Skip to main content

The Case of the Gypsy Good-Bye an Enola Holmes Mystery

Review

The Case of the Gypsy Good-Bye an Enola Holmes Mystery

It’s not easy being the baby sister of older, famous brothers. No one knows this better than Enola Holmes, sister of mystery sleuth Sherlock Holmes and the brilliant Mycroft. For several years, Enola has been evading her brothers, mainly because they have disagreed on her future. Their mother has vanished, and the well-meaning brothers want their sister to attend a ladies finishing school for a “proper” education. Enola, however, wants nothing to do with this and manages, under various disguises, to do her own detective work as well as solve plenty of mysteries on her own (see the five previous books). She has become more confident and independent. Though she loves Sherlock and Mycroft, she feels a certain amount of wariness lest she fall into their clutches.

For the time being, she searches for her mother and most recently has become involved with the strange disappearance of the lovely Duquessa Blanchefleur del Campo. The distressed husband of this fine lady, the Duque Luis Orlando del Campo, describes his missing wife as “…renowned for her fragile beauty, a delicate blossom upon a frail filament of womanhood.” Most likely she has been kidnapped, but by whom and how she could have so completely disappeared from the Underground is a total puzzlement to all. Certainly her ladies-in-waiting cannot understand, though they had been with her. The Underground, where Blanchefleur disappeared, is known for its dark, steamy depths and a connection to three murders. Why Blanchefleur had gone there is even more of a mystery. This is the kind of thing Enola is most adept at --- finding missing persons. 

Busily gathering information through interviews and taking copious notes, Enola is soon able to put some good facts together. Unfortunately, during one of her visits to the Duke’s house, she finds Sherlock working the same case. Although she is able to get by him this one time, it is not long before their paths cross again (with the clever introduction of her pet dog, Reginald). All of this seems to be a good occurrence as Sherlock is anxious to share a mysterious communication from their mother, which is addressed to Enola. As usual, the message is written in code, known as a “skytale,” and they must figure out how to translate it. Thus, another mystery ensues.

The meeting with Sherlock and then Mycroft leads into an unexpected partnership for the three of them as they investigate the Duquessa’s kidnapping. But Enola continues to be wary of her brothers, and the warning words of an old palm-reading gypsy woman haunt her:

…In truth you are alone, you have been alone even in your childhood days, and you are fated to be alone all your life unless you act to defy your fate…Your mother is where your mother is fated to be. You, Enola, must beware of following her. Follow your own stars.

In this sixth Enola Holmes adventure, author Nancy Springer again captures the wit and spirit of a feisty girl, well ahead of the times. She writes knowledgably of life in the 19th century, describing costumes, people and places with words that create pictures:

Beer-wagons and bread-wagons, water-carriers, pony-carts, barouches and broughams passed in constant, necessarily slow procession: an omnibus trundled by, advertising the inevitable “Nestlé’s Milk.” Many and various people also traversed the cobbles of the square: a fish-porter with a basket of fresh Pollock on his head: a bill-sticker carrying his long brush and a bucket of paste, with a roll of advertisements under his arm; a ginger-cake seller; promenading ladies; businessmen in top-hats; laughing children…swinging from a rope they had tied to the top of a lamppost; and a hokey-pokey vendor who had set up his churn and folding table…

We are invited into a world long-gone, of moralities and manners very foreign to people today. For instance, it would be hard to imagine the pains many women endured trying to create small waists by corseting themselves to fit the styles of the day. Springer uses the character of Blanchefleur to demonstrate some of the consequences of this dress:

Since childhood, dear Blanchefleur has worn a spooned corset. …A corset extending all the way from the upper limbs to the lower, with a “spoon” of solid steel to minimize any frontal protrusion below the bust…

Not only does the corset, which she wears even during sleep, bind the woman, but it also has contributed to several miscarriages, and she can no longer stand or sit upright without it. These kinds of details, adding to the intriguing story and colorful characters, will please fans of this popular series. Sadly, this is the last installment.  We can only hope that Springer will change her mind and bring Enola back for even more great adventures. She is truly coming into her own and is a heroine of our times.

Reviewed by Sally Tibbetts on November 10, 2011

The Case of the Gypsy Good-Bye an Enola Holmes Mystery
by Nancy Springer

  • Publication Date: November 10, 2011
  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin
  • ISBN-10: 0142418889
  • ISBN-13: 9780142418888