Thursday, September 19, 2013

"Death in the Air" by Shane Peacock

Since I enjoyed Eye of the Crow so much, I decided to try the second book in Peacock's Boy Sherlock Holmes series.  I didn't like Death in the Air quite as well, but on the other hand, I did stay up late one night to finish it, which I very rarely do.  And I'm not sure why I didn't like it as well, as this book has a taut plot, good dialog, an impenetrable mystery, and good character development.  It does have a slightly more episodic flavor to it, and lacks that central tie of crows that the first had, so I think that's probably why I liked the first better.  But I'll definitely be reading more of this series!

Death in the Air begins when a famous trapeze artist falls to his death during a performance, landing almost at Sherlock's feet.  Sherlock has been honing his observational skills, and he notices several things that make him believe the daring young man on the flying trapeze was murdered.  He sets out to prove this, aided by a kindly apothecary who has semi-adopted him now that Sherlock no longer has a home.  Once again, we meet up with his semi-rival Malefactor and his almost-friend Irene Doyle, though they are less central to this case.

Peacock makes some shrewd character observations, particularly about Sherlock Holmes.  At one point, Irene Doyle says, "You have no interest in most people, it seems to me, other than those whom you can put in jail in order to make you feel better about yourself" (p. 109).  While I'm not saying that the original Sherlock Holmes has self-hatred issues exactly, it's definitely something to turn around in my mind for a while, see how it fits with him.

Once again, there were a few things that were a bit too cutesy for my taste, for instance, when his new mentor tells him, "Should you go again... the Force should be with you!" (p. 180).  The character's referring to the police force, but it's an obvious Star Wars reference that made me roll my eyes and jerked me out of the story.

So, not a perfect book, but an enjoyable one.

If this was a movie, I would rate it:  PG for some violence and some language.


  1. Ah, I do enjoy this series even though I've only read three of the books. Weirdly enough, I read the 6th one first completely by accident since the library label covered up the series number. *eye roll* So I hate that I know how it ended without having followed the entire journey!

    But I did read "Death in the Air" and have to agree with you; it wasn't as good as the 1st one or, IMO, the 6th one. The one really positive thing is how Peacock approached the back history of Holmes. I love that he's half-Jewish and that explains some of his being ostracized by society (even though he's really not in the original stories). It's just a neat interpretation that he came up with and I love it!

    1. I almost read the last one by mistake too! But realized in time, and started at the beginning instead.

      Holmes is always a man apart, whether it's because he's half-Jewish or because he's just too busy to care about societal niceties or because he's a high-functioning sociopath. Whether it's a self-instigated separation or not, it's still there, and still fascinating.

      Have you read Laurie R. King's Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes novels? If not, I cannot recommend them highly enough. Begin with the first one, A Beekeeper's Apprentice. Delicious.


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