Monday, January 25, 2021

REVIEW: The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan (book) by Nancy Springer

The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan is the fourth book in Springer's Enola Holmes mystery series. I believe it's aimed at Middle Grade audiences. I bought my copy brand new.


Secure in the knowledge that Sherlock and Mycroft haven't tracked down her Ivy Meshle identity yet, Enola works on a few of the fictitious Dr. Ragostin's cases, the latest one involving a missing war memento. She hasn't been putting too much effort into it, so when she accidentally encounters Lady Cecily (from The Case of the Left-Handed Lady) her attention is easily snagged. It's clear that something is wrong, but Cecily only has time for a brief coded communication using a pink paper fan before two ladies who seem to have some control over her lead her away. She manages to leave the fan behind, so it's up to Enola to use it to figure out what's going on and how she can help. 

My feelings about this series have been relatively lukewarm. There are things about it that I really enjoy. Enola is easy to root for and generally pretty level-headed, but she still has moments when she's physically and emotionally overwhelmed and I'm reminded that she's only 14. She desperately wants unambiguous and warm familial affection, but it seems unlikely she'll ever get it from her mother. Sherlock's a possibility - he's warming up to this little sister he'd never previously spared a thought for - but he still mostly shares Mycroft's more traditional ideas about how to be a good brother to a 14-year-old sister. 

Unfortunately, the mysteries have generally been a bit weak, and Springer's Sherlock has consistently been useless and in no way believable as the Sherlock Holmes. If Enola had been less appealing and if the books hadn't been such quick reads, I might not have made it this far. Fortunately, this book turned out to be the best one in the series thus far.

True, Sherlock continued to be pretty useless, but this time he managed to successfully do a little investigating without Enola completely beating him to it (although he still practically had to be guided through the rest). And I finally got some more of the on-page Holmes family scenes I'd been wanting, even though it was annoying that Sherlock still hadn't unbent enough to do what was necessary to fully win Enola's trust. I'm really starting to get tired of his habit of dismissing or overlooking women or feminine things, even after everything he's seen Enola and other women in the series do.

The mystery was pretty good. Enola viewed Cecily as a kindred spirit, which added a nice emotional layer to the story, and the investigation was interesting and seemed logically done, although Enola's "plan" near the end definitely wasn't the best. 

Here's hoping the last two books are at least as enjoyable as this one. I doubt Springer's Sherlock will suddenly morph into a believable Sherlock Holmes, but as long as he isn't as dense as he was in The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets, I can deal with him if that's what it takes to get the "gradually warmer and more affectionate big brother Sherlock" scenes I've been wanting.


A very brief excerpt from the next book in the series.

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