Two children, two very different mysteries unfold in this latest Sherlock Homes mystery from Bonnie Macbird.
It might be Christmas time in London, but the work continues for Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson as they take on two cases to solve. The first, a young child is nearly kidnapped from a wealthy couple, while an aristocrat is worried about his son who has disappeared mysteriously – will they all have a happy Christmas?
Written with great spirit and pace, Bonnie MacBird’s latest Sherlock Holmes adventure is very engaging throughout and you are immediately whisked away into the world that she has created. But it also has quite a Dickensian feel about it in the way in which she describes the work houses, prisons and orphanages that are important locations in uncovering the truth of what has happened.
It would be fair to say that one case is almost tied up too neatly and quickly to make you wonder if there was any true reason to include it and put more focus on the other one that certainly has more detail and attention paid to it. But it also has to be said that I do enjoy the way in which the author manages to tie in contemporary ideas (without giving away any spoilers) as well as the way in which the plot twists and turns to a satisfying conclusion.
Meanwhile, the inclusion of the pen and ink illustrations drawn by Frank Cho is a lovely addition and really draws the reader further into Victorian London. All of the illustrations are included at exactly the right moments in the story, highlighting key aspects (including the more grim moments)of the story well.
Written from the perspective of Dr Watson, the story is filled with warmth and Christmas spirit – but it also gives a different impression of Sherlock Holmes who can be seen as a bit of an abrupt and impatient character. Here, there is a sense of more compassionate and charitable side to him that is surprising. It all feels authentic and historically accurate from start to finish – I just would have loved a bit more depth and time to really sink into the story – in places it feels just a little bit brisk.
However, as a Christmas read it is still immensely enjoyable and will certainly entertain as you cosy up in front of the fire.
By Emma Clarendon
What Child is This? is available to buy now.