No Place Like Holmes is another book I picked up at a discounted rate for Kindle ($1.99 at the time). I had read You Wish (The Misadventures of Benjamin Bartholomew Piff, #1) and was intrigued by the spiritual angle to this new story and series. Looking for some light reading recently I decided to give this a try. It turned out be a creative and well done young adult mystery adventure with a subtle spiritual element.
Here is the publishers synopsis:
The new resident in 221A Baker Street is about to give Sherlock Holmes a run for his magnifying glass!
When Griffin is sent to stay with his detective uncle at 221A Baker Street for the summer, he is certain that his uncle must be the great Sherlock Holmes! But Griffin is disappointed to discover that Holmes lives at 221B Baker Street and his uncle lives unit 221A. His uncle is a detective, just not a very good one. But when Griffin meets a woman with a case that Holmes has turned away for being too ridiculous, he and his uncle team up to help her. Along the way, Griffin shows his uncle just what it means to have true faith in God, even when the case challenges that. The woman claims that her husband was eaten by the Loch Ness Monster, but monsters aren’t real-or are they?
There are a couple of interesting hooks in this story. One is that Griffin is a precocious young man with a photographic memory and highly developed sense of deductive reasoning. Two is that his uncle not only lives next to the great detective Sherlock Holmes, but is obsessed with him; intent on proving himself the better detective. But rather than deductive reasoning, Rupert Snodgrass uses science and machines to solve his cases (or would if he had any cases).
Lastly, Griffin is the son of a Methodist minister and has an active Christian faith. This faith is an active part of the story and dialog. Griffin regularly prays and tries to act out his faith in his interactions with his uncle and other adults that he meets. All this combines to place Griffin in an exciting but dangerous situation.
The first two hooks make for a creative and entertaining story. Not surprisingly given its length and audience (Ages 9-12), it is not a particularly complex mystery, and the characters are not highly developed, but the story moves at a quick pace and the depth builds as more details are revealed. There is, however, a well developed sense that there is more to the story than the reader is aware of; that the plot is deeper and wider than it seems. And, as is usual with these type of chapter books, the complexity is sure to add up as the series continues.
The last hook, the faith element, is also well done. For those not used to mentions of God and faith in their fiction the inclusion of prayers and spiritual reflections will stand out. I didn’t find them overly preachy, however, and found it refreshing that a character’s faith would be taken seriously.
Given Griffin’s precociousness in other areas, it is not out of character that his faith seems rather mature as well. For example, he chooses to show his uncle love and to pray for him after he is treated poorly and even cruelly. And this strategy works a little too perfectly. But perhaps a story of this nature is not the place for spiritual struggles and wrestling with the nature of evil. And, as I said, for the most part I found the “God” aspects well done and refreshing.
Caveats or nitpick aside, this is a creative and entertaining young adult mystery adventure. If you have young readers looking for something different to read, or if you are looking for books that integrate faith into fiction, I recommend this first book in a new series. I think it will be one worth following.