Welcome to The YA Literary Review!

Dec 5, 2014


  • Age Range: 10 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 6
  • Series: Knightley and Son
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens (March 4, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1619631539
  • Source:  Local Library
"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."


Written with a humour that reveals the author's enjoyment of his subject matter, this promises to be an interesting series to follow for young lovers of mystery, and the parents who may want to read along with them, too. There are some very sharp and funny parodies of pop culture (the book at the centre of the mystery, clearly modeled on the runaway self-help bestseller "The Secret" by Rhonda Byrnes, and the hero's stepfather, a caricature of Top Gear personalities) which provide plenty of chuckles for the older readers.

The language is sophisticated, yet accessible, offering younger readers a chance to stretch themselves without being too aware of the work involved to find meaning in context.

I was interested in the unusual set up of a father and son detective series in a literary world that usually prefers to kill parents off as soon as possible, but unfortunately the author seemed nervous about following through with this, frequently rendering the father unconscious so that the son could work on his own towards solving the mystery. This got a little tiresome, and I hope it will be a problem restricted only to the first book, with subsequent books in the series having the guts to develop the mentor/adept relationship more whole-heartedly.

Young Darkus, who slavishly copies his father's mode of dress, office decoration, speech patterns, and methods (I do hope he develops his own style at some point), gets a girl sidekick in the form of his scientifically able step-sister, Tilly, whose hair mysteriously changes colour. We don't get inside any of the characters much, in spite of multiple points of view opportunities to do so.

The mystery was well-plotted and verged on modern-day satire, which I very much enjoyed and hope we get more of as the series progresses.

I look forward to reading the next in the series to see how these characters are developed, and to see what trouble "The Combination" will challenge them with next.


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