Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Death in the Air: The Boy Sherlock Holmes, His 2nd Case

Death in the Air: The Boy Sherlock Holmes, His 2nd Case

Shane Peacock
Fiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
Tundra Books, 2008   ISBN: 978-0887768514

Six weeks ago young Sherlock Holmes found out who the Whitchapel murderer was and he gave the evidence that he had to the police, who then arrested the man. In a small way Sherlock was able to avenge his mother’s death, but the guilt is still there. If he hadn’t been chasing the murderer in the first place, the man would not have targeted Sherlock’s mother. For her sake and his own Sherlock wants to learn, to study, to go to university, and to become a man who catches criminals. He wants to make something of himself.

   Now though, in July of 1867, he is at the Crystal Palace waiting to watch the performance of Monsieur Mercure, the trapeze artist who has dazzled hundreds with his performances. Monsieur Mercure, or Le Coq, begins his performance gracefully flying through the air. Then, without warning, he plummets to the floor of the Palace and lands right in front of Sherlock. Though he fell a long way, Le Coq is still alive. He says “Silence…me” and then says no more. The bar he was using is lying nearby and Sherlock sees that there are marks on the wooden bar. Someone sabotaged Le Coq’s equipment so that he would fall.

   Sherlock becomes determined to find out what happened to Le Coq. He starts asking his employer, a very brilliant man who owns and runs an apothecary shop, questions about head injuries. He even goes to talk Malefactor, a young man who has a gang of boys who commit crimes around the city. Malefactor and Sherlock don’t like or trust one another, but the young crime boss knows things; he has information that Sherlock wants.

   After talking to Le Coq’s partners and others who are in the performance business, Sherlock starts to suspect The Swallow, Le Coq’s trapeze heir. The Swallow certainly has a motive, but then the young man not only saves Sherlock but he also lies for him. The Swallow could not have killed his master, but if he didn’t who did?

   Then Sherlock finds out that the vault at the Crystal Palace was robbed, on the same day as the accident, and that criminal elements from Brixton, possibly even members of the infamous Brixton Gang, were there on that day. Somehow the fall from the trapeze and the robbery are connected, Sherlock is sure of it. He just doesn’t know how. Yet.

   This second case of the boy Sherlock Holmes is just as exciting as the first one was. It is fascinating to see how Sherlock tries to figure out what happened in the Crystal Palace. He starts to use methods that we later see the adult Sherlock using in the cases that he takes on in Arthur Conan Doyle’s books. We start to find out how Sherlock learned so much about deductive reasoning, and why he chose the path that would one day lead to him becoming a famous detective.