Both were played up as proper aristocrats which also did not suit how I view either one, not in the strictest sense, anyway. It suits Mycroft more than Sherlock, but it was a little too prim, a little too proper.

It’s been a long time since I read a true children’s book, I think this one a 4th-5th grade reader. It was enjoyable, easy, and again, as a Victorian era immersion novel, very good.

Grade: B

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