KNIGHTLEY & SON by Rohan Gavin

Moontrug has always loved Sherlock Holmes and when she discovered Bloomsbury were publishing a ‘Sherlock Holmes for children’ series she got very excited. Cue Rohan Gavin’s Knightley & Son, the first in a crime-solving trilogy… Darkus Knightley is a perfectly ordinary thirteen-year-old, apart from his name, his brainpower, his fondness for tweed, and the top secret files hidden upstairs. But when a stranger from the Department of the Unexplained arrives with news of his father, ordinary is over for good… Alan Knightley was London’s top private detective until he went into a coma four years ago. Now he’s woken up to discover his son has inherited the family talent – and their services are urgently needed. Is a bestselling book making people do terrible things? Could it be linked to a shadowy organisation known as the Combination?

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The plot is filled with tension (‘a light scratching intruded on the uppermost frequencies of his hearing… A clearly audible click, followed by the faint sound of something softly crushing the fabric of the carpeted stairs’) and intrigue – and Gavin intelligently plants a series of clues that will draw readers further and further into the case. There is a satisfying feel to the writing and plotting as Darkus and Knightley unravel the facts – the same kind of revelatory gratification you find in Conan Doyle’s Sherlock stories. And the character cast is awesome: a broad-Scot called Bill (LOVING the sound of his fall being described as mimicking the noise of a king-size mattress dropping from a great height!), a feisty Polish woman, a child detective dressed in tweed who loves his sandwiches cut into triangles (and has a library card as ID) and a terrible villain…

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There are codes, anagrams and secrets – perfect ingredients for a detective case – as well as cool gadgets to keep imaginative children engaged (think exploding lipstick and lethal inhalers). And Darkus is a fantastic lead character, motivated not only by a sharp desire to unravel the mystery but by a yearning to be close to his often distant father. He is both clever (‘Did you know that dust is seventy per cent human skin and hair?’) and amusing (‘Floor it, Bogna’) and 8-12-year-old readers will love him. And they’ll be pleased to know the sequel is out now and tweed-wearing, mega-brained, thoroughly logical 13-year-old investigator of the weird, Darkus Knightley, is back on a different case with a traumatised ex-bomb-disposal dog as his partner in crime-solving. A third in the series is on the way. Most definitely then, the game is afoot…