Monday, December 31

The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer

When Enola Holmes' mother disappears, she is frantic to finder her - but her two older brothers, Mycroft and Sherlock disapprove. Convinced that their mother has run away, Enola's brothers are determined to send her off to boarding school...but she is having none of that.

Setting off to find her mother, Enola stumbles across the case of a missing boy and finds herself in more trouble than she had ever conceived. London is not the sparkling place she had imagined and there are horrid figures that crawl the streets.


Katherine Kellgren is quick becoming my favourite audio book narrator, so after reading the above review I was ecstatic to discover that she narrated the Enola Holmes Mysteries.

Enola is a compelling character, sympathetic without being petty, head-strong and intelligent. Reiterated through the story are her mother's words, "Enola, you will do very well on your own." Boy, is it true! Even Enola's name spelled backwards is "alone." She is a driven character and I was drawn to her.

I will admit that I am not overly-familiar with the original novels by Conan Doyle. I listened to A Study in Scarlet and then gave up on the second installment. Springer does make references to A Study in Scarlet (in the sense of it being a non-fiction account by Watson) but I have nothing to really compare or criticise the borrowed characters in the book. Speaking of references, I did like the one Springer made to The Importance of Being Earnest with Lane and the cucumber sandwiches.

While I am not familiar enough with the Holmes brothers to know if they were portrayed well, I can say that they appear to me to be right arses. They belittle Enola less because she is young and more-so because she is female. Sexism to the max. This is what made me like the book all the more. It hones in on the issues of sexism but also shows Enola's cleverness and gives a right "stuff you" to the notion of her inferiority.

The descriptions Springer gives of East London and even the steel corsets young women are made to wear to refine their body shape was horrific. Almost as horrid as Mycroft's attitude. (If you nap so often, you'll get diabetes, Mycroft.) There was a wonderful grit to the novel and it was riddled with plenty of dangers, mostly "unmentionable" things which made the subtext all the stronger.

I wouldn't say that the case of the missing boy was the most interesting thing in the plot but rather Enola's own journey and how she thought outside the box - even outfoxing the great Sherlock Holmes who she honestly made look a bit of a ninny. I've already purchased the second novel, 'The Case of the Left-Handed Lady' and look forward to starting it...now.
In accordance with the FTC, Quill Café would like to disclose that the reviewer purchased this book. The opinions expressed are hers alone and no monetary compensation was offered to her by the author or publisher. Cover art is copyright of Penguin and is used solely as an aide to the review.

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