Title: The Case of the Baker Street IrregularThe Case of the Baker Street Irregular
Author: Robert Newman
Pages: 216
Recommended Ages: 9-14
Star Rating: ★★★★

Imitation fiction.

The Story.

Andrew’s always wondered about his parents. They’ve both been a mystery to him – his father dead, his mother absent. And now that Aunt Agnes is dead, it seems that he’ll never discover the secret of his parentage.

He’s just arrived in London with Mr. Dennison, his tutor and guardian. The two of them have never been close, but when Andrew sees Mr. Dennison being forced into a cab driven by a mysterious broken-nosed man, he’s alarmed. His alarm turns to fright the next night when that very same cabman returns for him and chases him through the heart of London…

Why is this man determined to catch Andrew? What is the purpose of the mysterious bombings occurring in London? And can Mr. Holmes solve both of these mysteries in time to save Mr. Dennison?

Discussion.

I’ve read at least five pieces of imitation Sherlock Holmes fiction. These were written with varying degrees of stylistic accuracy ranging from exceptional to outright horrid. The Case of the Baker Street Irregular is not quite as simple to classify.

To begin with, Holmes and Watson are not themselves the main characters – Andrew and his friends, Screamer and Sam (members of Holmes’ band of Irregulars), function in that role. Holmes and Watson follow as close seconds and, in that position, do not receive the same amount of attention that Doyle gave them, and are not the fully developed characters of canon Holmes.

However, the book was saved by the fact that I could hear Basil Rathbone’s voice ringing through the clipped dialogue of Holmes. Newman may not have created the original, more philosophical Holmes of Doyle’s works, but he (purposefully or accidentally, I know not which) conjured up good old Rathbone to the pages.

Oh, and one last quirky positive for me – Andrew comes from a small city which he describes as being ‘near Penzance’. On the last page, Watson regales Holmes with the song “A Policeman’s Lot Is Not a Happy One” from the Gilbert & Sullivan musical ‘The Pirates of Penzance’. HOW FUN IS THAT?!?

One of Holmes’ clients comes to him begging him to find her daughter, whom she says her husband has taken with him to the continent. When asked why he did this, she responds that it was because she wanted to divorce him because she had discovered that he was having an affair, and he took the daughter to keep her from beginning the divorce.

‘Damn’ is used once.

Conclusion. A fun read for detective-oriented children or committed Holmes fans.

Review © 2013 Laura Verret

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