As is traditional, the tale of Shelby Holmes is told from the point of view of John Watson. Eleven year old Watson and his recently divorced Army Doctor Mum have just moved to New York City. Watson first meets the nine year old Shelby Holmes after an explosion rocks the apartment building he is moving into. The explosion is, of course, caused by one of Shelby’s experiments. Shelby is described by Watson as “a genius with questionable social skills”. Shelby is very much in the mould of Benedict Cumberbatch’s television Sherlock. Eulberg even makes reference to this by giving Shelby the name Petunia Cumberbatch when she goes “undercover”. The mystery that inevitably needs to be solved is when New York’s prize “pooch” is dognapped from one of Shelby’s wealthy classmates. The solving of the mystery is quite slow to get going, but the story is more about Watson’s and Shelby’s developing relationship. While Shelby is teaching Watson how to be a detective, Watson tries to teach Shelby how to interact with people. Needless to say Watson finds learning how to be a detective easier than Shelby does about how to be a friend. My favourite character by far is Shelby’s bull dog: Sir Arthur. It is a shame that he has such small part to play in the story, but that part is brilliantly portrayed. Hopefully, we will see lots more of the detectives, Sir Arthur and New York in the future as the characters (I’m counting New York as a character here too) have a lot of potential.
The Great Shelby Holmes Girl Detective by Elizabeth Eulberg, illustrated by Matt Robertson
Bloomsbury ISBN: 978-1681190532
You can read another review of the book here.