Friday, June 19, 2009

The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline

Fourteen-year-old Enola Holmes, younger sister of Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes, appears in this, her fifth adventure. Enola has been on the run since her first appearance in The Case of the Missing Marquess, fearful of her brothers' intention to enroll her in a private boarding school for girls. They are motivated by what they believe is her best interests, now that her mother has disappeared, and they cannot understand why she flees whenever she comes into contact with them.

The problem is that they have no idea what is best for Enola, because they don't really know her at all. Enola has set herself up as a private investigator - only she must pose as the investigator's secretary, because who in 19th-century London would consult a female detective? In this mystery, Enola's landlady receives a mysterious message that is frightening and confusing, and she asks Enola for help. Before Enola can find out very much, her landlady is abducted, the flat turned upside down, and the only clue Enola finds is the embroidery on the crinoline of an old dress in her landlady's wardrobe.

I do love this series. Enola is such an engaging heroine - she is determined and resourceful, and despite the fact that she is so very much alone, she retains her pluck and impulsive kindness. The mysteries that she solves invariably involve elements that are particularly feminine, things that the thugs who have ransacked the apartment (and her confirmed bachelor brothers) would never notice or understand, such as the language of flowers or the importance (or incongruity) of such lovely embroidery on a garment no one would ever see but the wearer. This particular book was more interesting to me for the characters involved. I loved that deaf old Mrs. Tupper, a very minor character in the past few novels, suddenly became a real person in this book. It surprised me as much as it did Enola, and the peek into Mrs. Tupper's past was fascinating. The mystery itself seemed rather obvious as compared to previous books in the series, but the historical background (particularly as it related to the Crimean War and Florence Nightingale) gave it depth and interest.

I was saddened to learn (see the interview link below) that this is the penultimate book in the Enola series. I am anxious for a reconciliation between Enola and her brothers - on her terms of course - however, and as each book in the series involves a small bit of progress as far as their relationship is concerned, I am hopeful about a positive resolution to the series. This is an excellent choice for young readers who enjoy mysteries and are ready to move beyond Nancy Drew and other such mystery series, as well as those who are interested in history and those who simply enjoy a strong, intelligent female protagonist.

Here is a fascinating interview with Nancy Springer in which she discusses her thoughts about the Enola Holmes series.

Books in the Enola Holmes series:
1. The Case of the Missing Marquess
The Case of the Left-Handed Lady
The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets
4. The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan

5. The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline
6. The Case of the Gypsy Goodbye (forthcoming 2010)

The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline (#5 in the Enola Holmes series) by Nancy Springer (Philomel Books, 2009)

Have you reviewed this book? Please leave your link in the comments and I will add it to my review. (That goes for any of my other reviews, too!)


  1. Very interesting. I still haven't read past the first one! Which I really enjoyed, but I guess I'll wait until they are all written now. It's sad when a series ends but I have to say I do get tired of the the neverending series sometimes, even when I love them.

  2. Hmm, this looks like an interesting series. I'll keep an eye out for it.

  3. Nicola - I agree! I like that this series has a direction as far as the main characters are concerned, and while I'm sad that it's ending, it's good to know that the issues won't be drawn out and never resolved, as tends to happen with those neverending series!

    Cat - I think you'd enjoy it!

  4. I love the title of this book so much. I'm interested in reading more mysteries, I love history, and I'm all for intelligent female protagonists, so I'll have to give this series a try!

    PS: Here is the link you were looking for. It didn't work because blogger is being retarded and no longer redirecting my old blogspot url to my new one. Same goes for my feed, which means that anyone who has been following me for more than 3 months is not getting my updates :/ It's a general problem, so hopefully they'll fix it at some point, but it's been 5 days so far and nothing.

  5. Nymeth - I know I always say this, but I do think you'd enjoy this series!

    Thanks for the link - I can't tell you what panic I felt when for moment I thought your blog was gone! Ack! What would I DO? :-) I hope your issue gets sorted out soon.

  6. Thanks for linking to my interview with author Nancy Springer.

    I've reviewed two of the Enola Holmes books on Inkweaver Review, most recently:

    The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan

    Your review of "The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline" is excellent. You captured the spirit of the series very accurately. It's only too bad that it must end in 2010 with "The Gyspy Goodbye."

    Thanks again,


  7. Hi, Nathan - thanks for stopping by! I enjoyed your interview with Nancy Springer - she is one of my favorites. I will miss Enola when the series ends, that's for sure. Thanks also for your link. I will add it to my Peculiar Pink Fan review.

  8. AnonymousJune 24, 2009

    I have really enjoyed your reviews of this series so far and am sad to hear they are nearly over. Must try and get copies of them at some point for myself.

  9. Thanks, Rhinoa - My daughters are interested in the series now, having seen how excited I was when the most recent one arrived. So the first one may be a read-aloud for this summer. Hope you have time to get to them some day!


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