Plot: Sherwood-Fabre’s novel is a well-plotted, exciting introduction to a young Sherlock Holmes. This multi-layered murder mystery will keep readers engaged and guessing.
Prose/Style: Sherwood-Fabre’s prose serves the period novel well. She skillfully places readers in the English countryside in the 1800’s with accessible and exciting dialogue.
Originality: The Adventure of the Murdered Midwife feels authentic to the source material and yet surprisingly fresh. Sherwood-Fabre takes a new approach to Sherlock Holmes by examining his formative years and family relationships.
Character Development: Sherwood-Fabre takes one of the most recognizable literary characters in the world and manages to make him feel novel and accessible, while staying true to the original detective with thoughtful callback details. Readers will enjoy watching a young Sherlock evolve. Every character is memorable and serves the story well.
Blurb: Sherwood-Fabre’s attention to detail and vivid prose are on full display in this delightful look at the evolution of a young Sherlock Holmes.
Date Submitted: April 05, 2020
"Mother had always taught me a detached mind produced better results"
The Holmes family was in the public eye, even more so now that Sherlock had begun at Eton, a place he loathed. His brother Mycroft was having a great time at Oxford but when told he must come home and bring Sherlock, he reluctantly complied. On the way home by train, both of them found out their Mother had been taken to jail, accused of killing the local midwife. Mother couldn't have done it, and young Sherlock sets out to prove it as only he, with reluctant help from Mycroft could. In a turnaround type of story brick walls are hit, dead ends are found and tempers are ignited. No one is left unscathed. But Dr. Liese Sherwood-Fabre sets out to give what I have found is a backstory set at a very young time in the Conan-Doyle character. We see a young Sherlock and his loving mother, his gruff attitudinal father, and his brainiac brother all coming together to solve not just one murder that could be tied to his mother, but others. It's a fast read by someone highly steeped in Holmes' history, which fascinates me because, Holmes isn't a real person, but may be one of the best known characters in history.
This is a book once I started, I couldn't put down even though I had other obligations. The relationship between Mycroft and Sherlock was perfect. Their similarities and differences, the competition and the developing respect and affection were shown through their interactions.. Sherlock is thirteen years old and at Eton while Mycroft is at Oxford. Not only were their ages conveyed clearly, but the time period was recreated convincingly. These people lived in a specific time and culture and were affected by it so that one could see how their individuality and their place in their social and historical time interacted. The character of Constance I was marvelous. She was of a different class but as smart as the Holmes boys in her way. She was poor and a thief but also an individual of integrity and caring. I imagined her growing up and giving Irene Adler a run for the money. Constance has the makings of The Woman. Sherlock's parents were also perfectly delineated. The complexity of their relationship in terms of the period and their individual personalities worked well on its own and also how it influenced Sherlock. I wondered about one particular character because I suspected him almost immediately, but then I thought the story wasn't really a whodunit as much as it was showing us how Holmes became who he became. I was in the time, the place and the people every minute. The author writes so well and so convincingly. I think all the research she has done for her non-fiction articles has made that period a place where she lives comfortably and made it possible for others to join her there. Having read various accounts of the young Holmes for younger and older readers, this is the best of them all in the richness of the characters, not only giving Sherlock greater depth, but also bringing to life the others around him.
How the author is linking anything we know about Sherlock Holmes ( even if we're not experts on the matter) to a pure logical detective story in his childhood is truly amazing. The more you read the book, the more you get involved in the chase. Young Sherlock gets older in the process of fighting for the truth. the descriptions of action and locations are vivid and never boring. the dialogues are just the perfect length and so natural that you wonder if in fact they are not recorded. This story is an original, precise and wonderfully crafted piece of literature. I can't wait to read the other books and will encourage anyone to read the adventures of young Sherlock.
Liese Sherwood-Fabre has given us an origin story for Sherlock Holmes – or “Sherry,” as his mother calls him. And what a great story she tells. Sherlock is summoned home from his miserable first year at Eton because his mother has been accused of murdering the village midwife. His mother turns to teenage Sherlock for help in freeing her from gaol. She knows that Mycroft, though brilliant, is too theoretical.
As Sherlock collects evidence and interviews witnesses, we see him develop his deductive reasoning. The motifs of the soon-to-be-great detective come into focus. There’s the explanation for the magnifying glass. There’s the deerstalker cap. There’s the poignant backstory for the violin. There’s the grisly and dramatic inquest, in which someone else – of course – takes the credit for Sherlock’s ingenuity. In very exciting scenes, there are the bees.
Making this even richer are the relationships within the Holmes family, the delicately described social and physical environment, and Sherlock’s first love interest, Constance, a resourceful and admirable village girl and pickpocket. Young Sherlock seems like a real teenager – intelligent, awkward, worried, unsure, sensitive, and brave.
I am looking forward to the next book!
