Meet Knightley and Son - two great detectives for the price of one . . .
Darkus Knightley is not your average thirteen-year-old: ferociously logical, super-smart and with a fondness for tweed, detective work is in his blood. His dad Alan Knightley was London's top private investigator and an expert in crimes too strange for Scotland Yard to handle, but four years ago the unexplained finally caught up with him - and he fell into a mysterious coma. Darkus is determined to follow in his father's footsteps and find out what really happened. But when Alan suddenly wakes up, his memory is wonky and he needs help. The game is afoot for Knightley & Son - with a mystery that gets weirder by the minute, a bestselling book that makes its readers commit terrible crimes, and a sinister organisation known as the Combination . . .
Darkus Knightley's life has been almost as unfortunate as his first name in recent years. His father, Alan Knightley, a detective with a penchant for unusual cases, has been deep in a mysterious coma for four years. Darkus' mother is now married to the presenter of a bargain-basement version of Top Gear, and his relationship with his step-sister Tilly is more than a little complicated. Darkus is very much his father's son - he talks like him, dresses like him, and has spent the previous four years honing his own investigative skills by examining his father's case files.
As if life wasn't complicated enough, Darkus is accosted in the street by a mysterious man who claims to be his Uncle Bill, not strictly a blood relative but a very close friend of his father nonetheless. He also comes with incredible news - just the evening before Alan Knightley awoke from his coma and did a runner from his hospital ward and when he finally reappears he has only one thing on his mind - to track down an oganisation he refers to as The Combination, one which he is convinced is behind a vast number of crimes. Elsewhere, a new self-help book is having a terrible effect on many who read it, causing them to commit crimes that are completely out of character. Could the book, the crimes and Alan Knightley's investigations be connected? It's up to Darkus and Tilly to find out.
This is a really fun mystery adventure story that is perfect for 10+ readers. Darkus is pretty much a young Sherlock Holmes, sharing many of the great detective's incredible mental abilities, as well as a number of his many quirks. I know from talking to kids at school that the BBC's Sherlock has been incredibly popular with many of them, of all ages, and although it is broadcast later on the evening there are a lot of our Year 7s who are huge fans of Benedict Cumberbatch's portrayal of Holmes. Along with Andrew Lane's brilliant Young Sherlock series, Knightley and Son is the perfect book to put into the hands of these young people, and could also lead to them dipping into Arthur Conan Doyle's stories as they progress with their reading.
In Darkus Knightley, author Rohan Gavin has created a protagonist that readers will grow to love, and I hope there will be many more Knightley and Son books from the author and his publisher Bloomsbury in the future. He will have great appeal to young readers who feel they aren't part of the in-crowd - Darkus doesn't do most of the things that his supposedly 'cool' peers do, but he doesn't care as he is happy with his own interests (or should that be obsessions?). Although I have likened Darkus to a young Holmes, this story is most definitely not a Sherlock wannabe. Yes, Darkus has incredible intellectual acuity and a fondness for wearing tweed, but it is his relationship with his father that adds that much needed element of uniqueness. Darkus is desperate to be accepted by his father for the talent that he is, his biggest fear that now that his father is out of the coma he will insist on Darkus taking a back seat, well out of harm's way.
The book finishes with the promise that "Knightley and Son will return" and I'm definitely ready for more of these clever, action-packed and humorous adventures featuring the father and son duo. My thanks go to the fab people at Bloomsbury for sending me a copy to read.