Monday, January 18, 2021

REVIEW: The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets (book) by Nancy Springer

The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets is a Middle Grade historical mystery, the third book in Springer's Enola Holmes series. I bought my copy brand new.


Enola is frozen with indecision, wondering what new identity to create for herself now that she thinks Sherlock might soon uncover "Ivy Meshle," when an article about the disappearance of Dr. John Watson catches her eye. No one, not even the famed detective Sherlock Holmes, knows what has happened to him. Although it puts her at risk of being captured by her older brothers, Enola knows she must do all she can to help Watson.

Readers know from the start that Watson has somehow been mistaken for someone else and committed to an insane asylum. The question is how it happened, and whether Enola, Sherlock, or both can find and free him.

I continue to read this series for the weird Holmes family dynamic, which may seem a little odd since they're almost never in the same room together. There's Enola, who desperately wants unambiguous displays of love and affection from her mother. She idolizes Sherlock but also fears what he and Mycroft would do if they tracked her down - she doesn't want to be trapped at boarding school and forced to live whatever sort of life they think is proper for a 14-year-old girl. There's Sherlock, who wants to be a good older brother but doesn't understand Enola at all (although maybe he's starting to?). And then there's Enola's mother, whose primary contact with Enola is through rare personal ads in the newspaper, written in code.

And also Mycroft, but he's barely had any on-page presence since the first book. I do think it's interesting that he apparently has a better grasp of his mother and Enola's shared code than Sherlock does, though.

The biggest problem with this series is that Springer's Sherlock is useless. He cannot track down his 14-year-old sister, despite having been in her presence multiple times. And in this particular book he can't even track down his long-time friend, Dr. Watson, supposedly because something as feminine as bouquets and flowers doesn't interest him enough for him to notice that there's something odd about one of the bouquets that was delivered to Mrs. Watson.

Granted, Enola got lucky. If one of the people involved had watched their mouth a little better, she'd have hit a dead end in her investigation. And she was super lucky that she wasn't caught while snooping and trying to get a little more information - I found that part to be incredibly difficult to believe.

This is a mystery series, and yet the mysteries continue to be weak and terrible. It's a shame, because I like Enola and find her strained family relationships to be interesting. I'll probably continue on because the books are quick reads and I really want to get to the point where Enola and Sherlock finally meet and talk to each other as themselves. (Which is what it would take for him to recognize her. I seriously cannot believe how unobservant this Sherlock is.)


An excerpt from the next book, The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan.

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