The Dark Lady (Sherlock, Lupin, and Me #1) by Irene Adler (Capstone)
The Dark Lady, which the publisher describes as written for children ages 9-13, is based on a promising premise: Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler met as children and, along with a third friend, began their detecting careers early. The characters in this series—though this is the first volume, the publisher makes it clear that more titles will follow—are engaging, if still being developed. Irene is willful and clever, a strong female figure; Sherlock is diffident and also clever; and their friend Lupin is equally clever and a gifted acrobat.
What disappoints here is the plotting. The book begins well enough, but the young detectives do relatively little leg-work or solving—certainly not what one would expect from characters who will grow up to be the Great Detective, the only woman to ever best him, and, we are told, a future master criminal—gathering up a few clues with some minimal adventure. The denouement, however, comes when the young detectives confront their murder suspects, who quickly offer a detailed confession.
This dependence on a rushed, third-hand solution makes it seem as if the author tired of presenting clues one at a time and decided to dump a whole bushel basket of them into the children’s laps in the last twenty or so pages of the book. Yes, The Dark Lady is aimed at a young audience, but youth and careful plotting aren’t incompatible.
This isn’t to say that this series won’t develop into something worthwhile. It has plenty of potential—but the first book in the series leaves much of that potential unrealized.
The Dark Lady will be available in bookstores beginning February 1. I received an early, digital review copy from the publisher.