Fire Storm (Sherlock Holmes: The Legend Begins Series #4)
  • Fire Storm (Sherlock Holmes: The Legend Begins Series #4)
  • Fire Storm (Sherlock Holmes: The Legend Begins Series #4)

Fire Storm (Sherlock Holmes: The Legend Begins Series #4)

4.7 4
by Andrew Lane

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In Fire Storm by Andrew Lane, young Sherlock's friend and her father have vanished. Their house looks as if nobody has ever lived in it; the neighbors claim never to have heard of them. Sherlock begins to doubt his sanity, until a clever clue points him to Scotland. Following that clue leads him into a mystery that involves kidnapping, bodysnatchers, and a

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In Fire Storm by Andrew Lane, young Sherlock's friend and her father have vanished. Their house looks as if nobody has ever lived in it; the neighbors claim never to have heard of them. Sherlock begins to doubt his sanity, until a clever clue points him to Scotland. Following that clue leads him into a mystery that involves kidnapping, bodysnatchers, and a man who claims he can raise the dead. Only the budding detective Sherlock can untangle the mind-bending--and dangerous--puzzles that ensnare his friends. Think you know Sherlock Holmes? Think again!

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
The teenage Sherlock solves mysteries about two different housekeepers and faces up to a vicious sociopath in this sequel to Black Ice (2013). In the marketplace, Sherlock overhears two strangers talking about finding his mentor and his daughter, Amyus and Virginia Crowe. Believing that the Crowes may need help, Sherlock and his friend Matty go to their home, only to find the house empty. There is, however, a clue that sends Sherlock and Matty, accompanied by the violinist Rufus Stone, off to Edinburgh. Sherlock initiates the action in this caper, not one of the adults, exhibiting his growth and integration of their teaching. Historical Edinburgh and its looming castle reinforce the sense of foreboding created by the story's events. The narrative resolves nicely with a breathtaking ending that involves men with crossbows and a grizzly bear. The denouement indicates that the next installment of this winning series begins right after Sherlock returns from Edinburgh. This rewarding mystery/adventure novel has it all: great characters, a fearsome villain, a generous ration of suspense and hints of romance. Fans of the previous books will devour it; new readers to the series will have no problem diving in. (Adventure/mystery. 13-17)
Children's Literature - Jennifer Greene
Sherlock Holmes, with his legendary mind and misanthropic personality, is one of the most iconic, yet enigmatic characters of our time. What events transpired in his past to make him the character he becomes? How did he hone his detective process and develop his guiding principles? With Fire Storm, book four of the young adult mystery “Sherlock Holmes: The Legend Begins” series, Lane has accomplished quite a feat: he has created a teen character to explain the older detective’s quirks. Lane’s Holmes is completely relatable while still being believable that he should grow into Doyle’s well-known, curt hero. Lane uses back-story details from the original stories while explaining Holmes’ attitudes toward things like music, friendship, and classism. When Sherlock discovers that the housekeeper running his uncle’s home is a treasure-seeking blackmailer in league with an evil man, he must figure out how to help his family, whatever their secret may be. With the help of his street-wise friend Matty Arnatt, Sherlock devises a plan to free all the blackmail victims. But this complete story is only the beginning of the novel. Amyus Crowe and his daughter Virginia, Sherlock’s love interest, have left town in a hurry, leaving clues for the young detective to follow them to Edinburgh. Accompanied by his teacher Rufus Stone and friend Matty, Sherlock must escape violent henchmen. Then there is the matter of the strange, skeletal figures spying on them. Finally, they must face the tattooed, sociopathic American seeking revenge in a standoff involving a man-eating bear. While the transition between the two parts (blackmail story and Edinburgh) is a little slow and convoluted, the book is quite enjoyable. Vocalizing Holmes’ internal thoughts is an interesting premise. The parallel between Holmes and the villain is also chilling and climatically well-done. Altogether this young adult novel is fun, fast-paced, and wildly entertaining. Reviewer: Jennifer Greene; Ages 14 up.

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Product Details

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
Sherlock Holmes: The Legend Begins Series, #4
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)
880L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Fire Storm

By Andrew Lane

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Copyright © 2012 Andrew Lane
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-374-32312-7


"Stop it!" Rufus Stone cried out. "You're killing me!"

Sherlock lifted the bow from the violin strings. "Don't be so melodramatic."

"I'm not being melodramatic—another few seconds of that and my heart would have leaped out of my throat and strangled me just to ensure that it didn't have to experience that cat-squalling anymore!"

Sherlock felt his confidence shrivel up like a dry autumn leaf. "I didn't think it was that bad," he protested.