Young Sherlock Holmes known to his family as Sherry, gets his start as a detective. Readers that have any read any of the Sherlock Holmes series of books, will get insight into his family and into Sherlock, right down to the deerstalker hat. This was a wonderful and charming book. The author knows how to handle a beloved and well known character and leave the readers wanting more of young Sherlock. I am looking forward to the next book and learning more of Sherry's early life.
This book was brilliant. So well written. In short, Sherlock Holmes is 13, and is summoned home from Eaton (where he wasn't having much fun anyway). Mycroft has likewise been summoned home from Oxford. Mother has been accused of murder, and is in gaol. She knows that her sons can help save her.
We see the beginnings of the steel-trap mind that becomes the hallmark of Sherlock Holmes stories (both Conan Doyle and more recent authors). At 13, Sherlock's orderly and logical mind is still forming, but unlike the Flavia de Luce stories, he is less likely to fall into entirely adolescent behaviors. It's like seeing a tableau in miniature....it's all there, just smaller.
This book kept my attention from the first pages. I enjoyed the way the author took us into the society of the time while spinning the story; the relationships between husband and wife, the place of women in society...and of course, the lack of good scientific detective skills among the constabulary.
Even though Sherlock is 13, this is not a children's story. Rather, it's a grown-up well written mystery with a known character and a great cast of characters that is stimulating and riveting. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will definitely be seeking out more in the series.
I rarely give 5 star reviews, so you can be sure that if you pick this book up, you may not put it down until you have finished in one go. It's that good.
Enjoyed this book, was very creative how the young Sherlock's early life was depicted to fit some of the trait his later personality. The mystery, whilst very entertaining was a little predictable, but the adventures getting to the end were rather exciting. Good depiction of the era also All in all the good book which I could not put down.
Usually, I’m not a big fan of writers that use other author’s characters for their own stories but Sherlock Holmes is such an archetype in the English literature that many writers have had a go at putting their own stamp on the brand (with various degrees of success) let alone the multitude of movies and TV-series. I must say that this is one of the better attempts. The novelty here is that we meet an adolescent Sherlock who doesn’t have all his adult quirks but whose intellect should certainly not be underestimated. Some of his later characteristics shine through already as his dislike for social chitchat that he calls tedious and unproductive. And of course, his dear deerstalker cap makes his appearance as well, or is it the first of many caps?
This story takes place not long after 1865, as the end of the American civil war is mentioned as a recent event. Sherlock Holmes has been only a few weeks at school in Eton when he’s called back home. On the train home, he meets his older brother Mycroft who’s also travelling home from Oxford. He tells him that their mother is in jail and accused of murdering their local midwife. She did find the body and had an argument with the woman a day earlier but maintains her innocence. It’s the victim’s husband who accuses her of this crime and the constable had no other choice but lock her up. His father, being a justice of the peace is temporarily suspended but can’t be involved with her defence as the slightest contact may be seen as interference. Now the police have a suspect in custody, the family fears that they won’t put much effort in looking for the real killer. There’s no obvious motive as to why the mother would kill the midwife other than a dispute about herbal cures and remedies. Lady Holmes was locally known as a herb-wise woman who could provide teas and mixtures for various ailments or even to prevent pregnancies (a grave sin and crime in the eyes of moralists and religious zealots, almost as evil as providing abortions). Her brother, uncle Ernest will act as his mother’s solicitor. She asks Sherlock to help her prove her innocence as she thinks that Mycroft her older son doesn’t have the character to go out of his way to collect all the necessary evidence or carry out a proper investigation. Nevertheless, he still is an asset by processing the information. Sherlock is about 13 at this moment so the situation is a bit unlikely but hell, this is fiction about fictious characters. Ernest proves in a spectacular way that Mrs Brown was not stabbed to death with a pitchfork as was the accusation. The reluctant constable has to release Mrs Holmes but is fuming about being humiliated in court and vouches to have her back in gaol. The family name is still blemished and the smudge will remain in place until the real killer is apprehended. Every member of the family is helping to solve the case.
This is a very enjoyable light-hearted read about a familiar character in a slightly different role But it is very suspenseful with several deaths that can be natural but just as easily be murder. They must first establish who was killed, then how and why. The tension is kept up throughout the book. Every time you think aha, there’s another complication. The story is also quite funny at times when you encounter things that do reappear in the original stories. At certain moments it is very clear that Sherlock is still a teenager i.e. when he gets hot and bothered from the illustrations of human reproductive organs in a medical study book. It makes him more human and cuter than in the original adult stories. I absolutely love the interaction between him and Constance. His first crush on a girl is simply delightful Also beautiful is the obvious love for his mother, still more that of a younger boy than of an adult. He also becomes aware of the different levels and interactions in an adult relationship by observing his parents. Uncle Ernest is another favourite of mine, he’s a bit of a mad scientist/inventor and a most adorable character. Apart from the pleasant writing style, an engaging, sympathetic cast, suspense with a touch of first romance this is also a solid, well-constructed murder mystery. If there are more volumes in this series, I surely will read them. I thank Netgalley for the free copy of this book and this is my honest, unbiased review
There are certain fictional characters who capture readers’ imaginations and hearts to such an extent that they long outlive their creator and original format. This is certainly true of Sherlock Holmes who has inspired countless adaptations and revamps. It seems that we just can’t get enough of The World’s Greatest Detective and are happy for new authors to bring fresh twists to the tales.
