Farrar Straus Giroux, 2011
Death Cloud is the first book in the “Sherlock Holmes: The Legend Begins” series; I previously reviewed Rebel Fire which I read out of order. Having read this book makes the first few chapters of Rebel Fire a bit more meaningful. Anyway, this book introduces us a 14 year-old Sherlock who is an outcast at his boarding school, mostly because he is smarter than everyone else – including some of the teachers who resent him. He is looking forward to going home for the Summer of 1868 when his brother, Mycroft, shows up and says their father is on his way to India, his mother and sister are too ill to look after him for the summer and he, Mycroft, is too busy with work. So Sherlock gets booted to a distant relative of the family where he thinks he is going to spend a perfectly boring summer with two old people and one very resentful house keeper. Boy, is he surprised at what happens!!
His new friend, Matty Arnatt, witnesses what looks like a cloud of smoke covering a man’s body and then when it goes away the man is covered with pustules and boils – and is dead. Then Sherlock witnesses the same thing. From there the two boys find out what’s going on and in the process, Sherlock is kidnapped three times, drugged with laudanum, almost burned to death, is beaten up several times, whipped with a metal-tipped bull whip, kills a man and blows up a fort. Quite a boring summer, huh?
The villain is quite pathetic, creepy, amoral and gross. The villain in Rebel Fire was as well. I wonder if this is going to be a theme throughout the series?
I really liked this book and look forward to reading the other seven!! in the series. The story is nonstop action, giving hints of the future detective – and we even learn why he loves bees so much!! This series has been endorsed by the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Estate, so it meets their high standards. Well-written, well-researched and well-done!!!
Rating: 4 out of 5 paws
And of course, I have to include my mancat crush, the very cool Benedict Cumberbatch, as Sherlock Holmes (although Jonny Lee Miller is coming up a close second).