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The Great Shelby Holmes: 01/26/17

The Great Shelby Holmes by Elizabeth Eulberg

The Great Shelby Holmes by Elizabeth Eulberg is the start of a new middle grade mystery series inspired by the Sherlock Holmes stories. One thing my daughter has suggested to take into account the many moods of Dr. Watson (and his changeable first name) is that Watson is actually identical twins: one named John and one named James. Eulberg takes the Watson problem and solves it by making Watson into two people: his mother, an army doctor just returned from Afghanistan, and John Watson, diabetic boy who therefore can't partake in the same excesses as his neighbor, Shelby.

Like Elementary it's set in New York City. That gives a familiar city for Watson to adventure in with Shelby, while removing it from the clichés that pop up when set in London.

Shelby Holmes is not wealthy in this one. She's living in an apartment with her parents — two assistant professors at the local university. Because their heads are full of assignments and grading, Shelby has a lot of free time on her hands. Shelby has taken that time and put it to good use, making friends and allies around the borough.

As this is the first Shelby Holmes story, it must give a quick nod to the first Sherlock Holmes story — which it does in a case that's similar to that in "A Study in Scarlet." The problem with that first book is the incredibly long flashback after the case has been solved filled with sensationalism.

So rather than drag us through a cleaned up, middle grade appropriate back half, Eulberg jumps to the conclusion of that initial crime (mostly related to some graffiti) and then moves onto the actual crime of the book — a dog napping.

This second story is sort of like the hound of best in show, if you will. There aren't any giant, phosphorescing hell hounds, but there is a missing dog, and a suspect who is known to sleep walk.

The gist of the mystery is that a famous show dog has gone missing without showing up on any of the CTVs in the building. No one heard the dog leave even though she barks at almost everyone. She needs to be found before her competition at the upcoming dog show.

It's a really fun start of a series. Via a couple of tweets exchanged, I have it from Elizabeth Eulberg that there are at least two more books planned, with each one coming out in the fall. Book two, just announced is The Great Shelby Holmes Meets Her Match.

Five stars

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