In this new series Liese Sherwood-Fabre takes us back to Sherlock’s formative years. Sherry (as he is affectionately called by his family) has recently started attending Eton where he has failed to fit in or settle down successfully. As much as he doesn’t really want to be there he is distressed to receive a sudden summons to return home; something sinister has happened but no one will explain. He fears that his mother is gravely ill and is sick with worry until he can pry the real story out of his older brother Mycroft. Their mother is healthy - but sitting in jail accused of a terrible crime. This is how Sherlock is drawn into his very first murder case; with help from the whole formidable Holmes clan and a light-fingered accomplice.
This book is really well-written and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s light and engaging, the perfect read during lockdown. The mystery was clever and I really liked the interaction between the different members of the family, Holmes’ fans have met Mycroft before but it was nice to be properly introduced to his parents and uncle Ernest. Constance is an appealing character too, I hope that she will return for future adventures.
I’m not the biggest Sherlock Holmes fan in the world, so I can’t precisely judge how Adventure of the Murdered Midwife fits with other works. Even so, I know that any author who dares to use Conan-Doyles’ famed detective must tread lightly. It’s too easy to go astray. Make him too modern and lose authenticity. Keep him too faithful to the original and be, well, completely unoriginal oneself. But Liese Sherwood-Fabre knows how to walk that tightrope. (I keep wanting to spell her last name SherLOCK-Fabre!) Here, she imagines Sherlock as a young adolescent, not yet fully aware of his own potential. As she does so, she creates a winning, fascinating character who won my respect and sympathy. Even at 13, Sherlock possesses an analytic mind and a keen eye for details that most people overlook. He’s a detective, even at that young age, and his mother recognizes that he has the ability to snoop around without raising suspicions. Yet he’s also 13, that awkward age when one is part child and part hormonal teen. When he arrives home from Eton, he often seems lonely when he’s with his seemingly-distant father and intelligent brother. Throw in his first crush on a girl and a prank from Mycroft about human reproduction, and Sherlock begins an awkward sexual awakening that feels innocent and realistic. Throughout the novel, he begins to see the differences in societal gender roles, and his own privilege as a male. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the dynamics of the Holmes family. Sherlock’s relationship with his mother feels genuine; Violette Holmes won my sympathy almost immediately. Mycroft is Mycroft: cunning, intelligent, and ambitious. Sherlock’s eccentric uncle Ernest, who suffers from PTSD, lives on the Holmes property. He’s his nephew’s ally . . . when he isn’t busy refining a new weapon he swears the army can use. Sherwood-Fabre does an excellent job developing the relationships between these complicated and oh-so-real characters. There is love here, but that love is threatened, not only by the accusations of murder and real possibility of execution, but by each person’s secrets. The central mystery of the book doesn’t feel as compelling as it could. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s because Sherlock doesn’t really know the murdered midwife. His real desire is to clear the Holmes name by finding the real murderer. It is a legitimate motive, but I never felt any urgency about it. Also, the killer’s motive fell flat for me, despite the author’s best efforts to make it compelling. That was a bit disappointing. The climatic showdown between the killer and the future detective was exciting, though. It was fun to see how young Sherlock outwits the killer. However, the writing quality is outstanding. Sherwood-Fabre knows how to create vivid scenes. They feel pitch-perfect in the historical details but simultaneously feeling modern. Overall, this is a solid work to add to the canon of Sherlock Holmes fiction. I recommend it to any Sherlock fans, as well as historical mystery readers. 4 1/2 stars, rounded up to 5.
What was Sherlock Holmes like at 13? Sherwood-Fabre offers a creative answer in this promising series kickoff. Holmes is attending Eton when a letter from his father mandates his return home because of an unspecified problem. When Holmes meets his brother, Mycroft, on the train home, he’s stunned to discover that his mother has been arrested for the pitchfork murder of Emma Brown, the village midwife, on the Holmes family estate. The local constable, concerned about being perceived as giving the gentry preferential treatment, and aware that the two women recently argued about something, has locked her up. Certain his mother is innocent, Holmes investigates at her request. By providing Holmes with some age-appropriate concerns and reactions—he fears disappointing his mother for not maintaining his violin practice regimen while at school, and is almost physically ill when he learns of his mother’s arrest—Sherwood-Fabre makes her conceit of a teen sleuth work. Sherlockians open to plausible extrapolations from the canon will enjoy this.
The winners of the 2019 Chanticleer Internationa Book Awards were announced at their annual authors conference September 8-13, 2020. "The Adventure of the Murdered Midwife" received a first-place award in the Mystery and Mayhem division.