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The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets: An Enola Holmes Mystery Hardcover – January 31, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Intriguing bits of Victorian social history mix with unnerving suspense in the latest Enola Holmes mystery. Enola, the younger sister of Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes, has refused to take on the traditional role of a young lady preparing for marriage. Instead, she lives by her wits, working as a “perditorian,” a finder of the lost. In this caper, Dr. Watson has gone missing, and Enola bends her considerable deductive skills to finding him. She has an advantage over her famous brother Sherlock because she knows can understand the malevolent meanings contained in the bouquets sent to Mrs. Watson. Grades 6-9. --Connie Fletcher


Enola is a delightful character, with a wry voice that is uniquely hers. Move over, Sherlock. -School Library Journal, starred review

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 1080L (What's this?)
  • Series: An Enola Holmes Mystery (Book 3)
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Philomel Books; First Edition edition (January 31, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399245189
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399245183
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,647,971 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

"Conform, go crazy, or become an artist." I have a rubber stamp declaring those words, and they pretty much delineate my life. Conforming was the thing to do when I was raised, in the fifties. Even my mother, who spent her days painting animal portraits at an easel in the corner of the kitchen, tried to conform via housecleaning, bridge parties, and a new outfit every spring. My father, who was born into a British-mannered Protestant family in southern Ireland, emigrated to America as a young man and idolized the "melting pot" because at last he fit in. Once in a rare while he recited "The Ballad of Reading Gaol" or told a tale of a leprechaun, but most of the time he was an earnest naturalized American who expected exemplary behavior of his children. My mother was a charming Pollyanna who would not entertain negative sentiments in herself or anyone around her. As their only girl and the baby of the family, I was coddled, yet hardly ever got a chance to be other than excruciatingly good.

My "conform" phase lasted right into adulthood. When I was thirteen, my parents bought a small motel near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and I spent most of my teen years helping them make beds and clean rooms. I did not date until I went to college -- Gettysburg College, all of seven miles from home. it was the height of the sixties, and I grew my hair long, but eschewed pot, protests, and "happenings." Instead, I married a preacher's son who was himself conforming by studying for the ministry. Within a few years I was Rev. Springer's wife, complete with offspringers, living in a country parsonage in southern York County, PA.

Here beginneth the "go crazy" phase.

Because I had never been allowed any negative emotions, I began to hear "voices" in my head. First they whispered "divorce" (not permissible), and later they hissed "suicide". They scared me silly. I couldn't sleep; images of knives and torture floated in front of my eyes even during the daytime; something roared like an animal inside my ears; my wrists hurt; I saw blood seeping out of the walls; panic jolted me like a cattle goad out of nowhere. Is it necessary to add that I was clinically depressed? The doctor gave me Valium and sent me to a shrink. The shrink took me off the Valium and told me I had a problem with anger. (No duh.) The next doctor zombied me on the numbing antidepressants which were available at that time. The next shrink said I had an adjustment problem. And so on, for several years, during which I somehow managed to stay alive, take care of my kids, handle the vagaries of my husband, sew clothing and grow vegetables to get by financially, cook, can preserves, show up at church, do mounds of laundry and publish "The White Hart" and "The Silver Sun"--yet not one of the doctors of shrinks ever suggested that I might be a strong person, let alone a writer. All of them were intent on "helping" poor little me "adjust" to being a housewife, mother, and pastor's wife.

Eventually I became resigned to the fact (as I perceived it) that I was an evil, sinful person with horrible things going on inside my head, and I stopped trying to fix me. I stopped going to doctors or therapists. Somehow I found courage--or desperation--to stop trying to conform or adjust or live a role.

"I am going to start taking an hour or two first thing in the morning to do my writing," I said to my husband.

"Fine," he said. He had reached the point where he would agree with whatever to humor the neurotic wife; to him it was just another of my brain farts. But to me it was the most important sentence I ever spoke. With that statement I stopped being a housewife who sometimes stole time to write, and I started being a writer.

Conform, go crazy--or become an artist.

By becoming a writer--by becoming who I truly was--I became well.

It was so simple. Although it did take years, of course; it takes a long time for good things to grow. Trees. Books. Me. Odd thing about books; they not only nourish growth but show it happening. In "The Black Beast, The Golden Swan" and many other of my early novels, you can see me dealing with the yang/yin nature of good and evil, struggling to accept my own shadow. In "Chains of Gold" and "The Hex Witch of Seldom" I start writing as a woman, no longer identifying only with male main characters. In a number of children's books I come to terms with my own childhood. And in "Apocalypse"--whoa, what a fierce, dark fantasy novel, the first thing I wrote after my income from writing enabled my husband to leave the ministry. I hadn't thought of myself as repressed when I was a pastor's wife, but obviously something broke loose when I shed that role. "Larque on the Wing"--whoa again, another breakthrough book that spiraled straight out of my muddled middle-aged psyche and took me places I'd never dreamed were in me.