"That's the problem," Stone said. "You don't know what the problem is. If you don't know what the problem is, you can't fix it."

He rubbed the back of his neck and wandered away, obviously struggling to find a way to explain to Sherlock just what he was doing wrong. He was wearing a loose striped shirt with the sleeves roughly rolled up and a waistcoat that seemed to have come from a decent suit, but his trousers were rough corduroy and his boots were scuffed leather. He swung round to look at Sherlock for a moment, and there was a kind of wild bafflement in his face, along with what Sherlock realized with a sickening twist of his heart was disappointment.

Sherlock turned away, not wanting to see that expression on the face of a man he considered a friend as well as a kind of older brother.

He let his gaze roam around the room they were in—anywhere so that he didn't have to look at Stone. They were in the attic of an old building in Farnham. Stone rented a room on the floor below, but his landlady had taken a shine to him and let him rehearse and practise his violin—and teach the one music student he had so far taken on—in the expansive attic area.

The space was large and dusty, with beams of sunlight penetrating through gaps in the tiles and forming diagonal braces that seemed to be holding the triangular roof up just as well as the wooden ones. The acoustics, according to Stone, were marginally worse than a hay barn, but considerably better than his room. There were boxes and trunks stacked around the low walls, and a hatchway off to one side that led down, via a ladder, to the upper landing. Navigating the ladder with a violin case clutched in one hand was tricky, but Sherlock liked the isolation of the attic and the sense of space.

One day, he thought, I will have my own place to live—somewhere I can retreat from the world and not be bothered. And I won't let anyone else in.

Pigeons fluttered outside, blocking the sunlight momentarily as they roosted. Cold penetrated the attic, fingers of frosty air finding their way through the spaces between the tiles.

He sighed as he opened the case. The violin felt heavy in his hand, and somehow clumsy, as if he had never picked one up before. The music stand in front of him held the score of a piece by Mozart—a violin transcription, according to Stone, of a famous aria, "The Queen of the Night," from an opera called The Magic Flute. The black notes captured between the lines of the staves were, as far as Sherlock was concerned, like a code, but it was a code he had quickly worked out—a simple substitution cipher. A black blob on that line always meant a note that sounded like this —unless there was a small hash in front of it that raised it slightly to a "sharp," or a small angular letter b that lowered it slightly to a "flat." A sharp or a flat was halfway towards the note either directly above or directly below the one he was playing. It was simple and easy to understand—so why couldn't he turn the written music into something that Rufus Stone could listen to without wincing?

Sherlock knew he wasn't progressing as quickly as Stone would have liked, and that irked him. He would have liked to have been able just to pick up the instrument and play it beautifully, first time and every time, but sadly life wasn't like that. It should be, he thought rebelliously. He remembered feeling the same way about the piano that sat in his family home. He'd spent hours sitting at it, trying to work out why he couldn't play it straightaway. After all, the thing about a piano was its relentless logic: you pressed a key and a note came out. The same key led to the same note every time. All you had to do, surely, was remember which key led to which note and you should be able to play. The trouble was, no matter how hard he had thought about it, he had never been able to sit down and play the piano like his sister could—flowing and beautiful, like a rippling stream.

Four strings! The violin had only four strings! How hard could it be?

"The problem," Stone said suddenly, turning round and staring at Sherlock, "is that you are playing the notes, not the tune."

"That doesn't make any sense," Sherlock responded defensively.

"It makes perfect sense." Stone sighed. "The trees are not the forest. The forest is all of the trees, taken together, plus the undergrowth, the animals, the birds, and even the air. Take all that away and you just have a load of wood—no feeling, no atmosphere."

"Then where does the feeling come from in music?" Sherlock asked plaintively.

"Not from the notes."

"But the notes are all that's on the paper!" Sherlock protested.

"Then add something of your own. Add some emotion."

"But how?"

Stone shook his head. "It's the small gaps you put in—the hesitations, the subtle emphases, the slight speedings up and slowings down. That's where the feeling lives."

Sherlock gestured at the music on the stand. "But that's not written on there! If the composer wanted me to speed up or slow down, then he would have written it on the music."

