Sherlock Holmes has solved some of the greatest mysteries, battled with diabolical criminals, and basically out-thought even the smartest of men. It comes as somewhat of a relief, then, to know that at some point he went through puberty just like everyone else. Andrew Lane once again provides a glimpse into the life of teenage Holmes in REBEL FIRE, the second book that explores how the Holmes legend began. Most of Sherlock’s adventures are centered on London, England, but this time he unwittingly becomes involved in a case that has an American twist.
"[I]t is interesting to see the interplay between Sherlock and Mycroft and where Sherlock might have picked up a few of his tricks of perception. Lane also stays true to the fact that Holmes will put himself in the midst of any mystery, even if it means danger, in order to save the day."
The last thing Sherlock wants is his tutor, Amyus Crowe, and Crowe’s lovely daughter, Virginia, to leave. But Crowe feels compelled to return to America once Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock’s older brother, shows up with some troubling news. Apparently, John Wilkes Booth, the man who shot President Abraham Lincoln, may still be alive and in hiding somewhere very close. Naturally inquisitive, Sherlock takes it upon himself to investigate. With the help of his friend Matty, Sherlock manages to stumble upon a group of men hiding Booth. Of course, chaos ensues. After a minor mishap, Sherlock arrives back to tell Crowe and Mycroft that Booth is in fact alive, but fleeing back to America.
Crowe immediately makes plans to track these men, and since Sherlock and Matty are the only ones to see what they look like, they are invited along for the ride. On the way to the port, though, Matty is taken hostage, and it’s up to Sherlock, Crowe and Virginia to help rescue him. This is easier said than done, and before Sherlock can even think about helping Matty, he’ll first need to survive the boat ride to America. Apparently the group that is protecting Booth is not very happy that someone has stumbled upon their little scheme --- especially a teenager. Trouble is found in all places, and Sherlock has his hands full on the ship in the middle of the ocean.
It wouldn’t be a Sherlock Holmes mystery without a mastermind criminal, and REBEL FIRE doesn’t disappoint in that department. Let’s just say that blood-sucking leeches are involved somehow, and I’ll leave it at that. Despite Sherlock’s initial focus of just finding Matty, he soon becomes embroiled in a much larger scheme of a few leaders from the South hoping to restart the devastating American Civil War. It’s going to take all of Sherlock’s ingenuity, smarts and willpower to escape unscathed this time.
It’s not very often that you get the chance to see the origins of legendary characters such as Sherlock Holmes, and the Conan Doyle Estate certainly believes that Andrew Lane’s storytelling has done a credible job of bringing a young Holmes to life. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, apparently, as it is interesting to see the interplay between Sherlock and Mycroft and where Sherlock might have picked up a few of his tricks of perception. Lane also stays true to the fact that Holmes will put himself in the midst of any mystery, even if it means danger, in order to save the day. Here’s hoping we see more of teenage Holmes in the future.
Reviewed by Benjamin Boche on June 27, 2012