I’m not the biggest Sherlock Holmes fan in the world, so I can’t precisely judge how Adventure of the Murdered Midwife fits with other works. Even so, I know that any author who dares to use Conan-Doyles’ famed detective must tread lightly. It’s too easy to go astray. Make him too modern and lose authenticity. Keep him too faithful to the original and be, well, completely unoriginal oneself.
But Liese Sherwood-Fabre knows how to walk that tightrope. (I keep wanting to spell her last name SherLOCK-Fabre!) Here, she imagines Sherlock as a young adolescent, not yet fully aware of his own potential. As she does so, she creates a winning, fascinating character who won my respect and sympathy.
Even at 13, Sherlock possesses an analytic mind and a keen eye for details that most people overlook. He’s a detective, even at that young age, and his mother recognizes that he has the ability to snoop around without raising suspicions.
Yet he’s also 13, that awkward age when one is part child and part hormonal teen. When he arrives home from Eton, he often seems lonely when he’s with his seemingly-distant father and intelligent brother. Throw in his first crush on a girl and a prank from Mycroft about human reproduction, and Sherlock begins an awkward sexual awakening that feels innocent and realistic. Throughout the novel, he begins to see the differences in societal gender roles, and his own privilege as a male.
I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the dynamics of the Holmes family. Sherlock’s relationship with his mother feels genuine; Violette Holmes won my sympathy almost immediately. Mycroft is Mycroft: cunning, intelligent, and ambitious. Sherlock’s eccentric uncle Ernest, who suffers from PTSD, lives on the Holmes property. He’s his nephew’s ally . . . when he isn’t busy refining a new weapon he swears the army can use.
Sherwood-Fabre does an excellent job developing the relationships between these complicated and oh-so-real characters. There is love here, but that love is threatened, not only by the accusations of murder and real possibility of execution, but by each person’s secrets.
The central mystery of the book doesn’t feel as compelling as it could. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s because Sherlock doesn’t really know the murdered midwife. His real desire is to clear the Holmes name by finding the real murderer. It is a legitimate motive, but I never felt any urgency about it. Also, the killer’s motive fell flat for me, despite the author’s best efforts to make it compelling. That was a bit disappointing.
The climatic showdown between the killer and the future detective was exciting, though. It was fun to see how young Sherlock outwits the killer.
However, the writing quality is outstanding. Sherwood-Fabre knows how to create vivid scenes. They feel pitch-perfect in the historical details but simultaneously feeling modern.
Overall, this is a solid work to add to the canon of Sherlock Holmes fiction. I recommend it to any Sherlock fans, as well as historical mystery readers.
4 1/2 stars, rounded up to 5.
Thanks to Little Elm Press and Netgalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Note: This will appear on my blog on June 29, 2020
The Adventure of the Murdered Midwife is narrated in the first person by a young teenager we know as Sherlock Holmes. If an author takes another author's beloved character to make a spin-off, is that considered a ding in creativity? The jury is still out, in my opinion. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it just doesn't.
In the case of this book, the story starts with Sherlock, a young teenager, studying at the prestigious Eton College when he learns that his mother has been accused of murdering the village midwife. Holmes and his brother Mycroft return home, and it's now up to young Holmes, to help prove his mother's innocence.
Some things worked well in this book. Sherwood-Fabre captured the beautiful, witty essence of Sherlock Holmes and his complicated relationship with his brother Mycroft. Fans of Conan Doyle's books will quickly recognize Holmes's sharp, logical mind even at a young age. The mystery, however, left much to be desired. The story starts strong, and somehow the mystery becomes too predictable, and the ending fails to yield the sort of excitement you get with Doyle's books.
I still recommend this book for both fans of Sherlock Holmes and fans of this genre. This book is volume one in a series, so there is hope that the stories will develop more with future books
The Adventure of the Murdered Midwife is scheduled to be published on June 30th, 2020. I want to thank BooksGoSocial and NetGalley for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Fabre’s book is a fantastic addition to the crime fiction that reimagines the life of Sherlock Holmes. In this case Fabre offers a compelling story about Holmes as a young man who is faced with murder and crime within the space of his home and family. The writing is crisp and evocative and expands the world of Sherlock Holmes in a manner befitting Doyle’s original literary output.
Wasn't sure I l would like this book, but it was pretty good. Imaginative and got to actually see a younger Sherlock Holmes.
