Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Review: Jewel of the Thames (Portia Adams Adventures #1) by Angela Misri

Many times, what happens when you pick up a book is that first you read the synopsis on the back, and on your own, come up with a basic plot that your expect the story to follow. That is why it comes as a surprise when every so often, there comes along a novel that does not follow these expectations, and instead diverges from the same old pattern and forges a new path that you had no even thought of. Sometimes such a path is a great one, and surpasses your every expectation. Then again, sometimes the path is not up your alley, and significantly decreases your engagement while reading the book. Unfortunately, I have to say that Jewel of the Thames seemed to follow the latter idea. Though after reading the synopsis it seemed to me the book would interest me - I have an undying love for anything even remotely related to Sherlock Holmes - after reading the childish tone of book, the unfinished romance between the characters, and the much too easily solvable mysteries, it turns out this book is not my type after all.

One of the biggest surprises this book had to offer was the middle grade tone of the book despite the fact that the main character was nineteen years old. Obviously when you are told that the lead heroine, Portia Adams, is a nineteen year old, independent teen, you expect a certain maturity of voice to be portrayed throughout the novel. Instead, what I found was a style of writing that is more commonly found in middle grade writing than young adult. Not only that, but the thoughts and ideas that went through Portia's head were of a child much younger than her nineteen years. In the beginning of the novel, readers are first introduced to Portia as she faces her mother's death. She claims she is able to live on her own and take care of herself; so, you can understand my confusion when she ended up being more of a tween than a teen. I enjoyed that Portia's thought process when solving a mystery was similar to Sherlock's, but Portia as a person had not really found herself in the novel, so it detracted from my overall interest in the book. The misleading possibility of a cute romance in the synopsis was another aspect of the novel that had me regretting reading it.

After reading the blurb on the back of the book, or on Goodreads, as it were, I distinctly remember thinking that there would be a boy-next-door type of romance involved. Of course, it was not the main reason I picked up the book (and thank goodness for that), but it was still a disappointment when the book seemed to have almost none at all. I may be exaggerating the lack of romance a bit, but then again, maybe not. There are literally only about three lines in the entire book that even hinted at any type of relationship between Portia and the young man who lives in her flat, Brian Dawes. What did all these lines have in common? That they barely skimmed the fact that Brian looked good on a certain day, and that Portia had to look away for a moment. I do not know if it is just me, but that is not exactly what I would classify as romance. Again, like I mentioned previously, this was not a deal-breaker for me, but it definitely hurt my affection for the book. What did majorly impact how engaged I was with the story, however, was that the three mysteries in the novel were not exactly what you would call hard to solve.

While this book kept to original, Sherlock-esque mysteries, I would be lying if I said they constantly kept my attention. They were not boring by far, and the mysteries did play with my mind every once in a while, but overall, it was not hard to come to the correct conclusion. What I love most about good mysteries is that there are so many false leads and possible culprits that it is near impossible to figure out exactly what really happened; it was not like that in this story. Sometimes I figured out who the "bad guy" was as soon as I met him, and sometimes I figured it out halfway through the case. Either way, it was not a huge challenge to figure out what was happening even before the narrator, and I can attest to the fact that the joy of being smarter than Portia is quickly overrun by boredom at knowing all the answers.

Looking back at the book, I am glad I took the chance to read it, as it was a unique take on every one's beloved self-proclaimed consultant, but due to the immature voice, the undeveloped romance, and the none-too-challenging mysteries in the novel, this book did not really appeal to me. I feel that this book would be better suited to younger readers; as a hardcore fan of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson, however, I cannot recommend it to any similar parties as I can not see it being anything but a disappointment. It is hard to make a spin off as good as the original, and Jewel of the Thames seems to have had followed this pattern as well.

Book Synopsis: There’s a new detective at 221 Baker Street

Set against the background of 1930s England, Jewel of the Thames introduces Portia Adams, a budding detective with an interesting — and somewhat mysterious — heritage. 

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.

Featuring casebook illustrations by Sydney Smith.

Source: Own the ebook on my Mac.

Title: Jewel of the Thames
Author: Angela Misri
Publication Date: March 25, 2014
Publisher: Fierce Ink Press Co-op Ltd
Genre: Mystery, Young Adult
Pages: 256 pages