Young Sherlock Holmes: Red Leech

Young Sherlock Holmes Red Leech

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for its prequel, Death Cloud. You can read my review of this novel [here].

The Young Sherlock Holmes series was written by Andrew Lane and authorised by the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The novels focus on a fourteen year old Sherlock as he begins to develop the skills that will characterise him as an adult. At the time of writing, six books have been published – Death Cloud (2010), Red Leech (published as Rebel Fire in America) (2010), Black Ice (2011), Fire Storm (2011), Snake Bite (2012) and Knife Edge (2013). For the purpose of this review, I’ll be looking at Red Leech only.

Following the events of Death Cloud, Sherlock has returned to live with his Uncle in the country and has resumed his studies under the former bounty hunter, Amyus Crowe. However, before he has chance to recover from his previous adventure, he finds himself thrust into another when Mycroft arrives with alarming news. John Wilkes Booth, assassin of Abraham Lincoln, is rumoured to be alive and well and living in the neighbouring town.

Although Amyus tells Sherlock not to get involved, he and his friend Matty swiftly take off to investigate the claim. However, their search backfires when Sherlock is captured and almost shot by Booth’s cohorts. In the ensuing escape, Matty is kidnapped and taken with the Confederates as they flee back to America.

Fearing that they intend to use Booth to rally a new army and restart the Civil War, Amyus swiftly follows them and brings both Sherlock and his daughter, Virginia, with him to help with his investigation. However, their journey is wrought with danger. The Confederates know that Amyus will follow them and have taken steps to ensure that he never reaches America…

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Young Sherlock Holmes: Death Cloud

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Following the success of Charlie Higson’s Young James Bond series, the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle authorised a run of novels to introduce the adventures of Sherlock Holmes to teenage readers. This series, written by Andrew Lane, tells the story of a fourteen year old Sherlock as he begins to develop the deductive skills that will serve him well in later life. The first novel is titled Death Cloud and was published in 2010. It has been subsequently followed by Red Leech (2010 – published in America under the name Rebel Heart), Black Ice (2011), Fire Storm (2011), Snake Bite (2012) and Knife Edge (2013).

Due to his father’s military service and his mother’s illness, Sherlock Holmes is forced to spend his summer holiday staying with his eccentric uncle in the British countryside. At first, Sherlock is annoyed by this decision. The town where he has been forced to stay is boring, the house keeper seems to hate him and he wishes that he had been allowed to stay in London with his brother, Mycroft. However, everything changes when he discovers a dead body.

His uncle’s gardener is found in the forest, his body covered in horrible boils. The only clue is a plume of smoke that is seen rising from the corpse. This is the second death of this kind within a matter of days and it causes panic to spread as the townsfolk fear that the cause is the bubonic plague.

Sherlock is less convinced by this and, as he investigates, quickly becomes certain that the deaths were both murders. However, the further he digs; the more danger he places himself in. Trusting only in his friends, Matty and Virginia, and his tutor, Amyus Crowe, Sherlock rushes to get to the root of the conspiracy before his enemies succeed in silencing him forever.

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