Thursday, March 20, 2014

Review: Knightley & Son by Rohan Gavin

The once highly in-demand detective Alan Knightley has just woken up after an unexplained incident kept him asleep for four years. While he was out cold, his son, Darkus, took it upon himself to read of all his dad's old cases, and he's learned a lot about the art of detection. It's a good thing too—because suddenly the duo find themselves caught up in a crazy conspiracy that involves a group of villainous masterminds (who keep appearing and then vanishing), some high-speed car chases (that will have everyone fastening their seat belts), and a national, bestselling book with the power to make people do terrible, terrible things. But because Alan is still suffering the effects of his coma, he tends to, well, fall asleep at the worst possible moments, Meaning that young Darkus might just have to solve this mystery . . . by himself.

So, I admit it. I’ve joined the Sherlock fandom. I’ve always loved mystery and the original Sherlock Holmes, but BBC’s version has be suckered. So when this was pitched as Sherlock Holmes-type book, boom. Sold. However, this isn’t a straight up retelling like the BBC is doing. There are many Sherlockian references, but with a title like Knightley & Son, you know it’s not gonna be exact.

My favorite aspect of this book was the main mystery. Honestly, the idea of a book making people commit crime? Okay, color me interested. Understanding the main mystery was the sole reason that I didn’t want to put the book down for any great length of time. And I felt that the mystery behind it was in true Sir Arthur Conan Doyle fashion -- seemingly paranormal circumstances with a total reality-based explanation in the end. I don’t really think that spoils much.

I also liked Darkus (our Sherlock - more or less) and his no-nonsense approach to everything. I know this is a Middle Grade novel and parents are generally) seen, but I kind of wish we’d seen less of Knightley and Uncle Bill and more of Tilly and her Watson-like partnering. If there is a sequel and there’s more Darkus and Tilly partnering, I would be totally game for that!

At my lovely children’s bookselling job, I get asked a million times a day for mystery and have always lamented about the lack of straight-up Agatha Christie-like mystery for the Middle Grade reader and am so excited that Bloomsbury has finally given the genre something I can recommend!

-Reviewed by Jennifer

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