________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 32 . . . . April 20, 2012


The Dragon Turn. (The Boy Sherlock Holmes; 5).

Shane Peacock.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2011.
220 pp, hardcover, $21.99.
ISBN 978-1-77049-231-8.

Grades 5-9 / Ages 10-14.

Review by David Ward.

**** /4



“There is more in this world, Master Holmes, than is dreamt of in your imagination….”

So declares Sigurson Bell, the apothecary and mentor of the boy Sherlock Holmes in Shane Peacock’s most recent Holmes mystery, The Dragon Turn. Once again Peacock has created a drama saturated in Victorian culture and with the super sleuth of all sleuths deep at its centre. At the setting, we find London caught up in the exotic mysteries of stage magic as exemplified in the abilities of magicians such as Nottingham and Hemsworth.

      In this fifth case, Holmes is becoming more and more like the adult we have come to know in the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories. The young Holmes is developing his reasoning powers and his skills at sniffing out evil and crime. He is also wrestling more than ever with his feelings towards the opposite sex and the tension he feels between following his calling as a detective and his emotions regarding Miss Irene Doyle.

      When Nottingham disappears and grisly pieces of flesh are found, the police turn on his magical peer Hemsworth as a suspect. Pressured by Irene Doyle to exonerate Hemsworth, Holmes uses the evidence at hand to convince constable Lestrade and Scotland Yard to set the man free. But Holmes is not satisfied. He senses something wrong, and his instincts are correct. There is a master plan in effect as intricate as the wizardry used to fool the London crowds in a magic show. In reality, both magicians are in collaboration on a scheme that will find the revenge they seek on the woman who has harmed them most. Only Holmes’ ability to read the facts and Bell’s last minute heroics can save the day.

In this time of spectacle in the empire, thinks Sherlock, it is difficult to really know what is right and what is wrong, what to value. He wants to quit, not worry about such things, spend time with his dying father, live a normal life. The shadow that is following him up Bow Street at this very moment would vanish then. He could go to Beatrice in Southward, right now.

But something stops him. You saved a woman’s life and a precious boy’s too. “I’m almost there, he says out loud. He fixes his necktie, and straightens his waistcoat and frock coat. “If a sword of justice is needed, he says, even louder, not caring who hears, “…then I shall be it!”

      Peacock’s fifth mystery featuring the boy Sherlock Holmes does not disappoint. Drama, love, and a fine trail of clues lead the reader through another memorable romp into the heart of a Victorian murder mystery. This historical novel is rich in detail, setting, and culture. It could be used well in grades 7-9 as a Language Arts/Social Studies support text.

Highly Recommended.

Dr. David Ward is an assistant professor and children’s author at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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