Are you missing Sherlock Holmes as much as me? Does Benedict Cumberbatch’s sharp cheekbones and exasperated remarks about how dull we are all being fill your thoughts? Well my friends welcome to my problems.
While by no means the fiercest fan of Doyle’s lofty detective, I am still quite enamored of his exploits and the interpretations that have sprung up inspired by him. After all rumor has it that fanfiction for Sherlock is amongst the earliest examples of fans disagreeing with the creator and producing fan work that fits within their mindset better.
Until the new series premieres (“sometimes in 2017”) I thought every so often I’d examine one of the many adaptations that I have in my collection. If nothing else it will give me a reason to used “I am SHERlocked” right?Our first foray is into a young adult mystery series by Canadian author Angela Misri entitled “The Portia Adams Adventures”. The first book JEWEL OF THE THAMES came to my attention due to IndieGoGo – Misri’s publisher, Fierce Ink Press, was running a campaign for the print run of the JEWEL.
What caught my eye, and continues to catch my eye with each subsequent novel, was the beautiful cover design. Its elegant, eye-catching, unique and has small details that pertain to each of the mysteries contained within.
In the first novel our heroine, Portia, is confronted with a life-altering circumstance that necessitates her (mysterious) guardian Mrs. Jones to make herself known to her and to take the young Adams under her wing. Brought to London, it soon becomes apparent to Portia that things are not quite what they seem with her Guardian.
After all she’s not only moved into the infamous 221 Baker Street residence, but Mrs. Jones seems awfully insightful when it comes to other questions Portia may have. Just what is Mrs. Jones connection to Portia? Why is she both supportive of Portia’s idea to lead amateur detective cases, but oddly bitter over it as well?
Portia’s second adventure, THRICE BURNED, picks up not long after the end of JEWEL with Portia trying to deal with the revelations Mrs. Jones laid on her. One of the strengths of this series that Misri is consistent about is that Portia is by no means perfect. I don’t mean fictional character flaws most girls her age have (she’s 19/20) that are less flaws and more quirks of character, I mean actual flaws. Portia, for all the fact she is intelligent and rational, let’s her feelings sometimes get in the way.
Feelings of prejudice, of ego, of frustration and irritation. This causes her to overlook or dismiss certain critical factors at times as well as giving her some believable conflict with other characters. For instance she allows herself to be blinded to certain details in one of the cases in JEWEL, this in turn distracts her when she is working on her next case. Causing her to doubt her findings and wonder if she is indeed able to live up to the reputation the previous occupants of 221 Baker Street had.
In THRICE we see this magnified as she struggles to overcome not only her own misgivings, but also the dismissive disregard she receives from a respected acquaintance and the hard truths Mrs. Jones lays at her feet. Portia doesn’t doubt her intelligence so much as she doubts she has the ability to look beyond and understand.
The recently released third book, NO MATTER HOW IMPROBABLE, I have sitting on my nightstand to be read. I admit to a certain amount of trepidation before I read. 1) I hate waiting for each subsequent book and 2) Portia undergoes a trial in this book I understand all too well. I worry for my heart. Also I’m still a bit sore over the going-ons between her and Brian.
The Portia Adams books are fun mysteries that tie into the Sherlock Holmes mythology while still standing on their own. Misri writes with an attention to detail as well as a clever turn of phrase that helps keep the actual cases that Portia investigates from being either too simple or too hard. The cast of supportive characters prove to be just as useful (or useless depending) as Holmes himself had.
What’s in store for Portia going forward? Oh I have a feeling it’ll be something I’ll refuse to miss. Between the ongoing issues caused by the news Mrs. Jones gave her at the end of JEWEL and the tumultuous times she is living in (the 1930’s, in England, you do the math) Portia is certainly never going to be left to rest on her laurels, I assure you.