Children’s Fiction of 2008: The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets by Nancy Springer

The scene opens in the first chapter of this Victorian mystery on a man mistakenly confined in a London insane asylum. The man claims to be Dr. John Watson, but no one believes him. One of my children tells me that insane asylums, or mental hospitals as they are called nowadays, are his greatest fear. I think this book would scare him silly —even though it’s perfectly appropriate for the middle school audience to whom it is directed.

As I read further, I realized that The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets was a Sherlock Holmes take off.This book is the third in the Enola Holmes series of Victorian mysteries by author Nancy Springer. I’m quite tempted to look for the first two in the series, The Case of the Missing Marquess and The Case of the Left-handed Lady, and recommend them to Brown Bear Daughter.

Enola, the eponymous heroine of the mystery, is the much younger sister of Mycroft and Sherlock, and as the story progresses we find that she is in hiding from her officious brothers who want to educate her and make her marriageable. Enola is not interested in marriage. Her ambition is to be the world’s first and only real private consulting Scientific Perditorian. (I don’t know what a perditorian is either. Perhaps it is explained in the first two books in the series —in which, I gather, Enola disguises herself as a secretary to a fake scientific perditorian?) At any rate, she has an old friendship with Dr. Watson, and when he turns up missing, Enola is determined to find out what has happened to him in spite of her need to hide from her meddling older brothers.

Sherlock Holmes fans should eat this up, and other mystery fans, especially girls who want an intrepid female detective with whom to identify, should find it fun and satisfying, too. I had a friend, W., back in junior high who would have called herself Enola and taken up writing fan fiction if this series had been available back then. W. was quite the Sherlock Holmes fan. In fact, I’m wondering if my friend, whom I haven’t heard from in a while, could have married and changed her first name to Nancy.

Nah. . . but it would make a good story for the next installment in The Enola Holmes Mysteries. Enola disguises herself as Nancy so that she can write and publish accounts of her adventures without hindrance from Victorian male family members who think she ought to marry and act like a lady.

5 thoughts on “Children’s Fiction of 2008: The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets by Nancy Springer

  1. I’ve read the first two (need to review both — I’m hopelessly behind!) and LOVED them. My first thought after I finished The Missing Marquess was, “Where were these books when I was 13?!”

  2. This looks like fun. I’m attracted to the book cover because of the FONT used for the title if that isn’t pathetic enough. It sounds like it might be a series for younger readers akin to the Mary Russell books by Laurie King. Would you say that’s the case?

  3. If by younger readers you mean middle school age (11-15 or so), then that’s the age group. The vocabulary is fairly advanced, and there are some grisly scenes, such as a character who had parts of her face gnawed off by rats when she was an infant. Standard Victorian nastiness. No sexual content or language that I remember, but some violence.

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