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by Andrew Lane
Farrar, Straus, Giroux, January 2013
278 pages
ISBN: 0374387699

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Sherlock Holmes is fishing - or rather, he's in a boat with his American tutor Amyus Crowe, who is fishing and attempting to teach the young Holmes to pay attention to things. Being Holmes and not being an adult, the boy finds these lessons sometimes less than enthralling. Personally, he'd rather be reading.

After the lessons are over, and Amyus has caught his dinner, they go back to Holmes Manor. A letter from Mycroft in London has arrived, and requests their presence in London for the following day. Holmes is delighted. He is not so delighted when they are shown to the Visitor's Room at the Diogenes Club (the only room in which conversation is permitted) to find Mycroft standing over a dead man and holding a knife. Convincing the police that Mycroft did not kill the man takes some doing, and places Sherlock in some major personal danger.

Once Mycroft is free, the three analyze the situation and realize that this is all connected to the disappearance in Moscow of one of Mycroft's agents. So off they all go to Moscow, guised as part of a theatrical troupe. Once there, they attempt to do some discreet investigating. Again, Holmes is in physical danger. Then he is almost arrested. There are no dull moments for this trio.

BLACK ICE lays some particular groundwork for specific skills that Sherlock Holmes makes good use of in his adult life. Amyus Crowe drills lessons into him, lessons that go beyond the surface dimensions of any given situation. While on the train to Moscow, Holmes learns a bit about the uses of theatrical makeup and costumes to alter appearances, misdirect the eye. One can probably assume that in the two previous books in this series (The Legend Begins series), Holmes begins to learn other skills for future use.

The Conan Doyle estate has given their approval to this series. One can see why. Holmes is not glamorized; he is depicted as a fairly typical if unusually intelligent adolescent male from a certain class and time in history. There are hints given in BLACK ICE of stories to be told in the future of this series. We also learn a bit about Mycroft; this book explains his staunch unwillingness to travel outside his usual routine. Lane's writing would prove a great introduction to the Canon for young readers, as well as providing older Sherlockians with a believable past for the man about whom Doyle wrote so much.

P.J. Coldren lives in northern lower Michigan where she reads and reviews widely across the mystery genre when she isn't working in her local hospital pharmacy.

Reviewed by P.J. Coldren, May 2013

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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