Young Sherlock Holmes: Snake Bite
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
In this, the fifth installment of Andrew Lane's popular series, the young Sherlock Holmes embarks on a sea voyage to China. In spite of being put on the ship against his will by the sinister Paradol Chamber, Sherlock soon adjusts to life onboard, and is gradually accepted by the crew of the Gloria Scott, spending the long voyage learning seafaring skills, as well as Cantonese and martial arts, and helping to defend the ship from Chinese pirates.
Nonetheless, Sherlock is relieved when the ship finally reaches China, and he knows he will soon be on his way back to England. Spending a few days in Shanghai waiting for the ship to set sail on its home voyage, he quickly makes a new friend - Cameron, the son of an American shipping agent - but almost as quickly finds himself plunged into a puzzling mystery. Was Wu Chang bitten by a poisononous snake - or was he the victim of a clever murder? What is the meaning of the mysterious spider-web diagrams on the secret papers in Cameron's father's study - and why is he behaving so oddly? Who is Arrhenius, the strange passenger aboard the Gloria Scott? And what does all this have to do with a plot to blow up an American warship? Sherlock puts his powers of deduction - not to mention his newly-acquired martial arts skills - to the test in this engaging adventure.
Andrew Lane does a great job of maintaining the atmopshere of Conan Doyle's original stories in this lively series. Without the frame of Dr Watson's narrative, readers are given a more immediate and intimate insight into the life and emotions of the young hero, who here appears to be a rather more warm-hearted and human character than in his adult incarnation. Yet Lane always has an eye to his hero's future development, planting clever clues that will particularly entertain Sherlock Holmes fans. With a complex plot and plenty of action and excitement, Snake Bite is an entertaining mystery adventure: the unusual 19th century Chinese setting is particularly well-researched, and the book also includes some intriguing historical notes.