Saturday, September 19, 2015

"The Secret Fiend" by Shane Peacock

This is the 4th book in Peacock's Boy Sherlock Holmes series.  It involves people dressing up like the Spring-Heeled Jack, a character from "penny dreadful" stories of the day who wears a black-and-green wings-like cape, has a frightening appearance, and breathes blue fire.  It attacks people, mainly women, and shouts dire warnings about chaos.  

I was actually a little annoyed with this book because Sherlock doubted his own abilities so often, and misidentified the Spring-Heeled Jack so often that it got repetitive and felt a like the author was stretching his story out to fill pages.  The previous 3 books didn't feel that way, though, so I'm not giving up on the series.  And the last chapter made up for any annoyance, with young Sherlock having a chance encounter with the great British statesman Benjamin Disraeli, who counsels him thus:

"Human beings are not God.  We were cast out from the Garden of Eden when we tried to be.  We are all imperfect, but if we are wise, we learn every day" (p. 243).

I LOVED that.  Because I agree with it wholeheartedly, and I found it refreshing in a book written in modern times, when so many spout humanistic ideas of man's inner goodness and innocence, etc.  Also, coincidentally, the Sherlock Holmes bookmark I was using for this book had a line from "The Man with the Twisted Lip" on it:  "It is better to learn wisdom late than never to learn it at all."  I thought that went superbly well with the above quotation.

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  PG-13 for violence, scary and intense scenes, and some mildly suggestive material.


  1. So cool!! I read the first 2 books in this series and then the final book. The final book was actually the first one I read, accidentally. Oops! But I do find the series absolutely fascinating and I fully intend to finish it. Of course, that probably involves re-reading the books I've already read since I've forgotten too much about the crucial characters.

    1. I have done that before -- try a random book in a series and then realize that um, shoulda started at the beginning. With mystery series it generally doesn't matter, happily.


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