I adore nothing more than curling up with a good mystery novel. The thrill of an unexplained case, clues to discover, people to interrogate and the big reveal where all the pieces slot neatly together making you go “Ah! Now that makes sense!” So, you can imagine my excitement when I received (From the lovely people at Bloomsbury and Boolino, thank you!) The Great Shelby Holmes Girl Detective by Elizabeth Eulberg. Right up my street. Let’s begin shall we or as Shelby would say “The game is afoot Watson.”
John Watson is an 11 year-old boy who has just moved to New York City and is desperate to make friends after moving from army post to army post with his mum. In the apartment above him lives 9 year-old Shelby Holmes. Detective Shelby Holmes. He quickly learns that she is not your avenge 9 year-old girl and is intrigued by her impressive methods of observation. Soon enough he finds himself caught up in a dognapping of the prized pooch Daisy and with the dog show in a few days Shelby and Watson need to solve the case quickly. This is Shelby’s biggest case yet, can she handle the perplexing mystery of friendship or will it all go to the dogs? Pardon the pun but I just couldn’t help myself.
I am a huge detective fan, my bookshelves are filled with the tales of famous detectives in literature. Growing up I dreamed of hunting down criminals and solving mysteries. The closest I got was playing in the garden where my teddy bear was often the guilty party for stealing Barbie’s pink convertible car. Believe me at 8 years-old, it was a difficult case to crack. I truly wish this book was around when I was younger because it’s perfect for younger readers to get into crime literature without all the heavy violence, gore and daunting language. It’s innocent and clever which is what I love about it. The little references to the original Sherlock Holmes and the homage to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is a delight to see and a tip of the hat to the original content. I want to thank Eulberg for writing this terrific book and introducing a younger audience to the fascinating world of Holmes and Watson. I really can’t thank you enough. You got it perfect. Can we go solving cases together some day with our own Toby?
‘What kind of name is Sherlock? You wanted to go undercover as Sherlock Holmes? Like anybody would believe that.”
What Eulberg does brilliantly is make it relatable to a younger audience. She adds life changing themes such as the struggles of moving house and starting all over again, parents separating and how difficult it can be to make new friends. Strong elements that have a major impact on children/teens growing up. By weaving them in a story such as this, it allows the reader to see and understand that they are not alone. They can easily relate to the characters and realise that what they are feeling is perfectly normal. They are shown they should not be ashamed of their situation. Nobody is perfect, not even the great Shelby Holmes (although she would tell you otherwise.) Even she struggles to make friends which shows the reader that at the end of the day we are all only human. No matter how friendly or clever we are, we all struggle with something and it’s how we deal with it that defines us.
The story is well thought out and each chapter slots into place perfectly for the big reveal. I honestly couldn’t put it down and my eldest was eager to learn where the next clue would lead us. The suspense of who the dognapper was kept us on our toes. One minute it was the sister, then the dog trainer, then back to the sister. It really made our brains work and observe everything that we discovered which is a nifty little trick for children/teens to learn. Observe your surroundings and store them in your ‘brain attic’ for later use. You never know when it will come in handy. I fully intend to have a good clear out and rearrange mine.
My favourite character overall has to be Sir Arthur, Shelby’s English Bulldog. I do love silent characters because they can express huge amounts through body language without uttering a single word. For example John needs to get Sir Arthur in the bag before the train leaves as dogs are only allowed on if contained. He is confused at how he is meant to carry him on as he weighs a tonne. Sir Arthur simply picks up the bag, trots onto the train, pulls it open wide enough until he is happy and then sits himself down. That whole scene made me giggle at how animals can outsmart us mere humans. Good dog.
‘He picked up the bag in his teeth and marched into the subway car. He then placed the bag down on the floor and crawled back in.
Every chapter had me gripped because, like Shelby and Watson, I wanted to know who had stolen poor Daisy. I felt involved and part of the team which is why it works so well being narrated by John. Shelby is a very unique person and it would be extremely confusing to have the story told by her. By having it told by John we can relate more as it’s a whole new world the reader is being introduced to. We learn the tricks of the trade as it were from Shelby and come to understand her way of thinking and logic. It’s cleverly done and definitely adds to the story.
I was sad to say goodbye to our new friends as I finished the last page. Stories such as this can really take you away from the daily grind of every day life, making it that little more exciting and adventurous. Just one of the many reasons why I love books. I look forward to reading more of Shelby and Watson and going on their many adventures with my boys. Gives me even more of a reason to buy a deerstalker hat!
I give this book a five out of five paw rating! It was a pleasure to read.
My eldest is now wandering around the garden with a magnifying glass searching for clues as to whom dug up the flowerbed. Little hint for you. They have ridiculously fluffy tails that wiggle and whiskers that twitch.
Hop hop wiggle wiggle
Check out the authors website below.
And also a big thank you to the lovely people who sent me this book to discover.
If you too would like to go on an adventure with Shelby and Watson, click here and buy a copy for only £4.19! 30% off so hurry while it lasts and enjoy reading!