This book is the first in the Sherlock Hong Adventures series and it certainly lives up to its name.
The plot revolves around Sherlock Hong, a intrepid 15-year-old boy living in Singapore in the year 1891. He belongs to the International Order of Young Seekers and is longing to be promoted to the Higher Rank of the Order. To do so, he must solve a mystery of some sort, but information regarding the Order mostly kept under wraps and I expect more detail to be provided in the rest of the series.
In this first book, Sherlock delves into a case involving a supposed "immortal nightingale" that has suddenly died. He engages the help of his neighbour Aisha and tries to conduct his investigations away from the scrutiny of his mother. He soon gets knee-deep in danger and might have got seriously hurt but is unexpectedly saved by a mystery ninja who disappears as soon as he/she arrived.
Three things I really enjoyed about The Immortal Nightingale:
1) I liked the fact that it was set in this country and the locations featured can still be found in present day Singapore.
2) In addition, characters from the minority races have a prominent role to play in the story. Aisha is Sherlock's good friend and trusty assistant and Priya is his intelligent tutor.
3) It's fast paced and exciting with short chapters guaranteed to hold the attention of anyone, young or old.
I guess the only thing I didn't quite get were what "banana pancakes" were. They were offered by Aisha to Sherlock somewhere in the middle of the book but I don't remember ever eating them growing up in Singapore. Anyone can enlighten me on that?
I would recommend this book to parents of 7 - 11 year olds. They can read it independently or it can be read to them as bedtime stories. I'm sure they'll soon be dreaming about chasing down bad guys and seeking after the truth.
You can get a copy at Kinokuniya, or order it online from the Marshall Cavendish website. For my international readers, you can order it from Book Depository or Amazon.
Reviews on Books #2, #3, and #4 will be up in the coming weeks so look out for those!
Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.