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The Secret Fiend: The Boy Sherlock Holmes, His Fourth Case Hardcover – May 11, 2010

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 820L (What's this?)
  • Series: The Boy Sherlock Holmes (Book 4)
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Tundra Books; First Edition edition (May 11, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0887768539
  • ISBN-13: 978-0887768538
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #719,121 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"The first intriguing volume in an ambitious new series ... plenty of readers will ... find themselves irresistibly drawn into his thrilling adventures."
Booklist, Starred Review

"This is an exciting mystery, well written and fast paced...."
School Library Journal

"This novel is written for the young adult, but adult readers will also find it satisfying.... The fast-paced adventure is a treat."
The Globe and Mail

About the Author

SHANE PEACOCK was born in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and grew up in Kapuskasing. A biographer, journalist, and screenwriter, he is also the author of several novels and plays. He has received many honors for his writing, including the Arthur Ellis Award for Eye of the Crow, the first of the Boy Sherlock Holmes series. Shane Peacock lives with his wife and three children near Cobourg, Ontario.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By S. H. on May 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Like the other reviewer, I think this may be the best in the series so far. In this series, Sherlock Holmes is a poor, half-Jewish boy living, more or less, on the streets of London. In earlier books, Holmes' beloved mother has been killed, and Holmes has found a home with an eccentric apothecary. It is from this man that Holmes learns much that will make Holmes into the man we know.
In this story, Holmes finds himself attracted to, and confused by, two very pretty young women - one is poor, like himself, and the other wealthy, and too mature for her age. We learn more about Holmes' nemesis, who calls himself Malefactor, confirming suspicions about this young man's real identity. We also see Holmes' friendship with the young Lestrade growing into a type of mutual respect. Most importantly, we see Holmes going from boy to man.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story, as I have others in this series. I look forward to more.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nicola Mansfield on August 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Reason for Reading: Next in the Series.

Shane Peacock has made it to the 4th book in this series and in my opinion the best one so far. I've been consistently rating the books a 4/5, knowing that Mr. Peacock had something more to give that was waiting for my full five rating and "The Secret Fiend" fits the bill. Oh, the case is a bit out there but then some of Doyle's cases were also so I won't hold that against an author who can hold it all together.

Sherlock, who has decided to wait until he has become a man to resume detecting, has been spending his time on his studies: academic, mental and physical, when a very close friend from childhood, Beatrice, arrives at his door saying she and a friend have been attacked. She tells a wild tale and will he come and help find her friend. One thing leads to another and Sherlock decides that this time the case has chosen him and he takes it on. Apparently, all over the East Side of London a figure who may be (or is just dressed like) the legendary character Spring-Heeled Jack is on the loose frightening women, leaving notes about chaos and finally seems to be the culprit in a gruesome murder.

Sherlock is older now, at 14 years-old his studies are quite academic and he sees his future ahead of him, but unfortunately feelings keep getting in his way, interfering with logical deduction. So he continues to struggle with giving up personal feelings. Holmes' character has grown very much over the four books where he is now poised on the edge of the Sherlock Holmes character we know from the source.

Peacock presents us with a fast-paced, action packed, atmospheric and at times dark mystery.
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Format: Hardcover
I was intrigued with the idea of a seris of juvenile novels based on the young Sherlock Holmes, since Sir Arthur Conan Doyle provided virtually no background for his greatest literary creation, it is fertile ground. Generally this series, while aimed at youth/teen readers is well written and compelling and an intriguing "alternative reality" to the literary canon character.

However, like so many other modern pastiche writers, Peacock has fallen into the regrettable habit of peppering his narrative with characters "borrowed" from other literary sources and some from pesudo-real life. Early on Peacock introduces us to Andrew and Irene Doyle--who figure promimently as a philanthropist and his daughter--why the author felt the need to use the name of the creator of Holmes, albeit in altered form is mystifying except as a pretty conceit, and one he cannot forbear from exercising in subsequent volumes.

Another example is the apothecary Trigestimus Sigerson Bell, who becomes young Sherlock's "foster parent" is introduced in book two and continues into this volume. His surname taken from ACD's own mentor and inspiration for Holmes, Dr. Joseph Bell quite obviously (the Sigerson is from canon, the name of the Norwegian Explorer Holmes travels as during the Great Hiatus). In "Secret Fiend" Bell takes a more active role in the novel than he has in the prior two volumes he's appeared in. Bell is an interesting if somewhat fantastical and farcical character and is presented as a major influence on the boy who will become the Great Detective. The real Joseph Bell was a fascinating historical figure in his own right, and actually deserves better introduction into youth Holmesian pastiche than his counterpart in this series.
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Format: Hardcover
This is the fourth book in Shane Peacock's incredibly rich and wonderful series about Sherlock Holmes as he developed during his youth. The story in this case concerns a "fiend" known as the Spring-Heeled Jack. The Spring-Heeled Jack originated in actual claimed sightings in 1837, and eventually evolved into a kind of bogeyman of cheap Victorian serial tabloid fiction. The case begins after a childhood friend (Beatrice) of Sherlock is attacked by this "fiend". She becomes a new love interest for Sherlock, as something of a foil to Irene Doyle, who of course appears again in this novel.

We see in this novel a further development of the close relationship between Sherlock and his mentor, Bell the apothecary. Indeed, there are fascinating secrets about Bell that are revealed as the story unfolds. But it is Sherlock's continuing nemesis whose development steals the show in this book. I don't wish to include spoilers so let it suffice to say that it becomes very clear by the end of the book the direction in which Peacock is going to take this central figure of the series.

The otherwise wonderful story in the book is blemished by an unfortunate reference to Chaos Theory (in the mathematical sense), which was not formulated until 1961.

While the first three books were relatively tame in this regard, there is sufficient suggested and apparent violence in this fourth book that I would not recommend it for children younger than the target age group (10 and up).

I found this fourth case to be the most interesting and exciting of the books so far. I am eagerly awaiting the next installment in what I think is the most exciting series since Harry Potter.
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