The Case of the Baker Street Irregular (Andrew Tillet, Sara Wiggins & Inspector Wyatt #1)
Author: Robert Newman
Publication Date: 1978
Blurb (GR):Andrew found London terrifying, especially after his guardian, sour old Mr. Dennison, was mysteriously abducted. Suddenly, Andrew was plunged into a series of bizarre, bombings, blackmail and murder. Then, when he met the incomparable detective Sherlock Holmes, Andrew's plight took a thoroughly remarkable turn...
Sherlock Holmes is basically a literary superhero to me. Sure his weaknesses are a little more interesting than most but he holds the same appeal to me as comic books do to fanboys. (or girls!) I am just one huge grin at all of the quick conversations, random factoids and asides, and during the eventual wrap-up when the billions of threads get sewn up tightly in a way that only Sherlock Holmes would ever be able to figure. A Goodreads friend sent me a copy of this book because she knows how much I love Sherlock and I’d never read any of the more juvenile stories. How well could the dynamic duo translate to a younger audience? The answer to that question, at least in terms of this book, is two-pronged. Robert Newman was absolutely successful in creating believable dialogue and multiple interwoven mysteries involving a few younger characters. However, I’m still not sure how large of an audience would enjoy a younger-YA/middle grade Victorian multi-layered mystery. My heart hopes that there are quite a few precocious mystery-lovers out there. As an adult, I flew through The Case of the Baker Street Irregular in an hour or two and I’m not at all ashamed to say that I was legitimately surprised at some of the connections. Some other reviews have mentioned the transparency of the mystery but I found it to be entertaining til the last and honestly, I thought it better done than many adult murder mysteries I’ve read in the past.
This series is based on the mention of “Baker Street Irregulars”(221B Baker Street being the address of Holmes’ abode), various local children who would aid Holmes and Watson in their investigations in the original stories. The Case of the Baker Street Irregular opens with Andrew Craigie, a young boy from Cornwall moving into a boarding house with his former tutor who is temporarily his guardian after his aunt passes away. Almost as soon as they arrive, Andrew’s guardian disappears. A prominent lord dies, his son has hallucinations, a woman visits Holmes and Watson to help her find her missing daughter, and someone is trying to fence stolen goods in a store on Baker Street. Are any or all of these things connected? If you’ve read any Holmes at all, you already know the answer to this question. I suppose one of my favorite things about Holmes stories is the multiple storylines. When so much is happening, I forget bits of information and when they come round again later in the story, I have those “A-ha!” moments. I’d much rather have loads of red herrings and random facts tossed out in order to make the eventual unraveling a surprise than removing all that extraneous detail and reading a murder mystery paint-by-number. (which I sometimes feel is what I’m reading)
I totally loved it and if you are a Sherlock fan and are looking for some entertainment without a lot of mental work, I think you’ll find this book an hour or two well spent. The only potential negative about the book was that I thought the author made Holmes a bit too sentimental and empathetic. I enjoy the little glimpses of humanity we get and I understand the reasons that it works in this particular story. For me, it wasn’t really a negative at all. I’m sorry this series wasn’t on my radar as a young girl but I’ll be finishing the series as an adult and that’s just fine with me.