Even though fourteen-year-old Enola Holmes has grown up in Victorian England, where submission to the male patriachy and painful whalebone corsets are the norm, she is not your typical Victorian shrinking violet. For one thing, her older brother is the famed sleuth Sherlock Holmes, and Enola is determined to follow in his footsteps, even if she has to run away from home to do it! Using secret funds left to her by her eccentric mother, Enola starts her own detective agency in London, which she operates using a combination of subterfuge, a variety of disguises, and her own good common sense. Her first official case comes courtesy of a grieving upper-class mother, who’s well-heeled daughter seems to have run away with a scheming merchant’s son. But nothing is quite what it seems to be, and soon Enola is knee-deep in a conspiracy that includes brainwashing, kidnapping, and a garrote-(a nasty weapon made of wire and wood, used to strangle unsuspecting victims from behind) wielding villain who makes Jack the Ripper seem like a pussycat! She’s also busy staying one step ahead of her relentless brother, who won’t be happy until Enola has been found and safely ensconced in a respectable, if incredibly tedious, boarding school. This second volume in the highly entertaining Enola Holmes series is one of the best mysteries I’ve read in a good long while. Enola is plucky and smart, and though she sometimes seems like a twenty-first century girl tooling around in a nineteenth century world, her ocassional bouts of insecurity keep her all-too real. Don’t be fooled by the small format and somewhat young cover–this is one read that is grittier than it looks. If you end up loving Enola as much as I do, make sure you investigate her first adventure, The Case of the Missing Marquess.
The Case of the Left-Handed Lady: an Enola Holmes Mystery by Nancy Springer