By Samantha Pak
Northwest Asian Weekly
Elementary: Blood and Ink
By Adam Christopher
Titan Books, 2016
Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson are back in this second installment of Adam Christopher’s novelization of CBS’s TV series “Elementary.”
This time, they are investigating the death of a CFO of a secretive hedge fund who had been stabbed through an eye with an expensive fountain pen. Holmes and Watson discover a link between the victim and a touring management guru with a less-than-stellar past.
While things may initially point to the charismatic guru, a closer look reveals that someone could be framing him.
The question Holmes and Watson have to answer is, who?
As this is a Sherlock Holmes mystery, the story is filled with enough twists and turns to be worthy of the famed detective. Readers will be trying to guess “whodunit” until the killer is revealed.
In this rendition of Arthur Conan Doyle’s popular deducing detective, Holmes has made his way across the pond and consults for the New York Police Department (NYPD) and Watson is a Chinese American surgeon-turned-sober-companion-turned-detective. And just as in other versions — both on screen and on the page — one of the highlights of this story is the partnership between the two main characters.
But unlike other takes, the Holmes and Watson of “Elementary” are on more equal footing. The two work together and complement each other in their crime solving. This is one of the reasons why this is my favorite version of Doyle’s mystery-solving duo. Watson is seen as an equal and just as competent and capable as Holmes — sometimes discovering that one clue or piece of evidence to solve their case.
And for someone who has spent most of her years growing up seeing people who look like her relegated to secondary and often stereotypical roles, reading about a strong Asian American woman who can hold her own is refreshing — not to mention, empowering.
Wires and Nerve
By Marissa Meyer
Feiwel & Friends, 2017
Just as life constantly moves forward in the real world, so does it in the fairy tale world — and it doesn’t always mean a happy ending.
And so it goes in Marissa Meyer’s first graphic novel, which takes place in the Lunar Chronicles universe. While our favorite ragtag bunch may have defeated the Lunar Queen Levana, there is still work to do to rebuild and strengthen the peace alliance between Earth and Luna (the moon). And everyone is doing their part, from Cinder finding her way as queen of Luna, to Kai, the emperor of New Beijing, working with other world leaders to convince them that not all Lunars are bad.
And then there’s Iko, the android with a heart of (mechanized) gold, who has volunteered to take down rogue packs of wolf-hybrid that were set loose on Earth during Levana’s reign. Initially working on her own, Iko soon finds herself teaming up with other members of the Rampion crew, as well as a certain royal Lunar guard who causes the android to question what she thinks she knows about love, loyalty, and her own humanity.
Throughout Meyer’s series, Iko has been one of my favorite characters. She may be nonhuman, but you would never know it. From her love of net dramas, to her obsession with all things girly, Iko could easily be mistaken for a boy-crazy teenaged girl. But as frivolous as she can be at times, she is fiercely loyal and will do anything for her friends — showing readers that just because someone likes pretty dresses doesn’t mean they can’t kick butt as well.
In addition to the written story, “Wires and Nerve,” as a graphic novel, features illustrations that also tell Iko’s adventures, as she works to take down the wolf soldiers. It’s a new and different way to tell Meyer’s stories and I can’t wait to read more volumes in the graphic novel series.
Rush Jobs (Hobson & Choi Book 2)
By Nick Bryan
Amazon Digital Services LLC, 2015
After solving the mystery of the wolfhound that was set loose to kill people, John Hobson, his detective agency, and his work experience student Angelina Choi have become local celebrities in London.
And now the unlikely pair — a middle-aged technophobe and Internet-savvy, teenaged Korean adoptee — are in high demand. They’ve been tasked with finding a woman who has disappeared, which leads to taking on corporate crime, beating back gentrification, and saving a dog from drug dealers. Then there’s the violent backlash from their previous case and revelations from Hobson’s past that may threaten their still-budding partnership.
All this in just the second week of Angelina’s work experience, which is similar to a job shadow or internship.
In this second installment of Bryan’s Hobson & Choi series, we see the pair’s partnership grow, as they work together to solve the cases presented to them. And while Hobson may be the older of the pair — and occasionally act as a third parent to her — it is clear that he values Angelina and her contributions to his business. He gives her real responsibilities beyond just making coffee and other grunt work often relegated to work experience students and interns (although, there is some of that). He doesn’t hesitate to defer to her for her thoughts and opinions as they work to solve the cases.
And Angelina, while still young, shows even more progress and potential as a budding detective — even as she tries to figure out if she wants to continue on this career path and how to persuade Hobson to keep her on after her work experience is done.
Through Angelina’s portrayal, Bryan shows young people have more to offer than they may realize. But he also reminds us that as independent as she is, Angelina is still a teenager, as demonstrated in the interactions she has with her mother — who would like nothing more than for Angelina to work in a shop or something equally ordinary.
Samantha can be reached at email@example.com.