Author: Leah Scheier
Published June 26th 2012 by Hyperion Book CH
Inquisitive and observant, Dora dreams of escaping her aristocratic country life to solve mysteries alongside Sherlock Holmes. So when she learns that the legendary detective might be her biological father, Dora jumps on the opportunity to travel to London and enlist his help in solving the mystery of her cousin’s ransomed love letters. But Dora arrives in London to devastating news: Sherlock Holmes is dead. Her dreams dashed, Dora is left to rely on her wits—and the assistance of an attractive yet enigmatic young detective—to save her cousin’s reputation and help rescue a kidnapped heiress along the way.Dora Joyce has always been a bit different than she is expected to be. She is expected to be a lady and learn all the things a lady must in order to enter society. However, Dora has never wished to be a lady in society because Dora longs for adventure. She has a quick wick, a scrutinizing eye, and an analytical mind. Things no lady should dare express. So, when Dora's mother passes away and leaves her a note telling her that her father was not the man who raised her but the greatest detective of all time, Sherlock Holmes, Dora's habits start to make sense. Now, Dora knows her purpose in life. She must meet Sherlock Holmes and join him in solving crimes.
Steeped in Victorian atmosphere and intrigue, this gripping novel heralds the arrival of a fresh new voice in young adult literature.
Dora's dreams of working with her real father are sidelined, though. When her parents died, Dora was left in the care of her aunt, a lady who will not tolerate such notions as a young woman being a detective. So, when Dora's Cousin Adelaide seeks the help of Sherlock Holmes in finding some letters that were stolen and are now being used to blackmail her with, Dora jumps at the chance to meet her father. Upon arriving in London with Adelaide, Dora sneaks away to find Detective Holmes only to find that he is dead. Her grief is overwhelming causing her to faint in the street. Upon waking Dora finds herself "rescued" by a young man named Peter Cartwright. He once worked with Sherlock Holmes and offers Dora and Adelaide assistance in solving their case. Peter works with another detective Mr. Porter, who pales in comparison to the great Holmes. However, Adelaide must retrieve her letters, so to Mr. Porter they turn.
Porter hands their case over to Peter because there are other matters the detective feels that are of greater importance. Peter, in Dora's opinion, is capable but insufferable. He constantly is in a battle of wits with her because he too has the ability to detect and analyze. Dora has never met anyone who encourages her to express her abilities, so while he is annoying, Peter is also intriguing to her. The two band together in a scheme to recover Adelaide's letters. They, of course, trick Adelaide by telling her Dora will be staying with someone for her safety because Adelaide is of a similar mind as Dora's aunt. No lady should partake in an investigation. It's just not done! At the same time, Peter and Dora are also trying to locate a missing heiress. A case which intertwines with the case of Adelaide's stolen letters. The missing lady's case has been taken on by Mr. Porter with Peter assisting, but again Porter is incompetent. So, it's Peter and Dora on the case.
Secret Letters is a fascinating read. Any Sherlock Holmes fan will be disappointed by his being dead in the tale, but will enjoy the spirit of analysis so like his throughout the story. Dora proves herself to truly be his daughter with her bravery and quick wit; however, her father's identity is something she keeps to herself throughout the novel. There are twists and turns, as any good mystery has, and an ending that hints at a possible sequel which will be very much anticipated. Secret Letters is a definite must read!
*reviewed by Casie, YA @ Cpl. J. R. Searcy Memorial Library