Elizabeth Eulberg

LONGLIST REVIEW: The Great Shelby Holmes Girl Detective


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.

The Great Shelby Holmes!

John Watson is used to living on military posts all over America, making new friends and then moving on. With his mum, he has moved to his first 'real' home- an appartment at 221 Baker Street in New York. Here he meets Shelby Holmes, a one-of-a-kind nine year old, who has a passion for solving crime.

Although they have nothing in common, the two join together to find a prize winning dog which has been stolen from its home. Shelby's detective skills are second to none, but she has much to learn from John about 'a mystery that's always puzzled her- friendship.'

'The Great Shelby Holmes Girl Detective' is a fun mystery story, perfect for reading aloud to a class or for enjoying independently. The story echoes the original Sherlock Holmes stories with Watson recording the exploits of the master detective. Like Sherlock, Shelby finds it hard to relate to others and makes plenty of social gaffs as she seeks the truth. Seen from Watson's point of view, the reader comes to empathise with this unique character.

The book also explores John Watson's feelings and how he copes with his parents' recent divorce and his desire to fit in with others. Both are endearing characters and somehow make the perfect team!

With plenty of humour and action, 'The Great Shelby Holmes' is a fabulous read! I am sure there will be more adventures for this crime fighting duo. In the words of Connan Doyle himself, 'The game is afoot.'