I am always delighted when a new book comes out in Nancy Springer's Enola Holmes series. This book is the fourth, and it is the best one yet! Enola is Sherlock Holmes's little sister, whose mother took off in the first book, leaving Enola on her own. Enola's big brothers are much older than she is, and, of course, they think they know what's best for her. They want her to give up her "hoydenish" ways, put on a corset and attend a boarding school for genteel young ladies - a fate worse than death to the brilliant, creative and highly independent Enola. Luckily Enola's education, thanks to her eccentric, suffragist mother, includes exactly the sort of skill set that enables Enola to thwart her brothers and lead the sort of life she prefers.
This installment of the series opens in the London ladies' lavatory, where Enola is astonished to run into Lady Cecily, in the young woman from The Case of the Left-Handed Lady, in the company of two horrible woman who appear to be keeping her against her will. Enola quickly realizes that Lady Cecily is in great trouble, but when she hurries to follow her friend, she runs into her brother Mycroft. Mycroft and Sherlock have been searching for her since she escaped their clutches (and the dreadful boarding-school fate) eight months earlier. In her struggle to evade Mycroft, Enola is left with a cold trail to follow. Futher investigations reveal that Lady Cecily is in desperate straits indeed - but helping her will be a challenge, as Enola's every move makes her own whereabouts more likely to be discovered by her brothers.
I love that this series stays so true to the Arthur Conan Doyle stories and the Victorian time period with the mysteries and the setting and the characters. Sherlock Holmes is such a product of that society that he honestly cannot fathom why his sister acts as she does - although in this book, it seems, he is finally beginning to gain a better understanding of her. Enola is brilliant and brave, but also touchingly vulnerable. She's living all alone now that her mother has left, and while she clearly idolizes Sherlock, she can't trust him, as much as she'd love to, and it is so difficult for her to maintain her distance from the one person who might possibly begin to understand her. The mystery is fun, and it is always a pleasure to witness the resourceful Enola at work on a case - but what really has me hooked is the story of her personal journey, trying to make her way in a society that has no use for a woman of her intelligence and skills, and the bittersweet relationship she has with her brothers. I'm eagerly awaiting the next installment in this captivating mystery series.
Books in the Enola Holmes series:
1. The Case of the Missing Marquess
2. The Case of the Left-Handed Lady
3. The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets
4. The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan
The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan (#4 in the Enola Holmes series) by Nancy Springer (Philomel Books, 2008)
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Mistsandstars: "This is an intelligent, fast paced, well written series that will charm and intrigue you."
InkweaverReview: "Enola’s innovative disguises, fascinating searches for clues, and desperate escapes from Sherlock and Mycroft keep her story exciting from start to finish."