Friday, November 27, 2020

REVIEW: The Case of the Left-Handed Lady: An Enola Holmes Mystery (book) by Nancy Springer

The Case of the Left-Handed Lady is the second book in Springer's Enola Holmes mystery series. In terms of its intended audience, I still think it's probably aimed at older Middle Grade or younger YA readers.


Enola is still in London, and has thus far still managed to stay free of her brothers and the restrictions they'd impose upon her. Granted, only Sherlock is looking for her very hard.

Enola now cycles between three different identities: Ivy Meshle, the secretary of the fictitious Dr. Ragostin, who supposedly specializes in finding missing people; Mrs. Ragostin, the naive child-bride of Dr. Ragostin; and the "Sister of the Streets," a mute nun who walks the poorest parts of London at night, giving out blankets, food, and occasional coins. An encounter with Dr. Watson reveals that Sherlock knows more about her current situation than she expected, so she attempts to contact her mother for advice and tries to find out what else Sherlock might know. In addition, she investigates a case that Sherlock rejected, the disappearance of Lady Cecily, daughter of Sir Eustace Alistair.

Despite what the title says, the true focus of this book wasn't really the mystery of Lady Cecily's disappearance. Instead, far more of the book was devoted to detailing Enola's disguises and other efforts to stay out of her brothers' grasps, as well as her yearning for familial affection she couldn't have. In the end, the mystery aspect felt more like a bit of background color, something to add action and danger to the last few chapters.

This was quick and easy to read, just what I needed after a very terrible last few days. Enola's various disguises were reasonably well thought out and interesting, and Enola continues to be a relatively believable intelligent but young and occasionally naive girl. I wasn't expecting the mystery itself to take up so little of the narrative, however, and Springer's Sherlock continues to be a bit of a disappointment. Enola has now, in disguise, crossed paths with Sherlock at least twice since running away, Sherlock was able to decipher at least some of Enola's messages to her mother (but not the easiest ones, for some reason?), and yet he still couldn't track her down. I understand that Enola needs to be smart enough to evade him so that she can stay free and the series can continue, but the solution to that shouldn't be to make Sherlock an idiot.

I suspect I'll continue this series - the books are quick reads, and I like Enola and want to see how her family situation works out. Springer's Sherlock at least works well for me as a character, if not as a character I'm supposed to believe is the Sherlock Holmes. I do wonder if the mystery aspect will ever get stronger, though.

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