Enola Holmes, the much younger sister of Sherlock, is now living independently in London and working as a scientific perditorian (a finder of persons and things). But that is not the normal lot of young women in Victorian England. They are under the near absolute control of their nearest male relative until adulthood. Such is the case of Enola’s friend, Lady Cecily Alastair. Twice before Enola has rescued Lady Cecily from unpleasant designs of her caddish father, Sir Eustace Alastair, Baronet. And when Enola is brusquely turned away at the door of the Alastair home it soon becomes apparent that Lady Cecily once again needs her help.
Affecting a bold escape, Enola takes Lady Cecily to her secret office only to be quickly found by the person hired by Lady Cecily’s mother to find the missing girl – Sherlock Holmes himself. But the girl has already disappeared again, now loose on her own in the unforgiving city of London.
Even worse, Lady Cecily has a secret that few know. She has dual personalities – one, which is left-handed, is independent and competent; the other, which is right-handed, is meek and mild. Now Enola must find Lady Cecily again – before one of her personalities gets her into more trouble than she can handle and before Sherlock can find her and return her to her father. Once again, for Enola, the game is afoot.
I have been a fan of the Enola Holmes books since before my own kids—now teens—were born. The original six audiobooks, narrated by the incomparable Katherine Kellgren, were nothing short of perfection. The original series ended on an upbeat note, but the development of the Netflix movies led to all new novels.
This book features the return of Lady Cecily, who has appeared in several of the earlier novels and become somewhat of a friend to Enola. Once again, Lady Cecily is trying to avoid her parents’ plans of marriage, and it’s up to Enola to help her friend achieve the independence she craves.
Enola employs her usual tricks of cunning disguises and finding patterns in what might appear to be disparate circumstances. She receives assistance in this endeavor by her brother Sherlock, although the latter is somewhat begrudging about the matter—or perhaps Enola has finally worn him down.
The mystery is satisfying, with a great deal of twists and turns. It reveals some of the more sordid elements of Victorian London, although it should be noted that they are not too sordid for the target audience of tween readers.
Enola, who is always quick to point out that her name is an anagram for the word “alone”, grows closer to those around her, although she would never admit to something so maudlin. She is a most delightful protagonist: loyal to a fault and always doggedly pursuing justice, even at the risk of her own safety.
I would absolutely recommend Enola Holmes and the Elegant Escapade. I do think that readers would benefit from reading the earlier books with Lady Cecily so that they can fully appreciate her backstory and the development of her character arc, although familiarity with the series through watching the movies would suffice. I hope there are a great deal more Enola Holmes books in the future.
I received a digital ARC of this book from St. Martins/NetGalley