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Literature / Young Sherlock Holmes

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Young Sherlock Holmes is a series of young adult thriller novels by Andrew Lane featuring Arthur Conan Doyle's detective Sherlock Holmes as a teenager in the 1860s that is faced with numerous crimes and adventures throughout the series.

Based on the success of Charlie Higson's bestselling Young Bond series, the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle authorised a series of books detailing the life of the teenage Sherlock Holmes.

One of Andrew Lane's key aims is to explain some of the complexities of Holmes' character, who is scientific and analytical on the one hand, and artistic and moody on the other. Two new characters introduced in this series, his two tutors, Amyus Crowe and Rufus Stone, help shed light on the formation of the two sides of his character evident in later life.

Books in the Young Sherlock Holmes series are:

  1. Death Cloud (2010)
  2. Red Leech (a.k.a. Rebel Fire) (2010)
  3. Black Ice (2011)
  4. Fire Storm (2011)
  5. Snake Bite (2012)
  6. Knife Edge (2013)
  7. Stone Cold (2014)
  8. Night Break (2015)

Aside from both featuring a teenage Sherlock Holmes, the book series has no connection to the film of the same name.

Tropes found in Young Sherlock Holmes:

  • Accidental Kidnapping: In Red Leech, the secessionists abduct Matty on the mistaken assumption that he is Crowe's son; having seen him and Crowe together.
  • Animal Assassin: In Death Cloud, Baron Maupertuis uses swarms of killer bees to dispose of his enemies.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Baron Maupertuis, the Big Bad of Death Cloud, is an Evil Cripple, who is driven by a fanatical hatred of England and who plans to murder hundreds of thousands of British troops.
  • Arrows on Fire: In Red Leech, Sherlock uses flaming arrows to set fire to the Union Army's hydrogen filled balloons.
  • Bathroom Breakout: In Red Leech, Matty's kidnappers let him off the train to use the toilet while one of them watches the door. Holmes breaks through the rotted back wall of the wooden outhouse to help him escape.
  • Broken-Window Warning: When Matty is kidnapped in Red Leech, the kidnappers throw a large rock with a note tied to it through Crowe's window. The note says that if Crowe leaves them alone for three months, Matty will be released unharmed.
  • Convenient Misfire: When Sherlock attempts to shoot Gilfillan in Red Leech, the rifle jams. Justified as the two of them had been wrestling for control of the gun on a muddy riverbank, and Gilfillan comments that the rifle has a delicate mechanism and is susceptible to grit.
  • Crazy-Prepared: In The Reed Leech, the heroes assume that the villains won't be able to target them as they sail to America due to not knowing what ship they're on. It turns out that the villains bribe a crewman on every ship sailing from England to America during that timeframe to kill any passengers who fit their description.
  • Damsel out of Distress: In Death Cloud, Holmes finishes dealing with Big Bad Baron Maupertuis and goes to rescue Virginia who is being attacked by The Dragon Mr Surd. However, when he gets to her, he finds that Virginia has already knocked Mr Surd out and was at the point of coming to rescue him.
  • Death Faked for You: In Red Leech, John Wilkes Booth had an unknown confederate with him in the barn who died in the fusillade of Union shots and whose body was burned beyond recognition in the subsequent fire. It was assumed that his body was Booth's.
  • The Dog Bites Back: In Red Leech, the Big Bad Duke Balthassar has a pair of cougars that he uses as Right Hand Attack Dogs: having semi-trained through a combination of fear and cruelty. Sherlock is able to turn them against Balthassar by giving them a taste for his blood (by feeding them the eponymous red leech) at a point when he is in a weakened position. Balthassar falls off a cliff attempting to escape them.
  • Doomed by Canon: Anyone who has read Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories knows that nothing lasting can come of the relationship between Sherlock and Virginia.
  • Evil Cripple: Baron Maupertuis, the Big Bad of Death Cloud. Accidentally trampled by British troops during the Charge of the Light Brigade, he was left paralysed from the waist down by a broken spine. He employs servants to move him around like a human puppet.
  • Eye Scream: When Sherlock and Gilfillan are fighting in Red Leech, Sherlock brings the fight to an end by jamming the barrel of Gilfilian's rifle into his eye; causing Gilfillan to scream and pass out.
  • Fake-Out Make-Out: In Red Leech, it occurs to Sherlock that kissing Virginia would be the perfect way to hide his face from the man they are tailing. However, he is too embarrassed to attempt to put the plan into operation. Fortunately, the man does not notice him.
  • Fed to the Beast: In Red Leech, Duke Balthassar has Sherlock, Virginia and Matty thrown to his Komodo dragons to be devoured.
  • Fictionalized Death Account: In Red Leech, John Wilkes Booth survives the burning barn. The man shot and killed is a coconspirator of Booth's whose badly burned body was mistaken. Booth manages to escape, although badly burned. At the end of the novel, he is confined to an insane asylum where he will live out the rest of his life and die in anonymity.
  • Fiery Cover Up: In Death Cloud, Clem burns down the warehouse (at the Baron's orders) to ensure they have not accidentally left any evidence behind. Unfortunately, Sherlock is hiding in the warehouse at the time.
