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Monday, 9 September 2019

Review: Enola Holmes: Book 5 - The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline

Book 5 of the scintillating mystery/adventure series featuring the fantastic heroine Enola Holmes is again full of humour and the unexpected. 

Enola is a fearless feminist; an inspiring free spirit fighting to hold onto the life she has chosen for herself. 

The plot is dense and thrilling. The information seeps into the story in a slow soak that creates delighted anticipation. The language is a delicious smorgasbord of long lost language.

It is now 1889, London. Enola’s deaf landlady Mrs Tupper receives a threatening cryptic letter, demanding she hand over something she knows nothing about. 

By now, the elderly woman has worked out that Enola is much more than she seems, having seen her come and go at all hours in her many disguises. She begs Enola to uncover the mysterious meaning of the letter and shares her life story with her.

As a young bride, she had gone with her businessman husband, to Scutari in Turkey, amidst the Crimean War. Alone and destitute after he was killed, she was given help to escape to safety by a Lady with the Lamp as she was then known.

The following day Mrs Tupper is abducted, and her hovel of a house ransacked. Enola sets out to find her and decipher the meaning of the cryptic letter.

Enola thrives on challenge. With her usual intelligent methodology, she writes down and deconstructs all the clues available to her. She also draws images of the people she has seen that may be connected in any way to the case.

What are the kidnappers after? And how is the letter connected to Florence Nightingale who Enola believed to be dead, but is still alive and well. How is she connection to this mystery? And then there is the embroidery on Mrs Tupper’s dress. What role does it play if any?

A meeting with the famous woman changes the course of the investigation. Brothers Sherlock and Mycroft are on Enola’s trail as always, while the young girl’s abilities to solve mysteries surpass those of Sherlock. She has had no word from her missing mother.

All the books in the series can be read individually, but the backstory of Enola’s life and the slow but impressive transition in thought experienced by her brothers, is lost if the whole series is not read in sequence.

Powerful images of the wounded soldiers accompany the settings and historical details of the Crimean War of 1855. Emphasis is placed on how women were regarded and treated in that era. This remains the central underlying theme in this series.

Title: Enola Holmes: Book 5 - The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline
Author: Nancy Springer
Publisher: Allen & Unwin, $14.99
Publication Date: April 2019
Format: Paperback
For ages: 12+
Type: Middle Grade Fiction

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