Confession: Now that he's gone, I kind of miss the Bieber-haired kid from the cover of the first book.
Fourteen-year-old Sherlock Holmes is delighted to learn that his older brother, Mycroft, has come to visit him at his uncle's estate. Except Mycroft hasn't come to see him—he's here to see Amyus Crow, Sherlock's American tutor.
See, there's a conspiracy a'brewing: John Wilkes Booth is still alive and he's somewhere in England. The British and American governments want him apprehended as quickly as possible, and Amyus Crow—expert tracker and personal friend of Allan Pinkerton—is the man they want on the job.
Unfortunately, Sherlock's rash actions allow Booth and his protectors to escape the country... while dragging Sherlock's friend Matty along as a hostage. Now Sherlock and the Crows are headed across the Atlantic, hoping against hope that they'll be able to rescue Matty... and prevent a second Civil War.
Fans of Death Cloud will be perfectly happy with Rebel Fire. It's got the same strengths—lots of genuinely thrilling action sequences (and, as in the first book, Lane shows the collateral damage of said action); a fun, twisty mystery with an especially creepy villain; and lots of a-ha! moments for Holmes fans (like seeing him first pick up a violin).
That said, it's got some weaknesses. Amyus' frequent lectures, while realistic, still read like, you know, lectures. (Some of the imparted information—like the stuff about social customs/etiquette on voyages—is quite interesting, though.) Virginia got so little screen time that she may as well have stayed in England for the duration of the adventure, and the romance angle still isn't working for me.
Also, while I appreciate the fact that this younger Sherlock isn't just (as I said in my previous review) "a shorter version of the original", I'm starting to find his lack of curiosity difficult to take. It's hard to reconcile Doyle's walking encyclopedia with this boy, who doesn't even know who the Pinkerton Detectives are—that, especially, seems like a fact he'd be all over. I understand that the author needs to convey that information along to younger readers, but seeing THE Sherlock Holmes used as a question-asking vehicle for exposition is disconcerting.
Nevertheless, he's a likable character, and there are flashes of the Holmes I Know here—he's resourceful, a quick learner, and doesn't make the same mistake all that often—and so it's not so hard to imagine him growing up into that more familiar figure.
Issues aside, I'm looking forward to book three... if only because I'm hoping to learn what the deal is with Mrs. Eglantine, housekeeper from Hell.
Book source: ILLed through my library.
Read for the 7th Annual 48-Hour Book Challenge.