Title: Jewel of the Thames
Author: Angela Misri
Series: A Portia Adams Adventure
Summary (from Goodreads)
Nineteen-year-old Portia Adams has always been inquisitive. There’s nothing she likes better than working her way through a mystery. When her mother dies, Portia puzzles over why she was left in the care of the extravagant Mrs. Jones but doesn’t have long to dwell on it before she is promptly whisked from Toronto to London by her new guardian. Once there Portia discovers that she has inherited 221 Baker Street — the former offices of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.
Portia settles into her new home and gets to know her downstairs tenants, including the handsome and charming Brian Dawes. She also finds herself entangled in three cases: the first involving stolen jewelry, the second a sick judge and the final case revolving around a kidnapped child. But the greatest mystery of all is her own. How did she come to inherit this townhouse? And why did her mother keep her heritage from her? Portia has a feeling Mrs. Jones knows more than she is letting on. In fact, she thinks her new guardian may be the biggest clue of all.
Received for review from the publisher
Sherlock Holmes is a bit trendy at the moment. From the popular BBC production to Andrew Lane’s adventures of Young Sherlock Holmes, there’s a lot of alternative content out there, interpreting, adding to, and – dependent on your point of view – enriching the cannon of the world’s greatest detective.
Misri takes a slightly different approach. Her Sherlock Holmes story isn’t actually centred around Holmes – rather Portia Adams, a young, recently orphaned Canadian girl who is surprised to learn that her grandfather was John Watson. Whisked away to London by a mysterious benefactor, her genes soon out and she finds herself involved in London’s unsolvable cases.
What follows is an enjoyable romp through 1930s London, with Portia learning to navigate her knew life as much as her newly developing skills. The cases are suitably Holmesian, with clues peppered throughout, but not so much as to be obvious, or so little as to be annoying. Solving them before Portia did rely on knowledge of the time and place at times, which I didn’t have, but the solutions were never so out there they left me feeling cheated.
It was a little slow to get started – Portia spends a long time going to school and meeting people before she really gets her teeth into her cases – and secondary characters are drawn with broad strokes, rarely filled in with any colour or detail. Not that it particularly matters – Portia is such a likeable lead, she more than makes up for the two dimensionality of her supporting cast.
Portia’s intelligence and induction skills make her interesting, but her vulnerability, her uncertainty about her path now her mother has died, make her relatable and endearing in a way that previous residents of 221 Baker Street sometimes weren’t. As a lead, she has real potential to carry several novels, and with the set up done and dusted, I can only imagine a second Portia Adams adventure would take the set up to new heights.
This post was part of the Jewel of the Thames Blog Tour.