Review: No Place Like Holmes by Jason Lethcoe

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Book: No Place Like Holmes
Author: Jason Lethcoe
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Release date: May 10, 2011
Source: ARC from NetGalley

Summary: (from Goodreads) When Griffin is sent to stay with his detective uncle at 221B Baker Street for the summer, he is certain that his uncle must be the great Sherlock Holmes! But Griffin is disappointed to discover that Holmes lives at 221A Baker Street and his uncle lives in unit 221B. His uncle is a detective, just not a very good one. But when Griffin meets a woman with a case that Holmes has turned away for being too ridiculous, he and his uncle team up to help her. Along the way, Griffin shows his uncle just what it means to have true faith in God, even when the case challenges that. The woman claims that her husband was eaten by the Loch Ness Monster, but monsters aren’t real – or are they?

First impressions: Griffin is super cute and likable, probably because of his (intended) resemblance to Sherlock Holmes. I loved his quick mind, and the story starts off by displaying his deductive reasoning powers while interacting with the train staff on his way into London. It’s so nice to spend time with a brilliant kid!

Lasting impressions: A fun middle grade detective book for the young Christian reader. It had humor, heart, and even a little steampunk thrown in for good measure. I particularly loved the extras at the end – a quiz and mini cases for readers to solve themselves!

Conflicting impressions: At times, the Christianity emphasis was heavy-handed, which ultimately made me like the book less. I don’t mind God references if they are true to character, which here they were, but I do mind when they don’t flow well with the rest of the narrative. It seemed like they were shoved in just to make a point, and I think most readers, even (perhaps especially) the young ones, are smart enough to pick up on that.

Overall impressions: This was a quickly paced story about a young American boy sent to London for the summer to visit an uncle he’d never met. He is a miniature genius with exceptional deductive reasoning skills and idolizes Sherlock Holmes. He soon discovers his uncle, Rupert Snodgrass, is Holmes’ neighbor and also a detective, though not a very successful one. Rupert is crass, obsessed with beating Holmes at the detective trade, and at times even bitter and mean.

When a woman in need of help crosses paths with our young hero, Griffin, he takes her to his uncle and they set out trying to solve the mystery of her husband’s disappearance. Though Griffin’s relationship with his uncle starts out rather strained, by showing off his skills Griffin ultimately wins him over. It’s a nice little subplot of family redemption and acceptance.

The Christian elements pop up a lot during Griffin’s interactions with his uncle, as Griffin tries to force love and faith upon Rupert. I believed that Griffin was genuinely concerned for his uncle’s well being, and that Griffin’s faith was a huge part of his life. I just wasn’t sure Griffin would push Rupert’s buttons about it repeatedly if he was still trying to get Rupert to warm up to him. Something about it didn’t gel with me.

Rupert is a sad, miserable man who ultimately transforms and gains some self-love by the end of the book. He has lots of fun inventions that carry them through the story, providing Griffin with the opportunity to look up to something in his poor uncle. It was cool to watch them bond over the case and start to work together. Though the case was fairly straightforward, it had plenty of exciting sequences to keep my interest.

If you like Holmes’ style of detective work, you’ll like this one, as long as you don’t mind a little Christian love thrown in for good measure.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Click the stars for a description of my rating system

Are you looking for something to read for the All Male Review Challenge? This is a book with both a male protagonist and a male author! Score!

3 thoughts on “Review: No Place Like Holmes by Jason Lethcoe

  1. This sounds cute. I totally agree with a book having any kind of opinion that is too heavy handed. However, I love that it has to do with Sherlock Holmes.

  2. I'm so wary of books with Sherlock Holmes (outside of the originals, of course) because I love Holmes so much (I'd make him my book boyfriend in a snap!) But…it sounds like this book did a good job on the detective front. Too bad about the out of place and heavy-handed messages though.

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