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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan, by Nancy Springer ($6.99) (c2008)

Enola Holmes, much younger sister of Sherlock and Mycroft, is as much fun in this her fourth adventure as she was in her first, The Case of the Missing Marquess.

It has just been a few months since 14-year-old Enola ran away from home, away from brothers intent on raising her to be a lady, wedded to some suitable gentleman when the time is right. She has established herself as the secretary to Dr. Ragostin, a private investigator, only "Dr. Ragostin" is a figment of Enola's imagination. She is single-handedly solving mysteries and managing to support herself. Now if Enola could only solve the biggest mystery of all: What happened to her mother? The reason Enola was left in the care of her brothers is that her mother suddenly disappeared, apparently traveling with a caravan of gypsies, looking for or hiding from goodness-knows-what.

London is a big city, but Enola is constantly in danger of being spotted by one or another of her brothers. In her latest case, she accidentally crosses paths with both of them, potentially hobbling her as she tries to rescue -- again -- Lady Cecily Alistair, the damsel-in-distress of the second Enola Holmes adventure, The Case of the Left-Handed Lady. In a modern public lavatory, Enola sees Cecily escorted by a pair of formidable dowagers. Cecily seems to be more a prisoner than a young woman being escorted to pick out her trousseau, but that is what the dowagers are talking about -- Cecily's trousseau. Using a flimsy pink fan, Cecily uses the secret fan signal system once popular among cultured young women to silently pass messages among themselves in public. "Rescue me," she signals before she disappears, trundled off by her captors.

The chase is on.

These books are written for children, but there are plenty of adult fans, too. I find them intelligently written, entertaining, and certainly complimentary of and complementary to the Sherlock Holmes myth. The next up, The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline, is due out soon in hardcover.

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