"He did," Stone pointed out, "in Italian. But that's only a guide. You need to decide how you want to play the music." He sighed. "The problem is that you're treating this like an exercise in mathematics, or grammar. You want all the evidence set out for you, and you think that your job is to put it all together. Music isn't like that. Music requires interpretation. It requires you to put something of yourself in there." He hesitated, trying to find the right words. "Any performance is actually a duet between you and the composer. He's given you the bulk, but you have to add the final ten percent. It's the difference between reading out a story and acting out a story." Seeing the forlorn expression on Sherlock's face, he went on: "Look, have you ever seen the writer Charles Dickens reading one of his own stories to an audience? Try it sometime—it's well worth the cost of a ticket. He does different voices for different characters, he throws himself around the stage, he speeds up at the exciting bits, and he reads it as if he's never seen it before and he's just as keen as the audience to find out what happens. That is how you should play music—as if you've never heard it before." He paused and winced. "In a good way, I mean. The trouble is that you play music as if you've never heard it before and you're trying to work it out as you're going along."

That was pretty much the way it was, Sherlock thought.

"Should I give up?" he asked.

"Never give up," Stone rejoined fiercely. "Never. Not in anything." He ran a hand through his long hair again. "Perhaps I've been going at this the wrong way. Let's take a different tack. All right, you approach music as if it's a problem in mathematics—well, let's look for musicians who write mathematics into their music."

"Are there any?" Sherlock asked dubiously.

Stone considered for a moment. "Let's think. Johann Sebastian Bach was well known for putting mathematical tricks and codes into his tunes. If you look at his Musical Offering, there are pieces in there that are mirror images of themselves. The first note and the last note are the same; the second note and the second from last note are the same; and so on, right to the middle of the piece."

"Incredible." Sherlock was amazed at the audacity of the idea. "And it still works as music?"

"Oh yes. Bach was a consummate composer. His mathematical tricks don't detract from the music—they add to it." Stone smiled, realizing that he'd finally snagged Sherlock's attention. "I'm not an expert on Bach by any means, but I understand there's another piece by him that is built around some kind of mathematical sequence, where one number leads on to the next using some rule. It's got an Italian name. Now, let's try that Mozart again, but this time, as you're playing it, I want you to bring back those feelings. Remember them, and let them guide your fingers."

Sherlock raised the violin to his shoulder again, tucking it into the gap between his neck and his chin. He let the fingers of his left hand find the strings at the end of the neck. He could feel how hard his fingertips had become under Stone's relentless tutelage. He brought the bow up and held it poised above the strings.

"Begin!" Stone said.

Sherlock gazed at the notes on the page, but rather than trying to understand them he let his gaze slide through them, looking at the page as a whole rather than each note as something individual. Looking at the forest, not the trees. He remembered from a few minutes before what the notes were, then took a deep breath and started to play.

The next few moments seemed to go past in a blur. His fingers moved from one string to the next, pressing them down to make the right notes, fractionally before his brain could send his fingers a signal to tell them what the right notes were. It was as if his body already knew what to do, freeing his mind to float above the music, looking for its meaning. He tried to think of the piece as if someone was singing it, and let his violin become the voice, hesitating on some notes, coming down heavily on others as if to emphasize their importance.

He got to the end of the page without even realizing.

"Bravo!" Stone cried. "Not perfect, but better. You actually persuaded me that you were feeling the music, not just playing it." He gazed over at the slanted rays of sunlight that penetrated the loft. "Let's stop it there: on a high note, as it were. Keep practising your scales, but also I want you to practise individual notes. Play a sustained note in different ways—with sadness, with happiness, with anger. Let the emotion seep through into the music, and see how it changes the note."

"I'm ... not good with emotion," Sherlock admitted in a quiet voice.

"I am," Stone said. "Which means I can help." He placed a hand on Sherlock's shoulder for a moment and squeezed, then took it away. "Now be off with you. Go and find that American girl and spend some time with her."

"Virginia?" His heart quickened at the thought, but he wasn't sure if it was happiness or terror that made it speed up. "But—"

"No buts. Just go and see her."

"All right," Sherlock said. "Same time tomorrow?"

"Same time tomorrow."

He returned the violin to its case and half climbed, half slid down the ladder to the upper landing, then thudded down the stairs to the ground floor. Stone's landlady—a woman of about Stone's own age, with black hair and very blue eyes—came out of the kitchen to say something as he ran past, but he didn't catch what it was. Within seconds he was out in the crisp, cold sunlight.

Farnham was as busy as it ever was: its cobbled or muddy streets filled with people heading every which way on various errands. Sherlock paused for a moment, taking in the scene—the clothes, the postures, the various packages, boxes and bags that people were carrying—and tried to make sense of it. That man over there—the one with the red rash across his forehead. He was clutching a piece of paper in his hand as if his life depended on it. Sherlock knew that there was a doctor's surgery a few minutes' walk behind him, and a pharmacy just ahead. He was almost certainly heading to pick up some medicine after his consultation. The man on the other side of the road—good clothes, but unshaven and bleary-eyed, and his shoes were scuffed and muddy. A tramp wearing a suit donated by a church parishioner, perhaps? And what of the woman who passed by right in front of him, hand held up to push the hair from her eyes? Her hands looked older than she did—white and wrinkled, as if they had spent a long time in water. A washerwoman, obviously.

