Before he became the famous Sherlock Holmes, he was ... the teenage Sherlock Holmes. Death Cloud by Andrew Lane launches a new "origins" series about the sleuth, in which Sherlock is a 14-year-old boy who finds himself on summer break from his English boarding school. He's lonely, forced to stay with peculiar relatives in the countryside, and shy with girls. He's not even a particularly good detective. All that changes when he makes friends with a streetwise local boy and together they stumble upon a plot to bring down the British Empire. Sherlock is lucky to be assigned an American tutor for the summer who also happens to be a former bounty hunter and government agent with an attractive daughter just Sherlock's age. In the ensuing pages, Sherlock learns about friendship, spycraft, deduction and romance. The book has a rather slow start, but quickly gains steam as the stakes increase. The story relies a bit too much on chance encounters and convenient plot twists, but everything works out in a sunny English way, leaving us ready for the next installment.
Recommended by David Healey