Recently we reviewed a book about the Sherlock Holmes stories and a Sherlock Holmes spinoff. This is another spinoff, geared towards later elementary or middle school readers. The Missing Heirs is Book 4 in The Sherlock Files series.
Xena and Xander Holmes are descendants of Sherlock (Don’t you know he married?). Their friend Andrew Watson is a descendant of you-know-who (He did marry). With some adults, these kids are members of SPFD, the Society for the Preservation of Famous Detectives. They solve mysteries.
Xander and Xena are Americans living in London where they attend an international boarding school. One of their schoolmates is Alice Banders, the heir apparent to the throne of Borogovia. Her nanny is Miss Mimsy, so, yes, we are to think of Alice in Wonderland. (“All mimsy were the borogoves”; “the frumious bandersnatch”). Well, Doyle himself did something similar when he wrote of the ocean liner Ruritania in homage to The Prisoner of Zenda.
Alice knows that the Holmes siblings have a reputation as detectives and asks them for help. They do not have an occasion to go over Alice’s problem in detail when she is kidnapped from her mansion in London. The mansion has been owned by Borogovia for over a hundred years. It is technically a private residence but is known for very curious trompe l’oeil (optical illusion) paintings on some of its walls.
To solve the kidnapping, Xena and Xander refer to some old files of Sherlock Holmes. These files contain not only successful Holmes cases (such as “The Adventure of the Norwood Builder”—hint, hint—not The Sign of the Four) but also unsolved cases including a strange kidnapping of a Borogovian princess in 1894. The child was returned in a few months without a ransom payment or any explanation. Still ancestor Sherlock did not think that the case was closed.
These kid detectives do some homage to Sherlock, though at this level, readers may be ready to read the originals. Still, for young mystery lovers, this may be just the thing.