Monday, January 9, 2012

Review: The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline by Nancy Springer (audio book)

The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline by Nancy Springer and read by Katherine Kellgren (3 CDs, November 2011, Whole Story Audiobooks, ISBN: 978140749 413 5)

Review: The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline is the fifth in this series which features Enola Holmes, younger sister to Sherlock. Enola is now fourteen and is living with her elderly and deaf landlady Mrs Tupper, under an assumed name. She has run away from home to avoid being sent to boarding school.

The reader has met the young Mrs Tupper in the prologue where she had accompanied her husband to Scutari (Turkey) during the Crimean War and where subsequently her husband became mortally ill and was tended to by the "Lady with the Lamp", Florence Nightingale.

Thirty years later in London, Mrs Tupper is sent a mysterious note demanding she hand over a message. Mrs Tupper has no notion of what the missive means but the letter-writer does not accept that and kidnaps the old lady and ransacks her home.

Enola, who sees Mrs Tupper as family - in part replacing her own missing mother - must solve the mystery and find Mrs Tupper before any harm befalls her. Her adventure has her mixing with high society and avoiding and outwitting her own brother from time to time.

I really enjoyed The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline which has an independent, clever teenager as its heroine. Written by an American, the language sounds authentically British and is quite sophisticated. The plot is quite complicated - I'm not sure I fully understand the why but the who and what is clear enough and I like how it introduces the reader to the Crimean War and Florence Nightingale which may lead to further reading on those topics. There is an ongoing mystery regarding the disappearance of Enola's mum - is she alive still? I look forward to finding out more. There is an excellent scene near the end where Florence Nightingale explains to Sherlock Holmes the horror of corsets and boarding schools!

It's a shame that the first one in the series available in the UK is the fifth but at least the sixth, The Case of the Gypsy Goodbye, will be out on audio book in February.

Like the author, the narrator is also American but she narrates in an almost flawless English accent, only tripping-up over words like "shone" and "perseverance". Her regional accents are equally well done and her Florence Nightingale is a charm.

More Sherlock Holmes related series for children can be found here.

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