The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer
I came across this book from a news blurb stating that it was being made into a movie series. Big deal, right? What good book isn’t made into a crappy movie? (I’m not bitter, though!) Anywho, this particular title intrigued me for a couple of reasons. First, the movie series will star Millie Bobby Brown from “Stranger Things” fame (she plays Eleven). If you’re not familiar with “Stranger Things,” you need to drop everything and get right on that. I mean now. Stop reading and go. Second, the series is about Enola Holmes, the younger sister of Sherlock and Mycroft. Now, I love me some Sherlock Holmes! I immediately put the book on hold through my library and waited.
When the book arrived, I was a little dismayed that I hadn’t paid more attention to the catalog listing. Turns out, this is a juvenile book. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, I just had in mind an adult book with a young protagonist – something like “The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.” Juvenile books have some great story-telling and are often more succinct in the plot than rambling adult authors I won’t name here. You’re doing yourself a disservice if you aren’t reading all levels of books – just saying. I’m guilty of not doing that nearly enough. I took my library hoard home and plunged right in.
This book was delightful! Turns out, Enola is not just the younger sister, but the MUCH younger of the Holmes siblings. Embarrassingly younger in the sense that it was scandalous that a long-married couple would engage in the activities that would produce a daughter so late in life. Grab the smelling salts! Enola is turning 14 years old at the beginning of the book. She lives with her mother and a few servants at the family home, Ferndell Hall. Her father passed away some years before and Enola’s upbringing is eccentric. She wakes up on the morning of her birthday to find that her mother has gone out for the day, but left her presents and a puzzle book. It also turns out that her mother hasn’t just gone out for the day. She has just gone. Flown the proverbial coop for unknown reasons. Mycroft and Sherlock are sent for from London and the mystery solving begins.
As odd as Enola’s life has been, she knows her mother loves her and would never leave her behind. Mycroft and Sherlock dismiss Enola from the outset as being unkempt and utterly useless in the investigation, but Enola knows she is the only one who can track down her mother. She also has a connection with her mother that her older brothers don’t notice – Enola’s mother has a love for puzzles and word games. Enola’s very name is the word alone spelled backwards – a fact she knows to be true about her lonely upbringing. As the reason behind the Holmes matriarch’s disappearance unfolds, Enola takes off on an adventure worthy of the tales Mr. Watson tells of Sherlock. She is determined to find her mother and prove her worth to the family. Enola digs deep and shows plenty of gumption and grit in solving a few side mysteries as she winds her way to the truth about her mother.
I liked this book a lot and will be getting the rest of the books in the series. The word puzzles throughout were easily figured out for the most part, since I’m adult and I also like word puzzles, but the ultimate fate of Enola’s mother came as a surprise. The book is funny and intriguing and the reader easily feels empathetic to Enola’s plight in life, especially standing in the shadows of the famous Holmes brothers. While this may not be one of those stories that you think about long after the book is finished, it is certainly an enjoyable and quick read and a nice addition to the Holmes universe!