This was very well done. I enjoyed the dynamic between Sherlock and his mother, and the way his mother worked with and against the mores of her time to serve the women in her community. Would love to have more books focused on her! Would have loved more character development with Sherlock's father and brother. Overall a very solid re-casting of the Holmes crew, with several fresh and interesting dynamics. Can't wait to read more from this author. 4 stars on goodreads.
There are certain fictional characters who capture readers’ imaginations and hearts to such an extent that they long outlive their creator and original format. This is certainly true of Sherlock Holmes who has inspired countless adaptations and revamps. It seems that we just can’t get enough of The World’s Greatest Detective and are happy for new authors to bring fresh twists to the tales.
In this new series Liese Sherwood-Fabre takes us back to Sherlock’s formative years. Sherry (as he is affectionately called by his family) has recently started attending Eton where he has failed to fit in or settle down successfully. As much as he doesn’t really want to be there he is distressed to receive a sudden summons to return home; something sinister has happened but no one will explain. He fears that his mother is gravely ill and is sick with worry until he can pry the real story out of his older brother Mycroft. Their mother is healthy - but sitting in jail accused of a terrible crime. This is how Sherlock is drawn into his very first murder case; with help from the whole formidable Holmes clan and a light-fingered accomplice.
This book is really well-written and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s light and engaging, the perfect read during lockdown. The mystery was clever and I really liked the interaction between the different members of the family, Holmes’ fans have met Mycroft before but it was nice to be properly introduced to his parents and uncle Ernest. Constance is an appealing character too, I hope that she will return for future adventures.
Thank you to NetGalley and to the publishers for a copy of this book in return for an honest review.
First time I've read this author and I really enjoyed this book. I will be looking forward to finding the others in this series. I like the young Sherlock and his mother. I was able to figure out who did it, just not why.
Thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley for my eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Young Sherlock Holmes known to his family as Sherry, gets his start as a detective. Readers that have any read any of the Sherlock Holmes series of books, will get insight into his family and into Sherlock, right down to the deerstalker hat. This was a wonderful and charming book. The author knows how to handle a beloved and well well known character and leave the readers wanting more of young Sherlock. I am looking forward to the next book and learning more of Sherry's early life.
How the author is linking anything we know about Sherlock Holmes ( even if we're not experts on the matter) to a pure logical detective story in his childhood is truly amazing. The more you read the book, the more you get involved in the chase.
Young Sherlock gets older in the process of fighting for the truth. the descriptions of action and locations are vivid and never boring. the dialogues are just the perfect length and so natural that you wonder if in fact they are not recorded. This story is an original, precise and wonderfully crafted piece of literature.
I can't wait to read the other books and will encourage anyone to read the adventures of young Sherlock.
I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review. all opinions are mine.
Very clever book. I loved the young Sherlock, learnig his craft from his brilliant mother.
The midwife has been murdered and all signs point to Mrs Holmes, in steps Sherlock (Sherrie) to try to save his mother form the gallows.
Disclosure: I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.
This book was brilliant. So well written. In short, Sherlock Holmes is 13, and is summoned home from Eaton (where he wasn't having much fun anyway). Mycroft has likewise been summoned home from Oxford. Mother has been accused of murder, and is in gaol. She knows that her sons can help save her.
We see the beginnings of the steel-trap mind that becomes the hallmark of Sherlock Holmes stories (both Conan Doyle and more recent authors). At 13, Sherlock's orderly and logical mind is still forming, but unlike the Flavia de Luce stories, he is less likely to fall into entirely adolescent behaviors. It's like seeing a tableau in miniature....it's all there, just smaller.
This book kept my attention from the first pages. I enjoyed the way the author took us into the society of the time while spinning the story; the relationships between husband and wife, the place of women in society...and of course, the lack of good scientific detective skills among the constabulary.
Even though Sherlock is 13, this is not a children's story. Rather, it's a grown-up well written mystery with a known character and a great cast of characters that is stimulating and riveting. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will definitely be seeking out more in the series.
I rarely give 5 star reviews, so you can be sure that if you pick this book up, you may not put it down until you have finished in one go. It's that good.
Usually, I’m not a big fan of writers that use other author’s characters for their own stories but Sherlock Holmes is such an archetype in the English literature that many writers have had a go at putting their own stamp on the brand (with various degrees of success) let alone the multitude of movies and TV-series. I must say that this is one of the better attempts. The novelty here is that we meet an adolescent Sherlock who doesn’t have all his adult quirks but whose intellect should certainly not be underestimated. Some of his later characteristics shine through already as his dislike for social chitchat that he calls tedious and unproductive. And of course, his dear deerstalker cap makes his appearance as well, or is it the first of many caps?
