Being friends with a super sleuth isn’t easy, especially when she’s nine years old, four feet tall, and full of attitude. But for eleven-year-old John Watson, being friends with Shelby Holmes is just the adventure he’s looking for.
After Watson’s online journal chronicling his and Shelby’s case-closing abilities attracts the attention of a newspaper reporter, the pair becomes a small “media sensation” in their Harlem neighborhood. So it’s no surprise (at least, to Shelby!) when the article lands them a new client–a figure skating coach whose star athlete, Jordan Nelson, is receiving strange, threatening messages, written entirely in code.
There’s no one better to crack the cipher than dynamic duo Shelby and Watson! But to gather information, Shelby decides that they’ll have to go undercover . . . as an award-winning pair skating team. Can they use the laws of physics and their acting skills to maintain their covers and figure out who’s sending Jordan such strange messages before it’s too late?
BEHIND THE STORY
Every Shelby Holmes case is inspired by a Sherlock Holmes story written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This one was sparked by The Adventure of the Dancing Men, which features a substitution cipher. That is pretty much where any similarities between the two stories begin and end.
When I came up with the plot for the book, I started with the cipher. A substitution cipher is a secret code which uses an image to represent a letter of an alphabet. In The Dancing Men it was characters that represented men dancing (shocking, I know)! So when I thought how to make it different, I was thinking maybe I’d make them ballerinas, and the client could be a ballerina. But then something hit me: wait, what if it was figure skaters? And then Shelby and Watson would have to go undercover as figure skaters! That would be hilarious! Poor Watson!
That settled it: Shelby and Watson would be hired to solve the case of a figure skater being sent a cipher. All I had to do was actually come up with a cipher that Shelby and Watson would be able to decode, but not that easily. Oh yeah, and come up with suspects and motives and…and…and!
I got to do fun stuff for research like watching figure skating, The Cutting Edge, and Ice Princess. I also had to research the physics of figure skating, which was exactly as fun as it sounds. Plus, I got to create a cipher–my “art” appears in the book. You’ll soon realize why we have professional illustrators draw the hard stuff for the books (shout out to Erwin Madrid and Matt Robertson!).
I think The Great Shelby Holmes and the Coldest Case might be my favorite book yet and hope you enjoy reading it!