The Case of the Missing Marquess: 12/28/11
Recommended to me by Book Nut
The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer is the first in the Enola Holmes mystery series. Written for middle graders, it introduces a much younger sister of Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes, someone who is as smart and capable as they are but because of her youth and her gender has to struggle to live her life the way she wishes.
In this first volume Enola is in a quandary. Her father is long since dead and now her mother has run off with the family funds, leaving her with the staff and an empty house. Being a young single woman not of age, Enola will be forced do as her brothers wish.
In the middle of trying to find her mother through clues left behind meant only for her, Enola stumbles across another mystery. A young marquess has gone missing and Enola feels she understands the clues better than her brothers.
While Enola's methods are Sherlockian, her insights and observations give Springer a chance to discuss gender issues in the Victorian as well as making allusions to present day gender issues. In many of the Victorian era novels I've read, London and more broadly, Great Britain is painted with rosy nostalgia or is presented with more grime and misfortune than the average Dickens novel. The Enola books avoid either extreme while still making London a potentially dangerous but rewarding place for Enola to live.