Andrew Lane is a well respected and prolific writer, best known for his work in TV and especially with Doctor Who. This is a guy who knows his way around literature, so when I saw he had created his own view on pre-ACD Sherlock Holmes, I had to read it.
In Death Cloud a teenage Sherlock Holmes is dispatched to his unknown uncle’s estate in Farnham at the end of the school term as his father is in India and Mycroft has government business to attend to.
In Farnham he meets Matty Arnatt who has witnessed a dark cloud of death kill a man and before long Sherlock sees the self same cloud and the game is afoot.
What Lane does well is to weave the little we know of Holmes’ backstory into the narrative. All along there are hints and ideas as to how Holmes became the world’s first consulting detective; for example: Amyus Crowe is introduced and teaches Holmes the value of logic; Holmes discovers his penchant for puzzles & we begin to learn just how powerful Mycroft really is.
Death Cloud is a really good introduction to Holmes for young readers (I meant to say, this is aimed at the teenage market) and rattles along at an enjoyable pace. Lane keeps some sense of Holmesian wit and propriety without resorting to introducing a replacement for Watson. I look forward to reading Red Leech next.