Death Cloud

cover image for Death CloudLane, Andrew. (2010) Death Cloud. New York, NY: Farrar Straus Giroux

Plot Summary:

Young Sherlock Holmes is looking forward to going home after another semester away at school. Instead, he has been shipped off to his aunt and uncle’s country estate.  Sherlock resigns himself to a long summer spent in the non-bustling village of Farnham, but instead finds himself mixed up in all kinds of mysterious occurrences, from deaths of unknown origins to black clouds that seem to have a mind of their own.  Now it’s up to Sherlock to stop a plague and save the British army.

Critical Evaluation:

The flap copy highlights that this is “the first teen series endorsed by the Conan Doyle Estate,” suggesting that this particular story has something special to offer. Sadly, this is not the case.  It’s a perfectly passable story that manages to be odd enough to avoid predictability despite the plot not being terribly well thought out.  While the time spent reading it was not exactly a waste, I think most teens that might enjoy this novel would get more enjoyment out of the original stories, despite it featuring an adult rather than teen protagonist.

Readers’s Annotation:

Sherlock Holmes may be only [age] – but that doesn’t mean he’s not on the case!

Author Information:

Andrew Lane does not have a site, but the series does:



Reading Level/Target Age:

6th grade/12-16


(Wait…you aren’t supposed to book talk books you didn’t like, right? Does that mean I can skip this part? No?)

It’s tempting to use the popularity of the recent TV series in order to get teens interested in reading this particular novel, but they are very dissimilar in terms of style and I think many fans of the BBC adaptation show would be disappointed in the book if I did that.  Rather, I would focus on the more fantastic parts of the plot.

Possible Controversy:

Unless mediocre prose and absurdly unlikely plots and characters are going to start being a reason to challenge teen books, I think this title is safe.  There is violence, but nothing that stands out in comparison to the rest of young adult literature.

Reason for choosing this title:

I promise I did not read this because of Cumberbatch of Moffet, I hadn’t seen the tv show when I started reading it.  I just thought a story about a teen-aged Sherlock Holmes would be interesting and the cover looked like it was something that might catch teens’ attention.


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