Death Cloud Review
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Unabridged Audiobook: 6 CDs (7 hours)
Read by Dan Weyman

Sherlock Holmes is hotter than ever, with authors and filmmakers delving into the character’s story, his roots, and the effects he’s had on popular culture. Now, in his first Young Sherlock Holmes mystery, Death Cloud, author Andrew Lane shares the fun with younger audiences as he explores the character’s youth—along with the acquaintances and experiences that turned him into a beloved and world-famous detective.

After another year away at boarding school, 14-year-old Sherlock Holmes is looking forward to a vacation at home with his family. Instead, his father is called away to India with the military, and Sherlock is forced to spend the summer with his stodgy old uncle and flighty aunt.

Sherlock is dreading spending the long summer with nothing to do until he meets Matty, an orphaned boy who quickly becomes his friend. Sherlock doesn’t even mind that his older brother, Mycroft, has arranged for him to spend the summer working with Amyus Crowe as his tutor—because the mysterious American is a fascinating man (almost as fascinating as his outspoken daughter, Virginia).

The summer soon goes from quiet to deadly, though, when Sherlock and Amyus discover the body of a man who looks like he died of the plague. Curious to learn more, Sherlock begins to investigate the man’s death—and it leads him to a treacherous plot that could put thousands of lives at risk.

Death Cloud is a sneaky little young adult mystery that will pique young listeners’ interest—and it may even teach them a thing or two along the way. Author Andrew Lane pays close attention to detail—not only to the minute details of the mystery but also to the interesting little details that surround Sherlock in his everyday life. Lane paints a fascinating picture of life in 1860s England—of the cities, the countryside, the schools, and the fairs. But he also throws in lessons about logic and reasoning, as well as some interesting little tidbits of trivia about things like bees and plant life (often courtesy of Sherlock’s unconventional tutor, Amyus Crowe).

Though the story has a few moments that are surprisingly violent (and sometimes rather gruesome, too), it’s also filled with action and adventure—the kind that will even hold the attention of easily bored pre-teen boys. And it doesn’t hurt that Dan Weyman’s narration gives the story even more attention-grabbing energy.

The characters, meanwhile, make the story even more fun. Sherlock isn’t the clever, confident sleuth that he eventually becomes as an adult. He’s hesitant and inexperienced, yet he’s naturally curious—which ends up getting him into all sorts of challenging (and even deadly) situations. Throw in resourceful vagabond Matty and pretty tomboy Virginia—and even Amyus Crowe (who’s way cooler than the average teacher)—and you’ve got a fun cast of characters that will keep kids coming back for more.

Though the mystery itself is somewhat perplexing, the action, adventure, and lovable characters make Death Cloud an entertaining audiobook. And since it leaves some fascinating questions unanswered, listeners will be eager to hear more from these daring young sleuths. So if you’re heading out on a family road trip this spring, pick up a copy of Death Cloud to keep your young travelers occupied during travel time.

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