They are like a magnet to me. I see the words “Sherlock Holmes” on the spine of a book, and I’m instantly doing a Gollum impression. “My preciousssss…” Okay, maybe I’m not that bad, but since finishing Doyle’s works about Holmes, I’ve been deprived of my favorite mysteries! I have so missed my favorite characters! So, when I was browsing at my local library trying to find interesting, new reading material, and I viewed those magnetic words, I grabbed the book up. I was so excited that, despite the fact that this book is meant for a slightly younger age group, I had to give it a try.
Sherlock Holmes and The Baker Street Irregulars: The Fall of the Amazing Zalindas by Tracy Mack and Michael Citrin is a Sherlock Holmes mystery using some minor characters, the Baker Street Irregulars, from the original Doyle mysteries as the main characters. The Irregulars are a group of street boys hired by Holmes to be his “eyes and ears” on the street. The mystery is told from the boys’ perspectives, as Holmes utilizes their talents to help solve an important mystery. The story starts out with the mysterious deaths of three circus performers, the Zalindas. Holmes sends the Irregulars to check out the circus and gather as much information as they can. Wiggins, the gang’s leader, discovers that Holmes is also working for the Crown and there is more to the mystery than just the Zalinda’s deaths. To add to the fun, the reader has to figure out a secret message hidden in the text. Really, who doesn’t like secret codes and messages? 😉
Overall, I really enjoyed the book. Even though it was meant for a younger audience, the book offered an opportunity to read about Sherlock Holmes from another perspective, that of the street urchins. When I started reading the book, I was afraid I was going to find the boys annoying and whiny (I can’t stand whiny characters). Thankfully, they weren’t! I thought the authors did a great job portraying Wiggins, the only boy specifically named in Doyle’s books, in a canonical way, while still adding to his character. The rest of the boys were likable, and I definitely cared what happened to them! The mystery was easy to solve, and I’m sure any Holmes fan would be able to figure out who the main bad guy was from the clues given. Since the book was meant for a younger audience, I can understand why the authors chose to create a more simplistic mystery rather than copy Doyle’s complicated plot lines. Still, the mystery wasn’t overly mysterious. I also didn’t like the fact that Holmes’s dialogue didn’t have that Holmesian flair to it and that Watson was portrayed as a grumpy idiot to an extreme that was never found in Doyle’s books. Still, it was an entertaining read that gives a younger reader a taste of Sherlock Holmes. It was also a great way for this older reader to experience the world of 221B Baker Street through other characters’ eyes.
Thanks for reading!