Was this what Rufus Stone had meant about seeing the forest instead of the trees? He wasn't looking at the people as people, but seeing their histories and their possible futures all in one go.

For a moment Sherlock felt dizzy with the scale of what he was staring at, and then the moment was gone and the scene collapsed into a crowd of people heading in all directions.

"You all right?" a voice asked. "I thought you were going to pass out there for a moment."

Sherlock turned to find Matthew Arnatt—Matty—standing beside him. The boy was shorter than Sherlock, though the same age. For a second Sherlock didn't see him as a boy, as his friend, but as a collection of signs and indications. Just for a second, and then he was Matty again—solid, dependable Matty.

"Albert isn't well then," he said, referring to the horse that Matty owned, and which pulled the narrowboat he lived on whenever he decided to change towns.

"What makes you think that?" Matty asked.

"There's hay in your sleeve," Sherlock pointed out. "You've been feeding him by hand. Usually you just let him crop the grass wherever he happens to be tied up. You wouldn't feed a horse by hand unless you were worried he wasn't eating properly."

Matty raised an eyebrow. "Just because I sometimes likes to give him his grub," he said, "there's no need to make a song an' dance about it. Albert's the closest thing to family I got." He shrugged, embarrassed. "So I likes to treat him sometimes with something special."

"Oh." Sherlock filed that away for later consideration. "How did you know I was here?" he asked eventually.

"I could hear you playing," Matty replied laconically. "The whole town could hear you playing. I think that's why Albert's off his food."

"Funny," Sherlock observed.

"You want to go get something to eat? There's plenty of stuff going spare in the market."

Sherlock thought for a moment. Should he spend some time with Matty, or go and see Virginia?

"Can't," he said, suddenly remembering. "My uncle said he wanted me back for lunch. Something about getting me to catalogue and index a collection of old sermons he recently obtained at an auction."

"Oh joy," Matty said. "Have fun with that." He smiled. "Maybe I could go and see Virginia instead."

"And maybe I could hang you upside down from a bridge with your head underwater up to your nose," Sherlock replied.

Matty just gazed at him. "I was only joking," he said.

"I wasn't."

Sherlock noticed that Matty's gaze kept sliding away, down the road towards the market. "Go on," he said. "Go and pick up some bruised fruit and broken pies. I might see you later. Or tomorrow."

Matty flashed a quick smile of thanks and scooted away, ducking and diving through the crowd until he was lost from sight.

Sherlock walked for a while along the road that led out of Farnham and towards his aunt and uncle's house. Every time a cart came past he turned to look at the driver, but most of them avoided his gaze. He didn't take it personally—he'd been doing this for long enough that he knew the success rate was around one in twenty carts. Eventually one of the drivers looked over at him and called: "Where you going, sonny?"

"Holmes Manor," he shouted back.

"They don't take on casual labour."

"I know. I'm ... visiting someone."

"Climb aboard then. I'm going past the main gates."

As Sherlock threw his violin up the side of the still-moving cart and clambered after it, falling into a deep mass of hay, he wondered why it was that he still didn't like admitting where he lived. Perhaps he was worried that people might change their attitude if they knew that his family was part of the local land-owning gentry. It was so stupid, he thought, that something as simple as inheriting land and a house from your parents could set you apart from other people. When he grew up he would make sure that he never made social distinctions between people like that.

The cart clattered along the road for twenty minutes or so before Sherlock jumped off, calling a cheerful "Thanks!" over his shoulder. He checked his watch. He had half an hour before luncheon: just enough time to wash and perhaps change his shirt.

Luncheon was, as usual, a quiet affair. Sherlock's uncle—Sherrinford Holmes—spent his time balancing eating with reading a book and trying to move his beard out of the way of both his food and the text, while his aunt—Anna—spoke in a continuous monologue that covered her plans for the garden, how pleased she was that the two sides of the Holmes family appeared to be on speaking terms again, various items of gossip about local landowners, and her hope that the weather in the coming year would be better than the one that had just passed. Once or twice she asked Sherlock a question about what he was doing or how he was feeling, but when he tried to answer he found that she had just kept on talking regardless of what he might say. As usual.


Excerpted from Fire Storm by Andrew Lane. Copyright © 2012 Andrew Lane. Excerpted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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