An Enola Holmes Mystery: The Case of the Left-Handed Lady
An Enola Holmes Mystery: The Case of the Left-Handed Lady by Serena Blasco is the second graphic novel adaptation from the YA series by Nancy Springer, following The Case of the Missing Marquess. Unfortunately, the concept is not growing on me.
The idea of a young, smart, adventuresome heroine is a great one, but using the Holmes name and characters without bothering to capture what made those stories so well-loved is frustrating. I’m reading this series because I’m a fan of those, so seeing Sherlock portrayed as a villain for wanting a girl not yet fifteen to be supervised is unsettling. Particularly when she so easily fools him.
Enola has established herself a second identity as a secretary to a finder of missing persons, a doctor who doesn’t actually exist (shades of Remington Steele!). In order to bring new readers up to speed, Dr. John Watson appears early on to tell the fictional secretary what the character already knows — but the reader may not remember.
That conversation is how Enola finds out what Sherlock Holmes is working on, a case of a missing young lady that she decides to pursue herself. There are questions about whether the high-class girl has run away with an unsuitable suitor or has been kidnapped or is more politically motivated.
Enola also, because she apparently never needs to sleep, goes out as a nun at night to make contact with street people. When someone attempts to strangle her, instead of investigating, she burns the evidence because it has dismayed her. We’re supposed to believe that she doesn’t turn to either of her famous brothers because she is old enough to value her freedom and take care of herself, but this reaction argues against it, and works against the idea of the mystery. (Fans of any kind of scientific method may also not care for the way that hypnosis is treated as magical mind control in this book.)
Visually, there are a lot of face and eye closeups that aren’t as powerful emotionally as I suspect they’re intended to be. I couldn’t tell the male characters apart, which makes the scenes where they’re in disguise even more confusing.
The mystery is abruptly told and ended. I suspect a problem of space for adaptation is the culprit. This album, a European-style hardcover, has only 64 pages to tell the entire story, which likely accounts for the jumpy style and emotional swings so quick as to give whiplash. Overall, I sympathize with some of the motivations — it would be difficult to be a strong-willed young woman in Enola’s era — but the execution never pulls together, making this an unsatisfactory read. (The publisher provided a review copy.)