Rummanah Aasi
  I'm a big fan of Sherlock Holmes so anything remotely related to 221B Baker Street and I'm instantly interested. This is the reason why I picked Secret Letters by Leah Scheier. Though I did have a few issues with the book, I did enjoy it for the most part.

Description: Inquisitive and observant, Dora dreams of escaping her aristocratic country life to solve mysteries alongside Sherlock Holmes. So when she learns that the legendary detective might be her biological father, Dora jumps on the opportunity to travel to London and enlist his help in solving the mystery of her cousin's ransomed love letters. But Dora arrives in London to devastating news: Sherlock Holmes is dead. Her dreams dashed, Dora is left to rely on her wits--and the assistance of an attractive yet enigmatic young detective--to save her cousin's reputation and help rescue a kidnapped heiress along the way.

Review: Secret Letters is a promising debut from Leah Scheier. The plot and characters are an ode to the great English detective, Sherlock Holmes. Though we don't get the opportunity to meet Sherlock in this book, his influence is thoroughly shown throughout the book.
  Dora is a natural born detective. Her deductive skills are much like her supposed famous biological father who she never knew. She is a feisty character who is clearly beyond her time. Strong, smart, and very stubborn, Dora is constantly trying to fight down the gender barriers that confine her and to prove to herself that she is capable of becoming a detective. For the most part, I liked Dora though I can't suspend my disbelief that she is the daughter of Sherlock Holmes mainly because I don't see Holmes becoming a melodramatic person because it defies his logical persona. I am aware, however, that there are other series in which Holmes is married but there is enough character and plot growth to accept this change in his personality. In Secret Letters, we aren't really given much information about Holmes besides his untimely death. Regardless, I thought it was interesting trying to compare Holmes trademark characteristics with Dora. Both can easily see through the surface and their intuitive, deductive skills are certainly what I most like about them both.
  In addition to Dora, I also liked Peter, a former apprentice of Holmes but now working with another freelance detective. He offers Dora the services of his Mentor to help them to find the person that is blackmailing Dora's cousin. Shrouded with a mysterious and tragic past and oozing charm, Peter definitely fits the potential love interest bill. He is attracted to Dora's passion of investigating and can relate to her sense of loss. The dialogue and budding romance between Dora and Peter was nice to read an I thought they had pretty good chemistry.
  Despite the enjoyable characters, I was really disappointed with the lack of a Victorian setting. Though they are descriptions of clothes and mannerisms, I didn't feel as if I was transported back in time. I thought the setting and the time period were not as detailed as I expected them to be. The plot was pretty steady and suspenseful albeit a bit predictable. Overall, Secret Letters is a decent Victorian mysteries but I've read better ones.

Rating: 3 stars

Words of Caution: While not depicted, there are discussions of women who are pregnant out of wedlock. Recommended for Grades 7 and up.

If you like this book try: Enola Holmes series by Nancy Springer, The Agency series by Y.S. Lee, Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman
4 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    For some reason, I read the name Dora and instantly thought of Dora the Explorer. I have no idea why. I've never even seen that show, but I kept picturing a little cartoon girl flouncing around trying to solve mysteries. There's something wrong with me today Rummanah!

    Too bad on the setting! It can really pull me out of a book if I don't get a good feel of where things are taking place, especially in a historical novel when the setting is as much a character as the protagonist.


  2. Annette Says:

    I enjoyed this too, but I wanted more Sherlock Holmes influence. Once we learn of his death, there's really nothing else that ties him to the story at all. I did like Dora, though. Great review!


  3. Candace Says:

    That's too bad you didn't really feel the time period. Very disappointing. This book sounds really interesting though! I'm going to have to go check out more reviews cause it sounds like something I might like.


  4. I love when historical fiction novels are full of details about the time period so I'd be disappointed that this one isn't as detailed in that respect too. But, I like the sound of the MC and it's great that you thought there was chemistry with her and the love interest.


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