Sherlock Holmes may have been the world’s greatest detective, but like all human beings, he was once a teenager. Unlike all teenagers, Sherlock Holmes was a novice with an intriguing mind but less experience. In Black Ice, Andrew Lace tells all those Sherlockians out there why Holmes opted to become the world’s first consulting detective and what experiences he gained in this adventure.
Black Ice is the third novel in the Young Sherlock Holmes series but, unlike its preceding books, it is far more compelling for the fans of the great detective. Those who have read Death Cloud and Rebel Fire know that Holmes lives with his uncle and aunt, is tutored by a former Bounty Hunter from America Amyus Crowe and friends with his daughter Virginia and street-smart kid named Matty.
In Black Ice, only Amyus Crowe features prominently but due to the nature of the case, he vanishes mid way through the book that is dominated by the Holmes brothers. While the elder Mycroft is framed for a murder he didn’t commit, it is the young Sherlock who solves it to clear his brother’s name. But in order to close the case, the duo travels across Europe and ends up in Tsar’s Russia, where only the one with his wits intact wins the game.
Black Ice is not like the usual teenage novels where the mystery is limited to the circle of friends or their parents. This book is way more exciting than any other novel written in recent years and is at par with the original Sherlock Holmes novel, written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Like its predecessors, it takes place in the real world in which the mystery is real, as is the way to its solution. In fact, it is one of those novels that keep you engrossed till the twist in the tale and the solution stares you in the face, and shocks you.
The development of Sherlock Holmes from a mere teenager to a street-smart detective is also visible in this book where his deductions in front of the much-older Mycroft Holmes and Amyus Crowe surprise them both, and help immensely in the investigation. And then there is Rufus Stone who returns as Holmes’ violin teacher and is also part of the mystery and its solution.
Black Ice has its fair share of action sequences where Holmes is surrounded by thieves, robbers, homeless people and even dogs and a murderous falcon — all central to the mystery — yet he escapes using his mind rather than force. The villain may not be a creepy person like in the other novels but is someone least expected, making this novel far more interesting than any other Holmes reincarnation.
On the whole, Black Ice is what you need if you are looking for a book that has adventure, action, suspense, thrill and mystery rolled into one. At the beginning, Holmes tries to stand up to Mrs Eglantine — the housekeeper from Hell — at his uncle’s place and by the time the Moscow Mystery is wrapped up, he has made up his mind to have a final showdown with her soon. With more sequels lined up, let’s hope Holmes wraps up the mystery at home just like he does elsewhere. — S.F.