Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Sherlock, Lupin and Me: The Dark Lady

Sherlock, Lupin and Me: The Dark Lady

Alessandro Gatti
Illustrator:  Iacopo Bruno 
Fiction
For ages 9 to 12
Capstone Young Readers, 2014   ISBN: 978-1623700409

It is summer and Irene Adler is delighted when her father decides that Irene and her mother should spend the summer months at the seaside resort of Saint-Malo. After an uncomfortable six-hour carriage ride from Paris, Irene is eager to explore her new surroundings. Though her mother expects her to help with the unpacking, Irene manages to slip away from her summer home and finds herself near the walls of the town, which is where she meets a tall thin boy who is reading a book. Though he is initially rather rude, the boy, Sherlock, intrigues Irene, and she makes an effort to get to know him. It is soon clear that he is rather unusual, and though he is socially awkward, he is interesting.

   When Mr. Nelson, the Adler butler, appears on the scene, Sherlock agrees to help Irene “escape” and invites her to meet his friend, Lupin. Not wanting to have to go home to help with the unpacking, Irene happily agrees. Soon she, Sherlock, and Lupin are in a little row boat in the harbor and they are heading for an old deserted mansion called Ashcroft manor, where they have a grand time getting to know one another.

   Irene has such a wonderful time that she does not care when she is punished that evening, and she doesn’t think twice about joining her two new friends the next morning. They go back to Ashcroft Manor and spend the day there. As they walk home they look down at the beach and see that the body on a person is lying on the sand. Sherlock goes to examine the man and determines that he is dead. The dead man has no form of identification on his person, though Sherlock does find a piece of paper in one of the man’s pockets. The words “The sea will wash away my guilt” are written on the piece of paper, which suggests that the man took his own life. Just then Irene notices that a hooded figure is watching them, and the three young people decide that they had better get away as quickly as possible.

   The next morning everyone in Saint-Malo is talking about the “castaway” that was found on the beach. No one seems to know who he is, and the three young people start speculating about him. Did he die of natural causes, did he commit suicide, or was he murdered? Who was he? Without really planning out what they are going to do, Irene, Sherlock, and Lupin start trying to find out who the man was and why he ended up dead on the beach in Saint-Malo. After a valuable diamond necklace is stolen from the home of Lady Martigny, even more rumors fly around town. Was the Rooftop Thief responsible and was the theft somehow connected to the dead man? Irene and her new friends cannot resist trying to find the answers to these questions.

   In this fascinating book readers who enjoy mysteries will meet a young Sherlock Holmes, his one true love Irene Adler, and Arsene Lupin, who later in life becomes a famous “gentleman thief.” It is interesting to see how their first adventure together sets the stage for the lives that they will have as adults. What makes this book special is that it captures the essence of the late 1800’s, when the story is set, taking readers into the past and giving them a memorable reading experience.

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