Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Death Cloud

Death Cloud

Andrew Lane
Fiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
Farrar, Straus and Giroux , 2011   ISBN: 978-0374387679

As he waits to be picked up from his boarding school, Sherlock Holmes thinks about how much he is looking forward to spending a restful summer vacation at his family home. He is therefore very upset when his brother Mycroft arrives to tell him that Sherlock cannot go home this summer because their father is going to India, and their mother is too frail to keep track of an active fourteen-year-old boy.

The plan is that Sherlock will go to spend the summer with his uncle and aunt in Farnham. Sherlock does not know these relatives, and he is not at all happy that he is going to have to spend many weeks in their company, but he has no choice but to make the best of a bad situation.

Sherlock is not in residence at Holmes Manor long before he makes friend with an orphan boy called Matthew Arnatt (Mattie), who tells Sherlock about a strange cloud that he saw leaving the home of a man who was later found dead. Sherlock has no idea what the cloud could be, but this does not stop him from trying to find out more about it.

Soon after meeting Mattie, Sherlock and his new American tutor, Amyus Crowe, find another body in the woods. It would appear that this man died in the same manner as the first. At first, Sherlock and his allies think that the men died of some kind of plague, but then, after some investigation, they determine that the men were attacked by bees. Someone is using a particularly aggressive species of bee to commit murder. Why would anyone do such a thing, and how are the bees connected to the mysterious and secretive Baron Maupertuis?

In this superbly written first young Sherlock Holmes title, readers are taken on an extraordinary adventure from the English countryside, to London, and then to France. Sherlock comes face to face with members of the criminal classes who are willing to do just about anything to stop him from interfering in their plans. Perfectly paced and with liberal doses of tension and suspense, this book is a must for readers who like historical adventures.