Young Sherlock Holmes isn’t one for a quiet sit down and a biscuit. We join him at the beginning of Knife Edge, the sixth installment of Andrew Lane’s Young Sherlock series, high in the riggings of a ship. He’s returning from China, after having been kidnapped and taken to Shanghai by the evil Paradol Chamber in the last book. Now he thinks he is coming home, but life just isn’t that easy for young Sherlock.
This time, and slightly unusually for the series, the story isn’t set up against a backdrop of factual historical events. Instead the old gang is based at a spooky old castle in Ireland, with smugglers’ caves, a one-eyed psychic who appears to have the ability to communicate with the dead, and a mysterious Dark Beast that inhabits the mists. With that set of ingredients it is simply not possible for an adventure story to go wrong.
Knife Edge is great fun. The villains are villainous, the mysteries are mysterious, and the tight plot sweeps you along whilst leaving just enough time for a budding detective to be able to join in. That sense of satisfaction when you can get to an answer faster than Sherlock is tough to beat.
Andrew Lane has said that he had fun writing the book because it reminds him of the Enid Blyton Famous Five stories that he used to read as a kid. The spirit of adventure in Knife Edge beautifully recalls the atmosphere of Blyton’s stories (though there is perhaps a tad more peril and murder in this). And of course, as with all good mysteries, both confirm the idea that if everyone thinks about the problem logically then the answer, however improbable, will be revealed. Sherlock would probably give the lashings and lashings of ginger beer a miss though.