This is the fifth book from Dr. Who and Torchwood writer Andrew Lane in his brilliant Young Sherlock Holmes series. In this latest adventure Holmes has been sent aboard the Gloria Scott on his way to Shanghai after being stowed unconscious aboard the boat by The Paradol Chamber as punishment for foiling their plans in Fire Storm.
On the boat, Young Holmes makes a friend in cook Wu who teaches him Tai-Chi which provides another opportunity for Lane to expertly weave Holmes’s backstory into his current series. In previous books Lane has told us how Holmes learned the violin, boxing and found his love for logic and deduction. Here the teenage Holmes has to put his newfound skills in Mandarin and Tai-Chi to good use to foil a plot to blow up a US warship and avoid a war between China and America. All hidden behind some mysterious deaths caused by a strange snake bite.
Unlike the previous books there is no Virginia, Matty, Crowe or Mycroft to help Holmes and his stubbornness starts to come through. As does the journey towards his mistrust of the fairer sex.
This has to be one of the most enjoyable and easy to digest Holmes pastiches on the market right now. Lane has created a mini-canon of his own and this series is a perfect introduction to the character of Holmes for teenage readers especially.
James A. Stewart