Eye of the Crow tells the story of Sherlock Holmes’s first case at the age of 13. It was an odd choice for me since, believe it or not, I have never read a book about Sherlock Holmes nor seen a movie about him!
The story is set in London in 1867. Sherlock is from a poor family, his mother having been disinherited after marrying a Jewish man, and his father unable to get a decent job because of his religion. Sherlock is called Judas his schoolmates, who bully him unrelentingly. [Actually if Sherlock’s tormentors had a more sophisticated education, they might have called him Shylock.] In any event, the streets London are much more exciting to Sherlock, and he begins to skip school regularly.
Sherlock loves to practice his skills at observing people as he walks the crowded streets of London, and he loves to follow the tabloids. A story about the murder of a young woman intrigues him, and he goes to the courthouse to see the arrival of the accused, a young Arab boy not yet nineteen. As the Arab boy is brought to the jail, something about Sherlock’s sympathetic eye catches his own, and he says to Sherlock, “I didn’t do it!” From thence onward, Sherlock is determined to find the real killer and get the Arab boy released. After all, he knows how easily prejudice can taint the facts and lead to injustice. Moreover, he himself comes under suspicion because of the communication from the accused specifically directed to Sherlock.
In the course of young Sherlock’s investigations he meets a number of people who will become important to him later on in life. Fans of Sherlock Holmes will recognize the references to characters who become familiar to readers of the adult series. We even get to know his parents a bit, both of whom help Sherlock solve the murder. But those who lack familiarity will not feel lost. The book is sufficient unto itself, and we also get to see how the young, then-inexperienced boy learns how to solve a mysterious crime.
Evaluation: This book has won quite a few awards for young adult fiction. I found it entertaining, although I imagine it would be much more rewarding for followers of the (adult) Sherlock Holmes series. Oddly, the supporting cast seemed better drawn than the main protagonist; I loved Sherlock’s parents, his nemesis/doppelganger The Malefactor, and his intrepid friend Irene much more than Sherlock himself.
Published by Tundra Books, 2007
Note Bene: All of the Sherlock Holmes stories but one are out of copyright and in the public domain. This means you can read them for free on the Internet. A good source to access these stories is The Sherlockian.Net Portal. You can also read the first chapter of Eye of the Crow for free, here.
I didn’t realize I could read Holmes on the Internet….I share your shame..I haven’t read a Sherlock story either!! This one does sound interesting and I’m sure the younger age group would enjoy it!
I need to read a Sherlock Holmes book. After I saw the movie, I told my mother that I’d never read any of the books and she was simply horrified.
Holy moses, I can read Sherlock online? Now I’m never going to get anything done at work. 🙂 Then again, I’ve never read any of those books either, so there is always the possibility that I won’t like them. Thanks for the heads up though.
I have this library book sitting on my shelf right now thanks to Belle’s review! I teach a mystery unit in the spring where we read several of Holmes’ cases and then the students write a mystery of their own. I am hoping to read this book so that I can suggest it to the class as possible summer reading.
I’ve never read a Sherlock Homes either, although I did see the most recent movie on Christmas day. I guess I never really thought about books ‘going out’ of copyright. Good to know!
I want to read this one too. After seeing the movie (which I loved) I’m interested in re-reading some of the old ones. If you are the least bit interested in Sherlock Holmes, I think seeing the recent movie on the big screen is worth the (ridiculously high) price you have to pay.
I’ll have to keep an eye out for this book. I’m sure my son will be interested in it.
By the way, I just downloaded a Sherlock Holmes app for my iPod. I haven’t looked at it yet, but it is a multi-media version of one of his books.
Thanks for letting us know that the books are now online! I’m doing a Holmes challenge (haven’t read one before!) so this is very good to know!
I’m so glad you enjoyed it, even if you didn’t love it! My daughter just saw the Sherlock Holmes movie and she said it was just amazing (high praise from her, because she she has a really critical eye, and seems to catch out all the awkward camera angles, symbolism and dialogue!). Now I’m thinking I should make the time to go see it …
Even with an education, the people bullying Sherlock wouldn’t have been right anyway by calling him Shylock because from the story we can’t really say that he’s shy. We can however say he prefers to keep to himself or is just generally introverted. Calling him Shylock would imply he’s kind of afraid to talk to others. Maybe I’m wrong but that’s just my two cents.