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.
Tell Me More: What better way to start a month of mystery reading than with a salute to Sherlock Holmes? Admittedly, Secret Letters reads a bit like a piece of fanfiction, but Dora is a delightful character, and thankfully, she carries the story with grace.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this story, especially since the biggest hook–Sherlock Holmes–is deceased by the time the story begins. Dora is hit with this news early on, and similarly, I did feel as though I’d lost my grip on the story. I didn’t know any of the characters well enough yet to be emotionally attached to them, the plot was still vague, and the writing was attuned to readers younger than myself. But the mystery? Much more intriguing and interesting that I’d expected. Scherier structures the novel in surprising ways: as one learns about the mystery Dora has to solve, one also learns about Dora and the tiny quirks and idiosyncrasies that make up her personality.
From the limited experience I’ve had with mystery novels, this is one aspect that I’ve always enjoyed. The connection between the detective and the mysteries they solve is intrinsic to the organic unity of the story, and it gives the reader stakes to hold on to. In this novel, Dora is desperate to regain her footing after finding out about her alleged father’s death, and her actions/decisions reflect that need. It doesn’t excuse them, by any means, but they’re more understandable in that light. Tied as she is to societal norms, Dora nevertheless goes after what she wants and that is a quality every reader can appreciate.
The Final Say: Secret Letters is a dynamic and feminist-positive mystery novel which will fascinate new and old mystery readers alike.
Leah Scheier was born and raised in Baltimore, MD. As a child, she was inspired by her favorite authors, Arthur Conan Doyle, Lloyd Alexander, and C.S. Lewis to dream up tales of adventure and romance. Now grown up with daughters of her own, Leah works as a pediatrician and continues to create new stories. Leah and her family divide their time between Atlanta, Georgia and Modiin, Israel.