It's been a long time since those days when I thought I was an evil person. I know better now, and I love and trust me even to the extent of writing "Fair Peril"--a more perilous novel than I knew at the time, interfacing all too closely with my life. Written two years before the fact, it foresees my husband's infidelity and my divorce. The most painful irony I've ever faced is that once I gained my selfhood, I lost my lifelong partner. He had supported me through episodes that would have sent most men screaming and running, but once I became well and strong, he transferred his loyalty to a skinny, neurotic waif all to similar to the young woman I once was. After supporting him through twenty-seven years of stinky socks, automotive yearnings, miscellaneous foibles, and the career change that put him where she could cry on his shoulder, I found this a bit hard to take. But I wouldn't go back to being Ms. Pitiful. Not for anything.

Now married to a rather remarkable second husband, after living 46 years in Pennsylvania I moved in 2007 to the Florida panhandle, where I spent a year living in a small apartment above the aforementioned husband's hangar in an exceedingly rural (swamps, egrets, snakes and alligators) airport. Now we have a real house about a mile from the airport on higher ground featuring tremendously tall longleaf pine trees with rattlesnakes and scorpions underneath them. Life is an adventure and I mean that sincerely.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on February 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Heaves above, how I love these books! Sorry. That's not something a professional reviewer should start off by saying is it? I should probably be coy about my opinions. I should couch my language with faint praise saying sniffy little things like, "It seems that Ms. Springer has truly found an oeuvre that will suit some out there". My review would nod its head at her other books and series and then end with constructive criticism along the lines of, "Certainly children in search of mysteries will have no problems with Ms. Springer's popular choices." Well, forget it. I can't be all detached and restrained when I'm talking about Enola Holmes. The fact of the matter is that I can't get enough of her. From the minute I read her first story The Case of the Missing Marquess: An Enola Holmes Mystery, I was hooked. Now we're on Enola's third caper, The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets, and things are heating up. Whether you've been reading these books faithfully from the start, or have just dropped into this series without seeing its predecessors, this is one Enola Holmes mystery that is bound to mystify, confound, and delight.

A lot has changed for Enola Holmes in the last few months, but one thing certainly hasn't. She's still on the run from her older brothers Mycroft and Sherlock and she still needs to keep them at bay until she comes of age and can legally live on her own. Of course there's the small problem that she's been making her living by posing as the secretary of a detective, but now her cover's been blown and she needs to figure out what to do with herself. Top it all off with her sudden fear that her mother doesn't love her and Enola's in a pretty deep funk.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By KidsReads on August 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Without the wig --- and without the inserts I used to round out my cheeks and nostrils --- I was a sharp-faced, hawk-nosed, sallow-skinned female version of my brother Sherlock.

Indeed --- although I knew the undertaking would involve a tremendous amount of work --- I would disguise myself in the last way that either Sherlock or Mycroft could possibly ever envision.

I would be beautiful.

The little sister of Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes is no fool. She will not allow her brothers to put her in some finer institution for young ladies to be transformed "via singing lessons and similar vapors, into an ornament for genteel society." Based on the fact that she is female and without rights, they could force her into a boarding school, a convent or even an asylum. Instead, Enola (which backwards spells "alone") chooses to continue life on her own terms --- independent, inquisitive, bright, ready for adventures and definitely "alone." Being a young woman in the 1890s puts her at the mercy of society and her well-intentioned brothers. No thank you very much!

When she reads that the beloved Dr. Watson (Sherlock's partner and popular author of all those Sherlock stories) is nowhere to be found, Enola springs into action. She has managed to find missing people before, and this is an especially important challenge. Officially, she considers herself to be a Perditorian, "a professional seeker of missing persons." Having managed to solve other mysteries --- such as the ones in THE CASE OF THE MISSING MARQUESS and THE CASE OF THE LEFT-HANDED LADY --- she sets about deciding on a disguise (something Sherlock unwittingly taught her) and a name. They would never recognize her mousiness behind the blond wig and frills.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sunshine on a Rainy Day on November 17, 2014
Format: Paperback
This is book three in the Enola Holmes mystery series. In this installment, Dr. Watson has been kidnapped and sent to an insane asylum under a false name. No one can find him, but Enola is determined to be the best people finder in London and sets out to do what not even her brother Sherlock has succeeded at.

In book two, I was terribly disappointed because Enola spent a lot of time whining about her self inflicted situation and was not using her vast intelligence to solve her problems. In this book, Enola pulls herself up by the bootstraps and says get over yourself. She then works to reinvent her false identity in order to continue to solve crimes while eluding her brothers. This book is shorter than the first two and is a faster read. Enola has not learned anything new to help in her "profession." She is still using the language of the flowers to solve her cases and she keeps burning her bridges. She has yet to mature as a character.

Again, there is much to disturb the young reader. The vile descriptions of the people on the street, the excessive gruesomeness of the villain, and the men following her on the street because they think she is for sale. Enola is a fourteen year old girl who is abandoned by her mother and ends up living on her own in the slums.

This book is advertized as a junior novel for grades 3-7! These topics are in no way appropriate for a 3rd grader or any elementary student for that matter. If this were a movie, it would be rated PG-13 at least. I would love to see this series reclassified as Young Adult. It is written at about the 7th grade reading level too.

I would recommend this book for ages 12 and up. It is an interesting mystery for older readers.
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