Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Case of the Missing Marquess: An Enola Holmes Mystery by Nancy Springer

Image from
Philomel Books, 2006

It’s 1888 and fifteen year old Enola Holmes lives on a large estate with her bohemian mother and just a few servants until one day her mother goes missing and Enola’s carefree life changes forever. Enola sees her much older brothers, Mycroft and the famous detective Sherlock, for the first time in many years and in the process many family secrets are revealed. Although her brother’s disparage Enola’s lack of formal education, Enola knows there’s something more to her mother’s disappearance and she sets out on an adventure complete with clues, disguises, villains, and narrow escapes. Was Enola’s mother kidnapped or is something else going on? What will she do when her brother’s send her to boarding school? And what about the missing marquess of Basilwether?

This is a great book for readers who love words and puzzles. Springer uses a rich vocabulary that evokes the time period, but not in an exclusive or standoffish way. The plot is thrilling with revelations, new clues, and red herrings around every twist in the road. This keeps the pacing quick and the anticipation high. Enola (whose first name spells another word when read backward) is a compelling protagonist and it’s wonderful to watch her change from a shy girl to a confident young woman. Readers will learn about the socio-economics of London in the 1880’s, as well as societal norms, such as clothing, manners, and the role of women in society.
*Enola’s mother loves ciphers and uses them to leave clues for her daughter. Bring in more ciphers for kids to solve or better yet, have them write ciphers for each other to decode.

*The meanings of flowers are used as clues in the book. Find out the meaning of your favorite flower or use the meanings to craft a cipher. Check out the meaning of flowers as defined by the Society of American Florists.

*What happens to Enola after she solves the case of the missing marquess? Find out by reading the other books in the Enola Holmes series:

*More chapter books for kids by Nancy Springer:

The100-Year-Old Secret by Tracy Barrett
The Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
Age 9+ / Grade 4+



  1. That book sounds like a lot of fun and is very relevant to the current popularity of Sherlock Holmes.

    1. Thanks, BK! I agree, it touches on a popular character and I love that it incorporates so much historical information. Enola discusses the confining clothing for women at that time, but she also uses it to her advantage (I won't spoil the plot in case you read it!). It's a fun, fast read as well.