The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets: 10/15/12
The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets by Nancy Springer opens with John Watson going missing. Enola, meanwhile, feels she must close up shop because her brothers have gotten to close to finding her. She has no desire to let them run her life. But there's a new threat she needs to think about, the mad house, where women are being sent who don't play by Victorian rules.
Despite her own fears and joblessness, Enola decides to investigate Watson's disappearance. With the help of the disguise shop she knows Sherlock uses, she creates a new persona for herself and sets out to befriend Mrs. Watson.
The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets takes its name from a strange set of flowers delivered to Mrs. Watson's home upon the disappearance of her husband. Although Enola had a rather Bohemian childhood, she and her mother did enjoy sharing messages with the language of flowers. That shared hobby comes in handy here and she sees a message that her brother first misses.
In so many of the books set in Victorian times I've read the women are presented in a very narrow spectrum. They are prostitutes, aristocrats, maids or flower sellers. Enola's London has many more types of women, up and down the entire social ladder. These women make London seem more real and certainly more interesting.
And sometimes, more dangerous. Enola's adventures in this third volume are more dangerous than the typical tween mystery I've read. Her life is threatened. She gets hurt. Much of what happens to her is her own misjudgment. It's both shocking and refreshing to find a tween protagonist who is vulnerable.