  • Giving Them the Strip: During the sword fight in Death Cloud, Baron Maupertuis pins Sherlock to the wall by thrusting his sword through the shoulder of Sherlock's jacket and into the wall, and then comes at Sherlock's face with a spinning saw blade. Sherlock escapes by slipping his arm out of the jacket.
  • Groin Attack: Sherlock kicks the evil steward Grivens in the groin when Grivens attempts to corner him in his cabin in Red Leech. This gives Sherlock a chance to escape.
  • Ground by Gears: The final fate of Grivens in Red Leech. Tipped over a walkway in the engine room of the ship, his coat snags on the cams of the massive steam engine and he is crushed to death.
  • Have You Told Anyone Else?: In Death Cloud, the villains capture Sherlock and demand to know who else he's told about the bee attacks. He names four of the five other people (leaving out someone who lives nearby and would be easier to kill than the other four) who know. Baron Maupertuis unhappily notes that this is too many people to kill (specially since they're not all close together) and decides he needs to accelerate his plan instead. He still tries to kill Sherlock, though.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Virginia Crowe, the teenage Holmes' love interest, is a redhead. Whenever he thinks of her, one of the first things to come to his mind is her cascade of red hair.
  • Karma Houdini: Many Big Bads and/or their thugs escape being killed or arrested, such as Baron Maupertuis.
  • Kid Detective: The series features a teenaged Holmes who is still developing his deductive genius while getting involved in adventures that are a lot more action-oriented than his later ones will be.
  • Killer Outfit: In Red Leech, Grivens is killed while fighting Sherlock in the engine room of a steamship. His coat snags on the cams of a gear and his dragged into the workings where he is Ground by Gears.
  • Molotov Cocktail: In Death Cloud, the thug Clem uses oil lanterns as makeshift Molotov cocktails. He uses one to burn down the warehouse, and another when he attempts to torch Matty's narrowboat (with Matty and Sherlock on board). Fittingly, Sherlock uses one at the end of the novel to trigger a dust explosion in the fort.
  • Narrative Profanity Filter: From Red Leech:
    Matty said a single word that expressed his shock. Sherlock assumed it was a word he'd picked up along the waterways in his travels.
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: In Red Leech, Duke Balthassar has Sherlock, Virginia and Matty sit down with for an meal which, for the most part, proceeds quite civilly as he attempts to find out how much they know about his scheme. After the meal, he orders them thrown to his Komodo dragons.
  • Outside Ride: When Sherlock is kidnapped from the fair in Death Cloud, Matty follows by clinging to the back of the carriage that is taking him away.
  • People Puppets: An oddly literal version occurs in Death Cloud. Evil Cripple Baron Maupertuis, who is paralysed from the waist down, has his servants wheel him around on a wheeled frame, moving his legs with cords like a giant puppet to allow him to fence with Sherlock.
  • Pinned to the Wall: In Death Cloud, Baron Maupertuis pins Sherlock to the wall during their sword fight when he thrusts his sword through the shoulder of Sherlock's jacket and into the wall behind him.
  • Red Right Hand: Mr Arrhenius from Snake Bite suffers from a skin condition that turns his body silver.
  • The Remnant: In Red Leech, Duke Balthasar is the self-appointed head of the 'Government in Exile of the Confederacy', and plans to rise an army to conquer Canada and transform it into a new Confederated States of America.
  • Right-Hand Attack Dog: Duke Balthassar, the Big Bad in Red Leech, has a pair of semi-trained cougars named Sherman and Grant that he uses as enforcers.
  • Scary Stinging Swarm: In Death Cloud, the Big Bad uses swarms of weaponized killer bees as Animal Assassins.
  • Shovel Strike: In Red Leech, when Sherlock is cornered in the ship's engine room by the murderous Grivens, he defends himself with stoker's shovel.
  • Stealth Pun: Duke Balthasar, the Big Bad of Red Leech, is described as being close to seven feet tall, painfully thin, with pale skin and pale blond hair, dressed all in white with a white porcelain mask. In other words, he is 'the Thin White Duke'.
  • Suffer the Slings: In Red Leech, Sherlock buys a sling to avoid suspicion while pretending to shop. He later uses the sling to win a Traintop Battle; hitting Ives in the forehead with a ball bearing and causing him to fall off the train.
  • Traintop Battle: In Red Leech, Ives confronts Holmes on top of the train. Holmes manages to win the confrontation with the aid of a sling, that sends Ives off the side as the train is going over a bridge.
  • Two-Faced: In Red Leech, half of Booth's face is normal, even handsome, with a moustache and goatee. The other half is a shiny mass of scar tissue from where he was burnt in the barn fire.
  • Weapon Specialization: Mr. Surd, The Dragon to Baron Maupertuis in Death Cloud, uses a metal-tipped whip as his preferred weapon and is an expert in its use. He is capable of pinpoint accuracy, doing such acts as deliberately missing Sherlock's eye by millimeters.
  • We Named the Monkey "Jack": Duke Balthasar, the Big Bad of Red Leech, is the leader of 'the Government in Exile of the Confederacy'. He has two semi-tamed cougars he calls Grant and Sherman, in what he admits is a kind of sick joke.
  • Wrench Whack: In Red Leech, Grivens attempts to kill Sherlock with a large engineering spanner in the ship's engine room.
  • You Wouldn't Shoot Me: In Red Leech, Gilfillan says this after Sherlock has managed to wrestle the rifle off him and his pointing it at him. Sherlock proves him wrong by pulling the trigger, but the rifle jams.