This story takes place not long after 1865, as the end of the American civil war is mentioned as a recent event.
Sherlock Holmes has been only a few weeks at school in Eton when he’s called back home. On the train home, he meets his older brother Mycroft who’s also travelling home from Oxford. He tells him that their mother is in jail and accused of murdering their local midwife. She did find the body and had an argument with the woman a day earlier but maintains her innocence. It’s the victim’s husband who accuses her of this crime and the constable had no other choice but lock her up. His father, being a justice of the peace is temporarily suspended but can’t be involved with her defence as the slightest contact may be seen as interference.
Now the police have a suspect in custody, the family fears that they won’t put much effort in looking for the real killer. There’s no obvious motive as to why the mother would kill the midwife other than a dispute about herbal cures and remedies. Lady Holmes was locally known as a herb-wise woman who could provide teas and mixtures for various ailments or even to prevent pregnancies (a grave sin and crime in the eyes of moralists and religious zealots, almost as evil as providing abortions).
Her brother, uncle Ernest will act as his mother’s solicitor. She asks Sherlock to help her prove her innocence as she thinks that Mycroft her older son doesn’t have the character to go out of his way to collect all the necessary evidence or carry out a proper investigation. Nevertheless, he still is an asset by processing the information. Sherlock is about 13 at this moment so the situation is a bit unlikely but hell, this is fiction about fictious characters.
Ernest proves in a spectacular way that Mrs Brown was not stabbed to death with a pitchfork as was the accusation. The reluctant constable has to release Mrs Holmes but is fuming about being humiliated in court and vouches to have her back in gaol. The family name is still blemished and the smudge will remain in place until the real killer is apprehended. Every member of the family is helping to solve the case.
This is a very enjoyable light-hearted read about a familiar character in a slightly different role But it is very suspenseful with several deaths that can be natural but just as easily be murder. They must first establish who was killed, then how and why. The tension is kept up throughout the book. Every time you think aha, there’s another complication. The story is also quite funny at times when you encounter things that do reappear in the original stories.
At certain moments it is very clear that Sherlock is still a teenager i.e. when he gets hot and bothered from the illustrations of human reproductive organs in a medical study book. It makes him more human and cuter than in the original adult stories. I absolutely love the interaction between him and Constance. His first crush on a girl is simply delightful
Also beautiful is the obvious love for his mother, still more that of a younger boy than of an adult. He also becomes aware of the different levels and interactions in an adult relationship by observing his parents.
Uncle Ernest is another favourite of mine, he’s a bit of a mad scientist/inventor and a most adorable character.
Apart from the pleasant writing style, an engaging, sympathetic cast, suspense with a touch of first romance this is also a solid, well-constructed murder mystery. If there are more volumes in this series, I surely will read them.
I thank Netgalley for the free copy of this book and this is my honest, unbiased review
Loved this book and cant wait for the next in the series. Love sherlock Holmes loved that I was lucky to read the book early
I loved this book!
Liese Sherwood-Fabre has given us an origin story for Sherlock Holmes – or “Sherry,” as his mother calls him. And what a great story she tells. Sherlock is summoned home from his miserable first year at Eton because his mother has been accused of murdering the village midwife. His mother turns to teenage Sherlock for help in freeing her from gaol. She knows that Mycroft, though brilliant, is too theoretical.
As Sherlock collects evidence and interviews witnesses, we see him develop his deductive reasoning. The motifs of the soon-to-be-great detective come into focus. There’s the explanation for the magnifying glass. There’s the deerstalker cap. There’s the poignant backstory for the violin. There’s the grisly and dramatic inquest, in which someone else – of course – takes the credit for Sherlock’s ingenuity. In very exciting scenes, there are the bees.
Making this even richer are the relationships within the Holmes family, the delicately described social and physical environment, and Sherlock’s first love interest, Constance, a resourceful and admirable village girl and pickpocket. Young Sherlock seems like a real teenager – intelligent, awkward, worried, unsure, sensitive, and brave.
I am looking forward to the next book!
Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Enjoyed this book, was very creative how the young Sherlock's early life was depicted to fit some of the trait his later personality. The mystery, whilst very entertaining was a little predictable, but the adventures getting to the end were rather exciting. Good depiction of the era also
All in all the good book which I could not put down.