A review by fictionadventurer
Jewel of the Thames by Angela Misri


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.