Friday, 24 August 2012

Red Leech by Andrew Lane

Title: Red Leech
Author: Andrew Lane
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Released: November 1st 2010
Pages: 338 (Paperback)
Buy: Amazon

Fourteen-year-old Sherlock Holmes knows that Amyus Crowe, his mysterious American tutor, has some dark secrets. But he didn’t expect to find John Wilkes Booth, the notorious assassin, apparently alive and well in England—and Crowe somehow mixed up in it. When no one will tell you the truth, sometimes you have to risk all to discover it for yourself. And so begins an adventure that will take Sherlock across the Atlantic, to the center of a deadly web—where a friend is in peril and a defeated army threatens to rise again.

Now I've said that I've been reading this book for about three weeks now, but I actually only really got into it this last week - and I have to say, I'm surprised that I didn't get into it sooner. I must admit that these novels are slow to start - but once they get going, they are truly gripping. This is definitely my favourite so far.

In this book, we continue from the point of view of the young Sherlock Holmes, as he continues to spend his summer at his aunt and uncle's house in Farnham, getting tutored by American Amyus Crowe, whilst spending his free time with Matty Arnatt and Virginia Crowe. However, when his elder brother Mycroft comes to visit him and Amyus, he discovers that a master American assasin is on the loose nearby - and, naturally, Sherlock goes after him, thus starting a chain reaction of kidnappings, travelling, murder, and everything else in between.

What I love about Lane, as I said in my previous review, is that he manages to recreate the perfect young Sherlock - it is believably still Conan Doyle's Sherlock, just younger. It really is an amazing talent, and if you love the original Sherlock's, you'll adore this.

What I didn't like, however, was that it also seemed unrealistic. I know some of the things are a bit far-fetched, but the point of the Sherlock books is that you can imagine there is a detective out there like this, solving mysteries just like these - it's down to logic, at the end of the day. But with these books, all the killing and travelling just isn't as realistic as it could be. I mean, for example, at one point Sherlock was riding on the top of the train - and he didn't fall off. I know they used to go slower than the current ones, but I still don't believe that a fourteen year old boy would be able to manage that. It was just small things like that that I had a problem with.

I also liked the characterization of the villains. I found that the fit that kind of olden thug stereotype, and I did find myself shivering over character's like Duke and Booth - they were genuinely creepy, and the ability to make the reader outwardly shiver through words is a pretty amazing talent.

I think that if you love the original Sherlock Holmes series, you'll love this, especially if you are around the ages of 12 - 16. The more I read into the series, the more I am getting into the overall series plot, and I am loving it so far. I am definitely going to keep reading it - look out for a review of Black Ice coming soon!
Rating: 4/5


  1. Hi,

    I hope you'll be pleased to hear that I've tried to be more realistic in the third, fourth and fifth books. You're right about the train journey, and my editor pointed that very same problem out to me.


    Andy Lane

    1. Hey! Yeah, it wasn't a major problem I had, but I thought it could be tweaked a bit. I have the third waiting on my shelf, and a review will be posted sometime this month :D