Jewel of the Thames by Angela Misri

fictionadventurer's review

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This book has been sitting on my Kindle for ages. When I finally started it, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it...but that only lasted a few chapters. Once Portia gets to London, it stops being a book and becomes a poorly written Sherlock Holmes fanfiction. The characters and settings become cardboard-thin. It supposedly takes place in 1930s London, but aside from a few stilted references to the Great Depression and to women's education of the era, it may as well have been Victorian times...or a cell-phone-less modern day. The writing "told" everything, rather than immersing me in the world or letting me get to know the characters. Portia was a decent heroine, but aside from a few traits and traumas, she's not terribly well-developed either--just an introvert with Holmes-like deduction skills and slightly more empathy.

The writing is unbelievably stilted. The dialogue contains sentences that would never be spoken by any humans in any nation or era. The later "casebooks" refer to characters and situations from earlier chapters as if they were separate books in a series, not chapters I'd just finished reading. The sentences are wordy, repetitive, and so clunky that at some points I wondered if the writer actually spoke English.

As for the mysteries...there are three of them in the book, and they're all fairly fun, with the same sensationalist unrealistic-but-still-fun twists of a typical Holmes story. I figured out aspects of the mysteries long before the end (which NEVER happens...I am stupid at mysteries). But the worst part was that the police were UNBELIEVABLY incompetent. They rely on Portia to give them evidence and theories that any reasonably sapient person would consider. It makes Portia a less impressive detective and the mysteries less satisfying than they could be.

There's a hint of future romance, and the love interest is nice enough. Unfortunately, the romance consists of Portia randomly stopping the story to mention his strong jaw or handsome face. It was super awkward.

And finally, the Holmes element. I think it's kind of silly to write characters who are related to Holmes or Watson--at this point, why not just make your own detective? But the connection between Portia and the Baker Street boys is sort of creative and isn't too bad (despite most of it consisting of clunky references to the original stories and characters). But in the end it turns into wish-fulfillment Mary Sue territory. Also, points to the author for respecting Watson as more than Holmes dumb sidekick, but a note for anyone considering Holmes fanfic: Irene Adler is NOT a criminal mastermind. She blackmailed ONE guy so she could have a chance at a quiet married life in Canada. Just...please remember this.

Overall, the book had a faintly pleasant atmosphere, just enough for me to give that second star. As a fanfic, it would be decent. As a book, it's so low-quality that I'm surprised it got published.

stephybara's review against another edition

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mysterious slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? No


delirium23's review against another edition

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I seem to be the only person who disliked this book. I should have DNF'd it but slogged to the end. Such a poorly written novel, and the 3 cases weren't interesting at all.

amandareid's review against another edition

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You can read my review over on FYA!

kpeninger's review against another edition

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A really delightful little book, with an heir of Baker Street taking the lead. Portia is a fun character, and is surrounded by a very likable cast. I hope for some more depth in future stories, but even so, I enjoyed this book as is. Given that she discovers her heritage at the end of the book, I would like to see how she further deals with the legacy she's inherited, and how others interact with her because of it. There was some in this book, but not too much. The cases themselves are rather light and largely solvable by the reader, but they aren't boring because of it. My major caveat is the history of Adler- why must everyone persist in making her a criminal? Does no one actually READ Scandal in Bohemia? Despite my continued irritation over this fact, I still liked the book. Overall, I'm going to enjoy hunting down the rest of these books (Canada, please, give them to the rest of the world!) and exploring the rest of the series.

melissayabookshelf's review against another edition

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Not the best book I've read, but it's decent. Lot of twists and turns in the plot and character development that I didn't see coming and it discusses topics, like domestic violence, that would rarely (if ever) be covered in the original tale. Nice to see such a strong, female character, who acts always with her wit completely intact. She uses induction to solve things in a unpredictable way, which is for the best in a mystery novel. Was surprised to see not one mystery solved, but three.

Liked how Portia is related to Dr. Watson, but thought she was way too introverted, spending days at a time indoors. Think that the reference to giving a child opium in their milk must be an anachronism would've opium would've been restricted after 1920 because of the dangerous drug act though. And thus, not readily available or normal to give to children.

prationality's review against another edition

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I KNEW IT. That is all I will say for now, but I KNEW IT. Ha!

Also, I sincerely hope more adventures will come about soon.


Confession time I'm not a huge Sherlockian. I'm actually rather the opposite--I was always more in the Hercule Poirot camp of quirky male detectives that most people find obnoxious. BBC's show (and Benedict Cumberbatch's cheekbones) however convinced me I was being too hard on the fellow. When I received an email asking if I'd be interested in reviewing Jewel of the Thames (as part of Portia's blog tour) it came just as I finished episode 3 of the show and I wasn't ready to let go. Really not ready to let go. Have you seen season 3? No? You'll see why I wasn't ready to let go.

JEWEL OF THE THAMES is a well paced mystery that felt genuine and made me try to figure out what was going on. Some details of Portia's shrouded family past are rather obvious, but watching her piece together the clues was amusing. Especially when she figured out who her ahem guardian was.

I want to write more but I have to dash off--let me leave this here for the moment: I freaking adore Portia.

renc7c69's review against another edition

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Originally reviewed on Words in a Teacup

I really wanted to like this book. On the surface, it's got it all: in the 1930s Portia Adams moves from Toronto to London on her mother's death, and she discovers she inherited the famous apartment at 221B Baker Street. With the help of her guardian, the ~mysterious~ Mrs. Irene Jones, Portia starts investigating her ~mysterious~ grandfather... I'm using the term very loosely here, since the solution of this mystery is immediately obvious thanks to the anvil-sized hints that everyone keeps dropping. In fact, I was almost surprised by the predictable plot twist because I'd started to think that it was too obvious and her grandfather couldn't possibly be... well, spoilers.

In this case, my reading history works against me. I'm a big fan of Sherlock Holmes, I've read all the stories and watched my fair share of adaptations. Sometimes there are books that offer a fresh take on the Arthur Conan Doyle canon. In this case, though I couldn't buy into Portia's connection to the canon characters. It's like with Robert Downey Jr: I enjoy his films but he's not Doyle's character.

Moreover, Portia has a rather bland personality, and the secondary characters have no personality at all. There's the constable with "future love interest" stamped on his forehead, the Scotland Yard inspector who's suitably impressed by the 19yo detective, the ~mysterious~ Mrs. Jones and... not many others. The book is divided in four parts: the first is about Portia leaving Toronto, the others are three different mini-mysteries. Unfortunately, the book's sluggish pace and the lack of interesting characters made it a chore to finish it.

The second case (the mysterious illness) was by far the most interesting. The gothic atmosphere reminded me of the canon stories and the plot was ingenious. Unfortunately it was also the case most riddled with mistakes, such as "reticule" (a small purse) used to mean... a cupboard, I think?

Given the amount of beta readers cited in the acknowledgements, I would have expected to find way less grammar mistakes, plot holes, or stray Americanisms.

Overall, while I'm not thrilled by this book or its heroine, I think it might appeal to people who are less of a Holmes fanatic and prefer light mysteries.