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K-9 (Knightley and Son) Paperback – July 12, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—The latest "Knightley & Son" adventure (Bloomsbury) is a paranormal mystery following the same format as its predecessor. This time, readers encounter a werewolf story. As Darkus struggles with his relationship with his father, he is also drawn into a rather unusual mystery. The young detective doesn't believe in werewolves, so what else could be leaving such odd footprints? Gavin continues the character development from his previous book, though readers attempting to jump into this second installment may be a bit lost; it's best to start with Knightley & Son (2014). Overall, a fun, engaging romp, perfect for middle school students looking for suspense with a touch of the paranormal.—Saleena L. Davidson, South Brunswick Public Library, Monmouth Junction, NJ --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
"Danger and excitement--not to mention quirky characters and wonderful writing--lurk around every page!" --Chris Grabenstein, "New York Times" bestselling author of "Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library" and co-author of "Treasure Hunters""" "A teeth-gnashing thriller (. . .), it will have readers (ahem) howling for a third." --"Kirkus Reviews" "A fun, engaging romp, perfect for middle school students looking for suspense with a touch of the paranormal." --"School Library Journal"
"A teeth-gnashing thriller (. . .), it will have readers (ahem) howling for a third." --"Kirkus Reviews" "A fun, engaging romp, perfect for middle school students looking for suspense with a touch of the paranormal." --"School Library Journal"
"Danger and excitement--not to mention quirky characters and wonderful writing--lurk around every page!" --Chris Grabenstein, "New York Times" bestselling author of "Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library" and co-author of "Treasure Hunters""" "Heroes, villains and settings are all fully realized through proficient description, and contemporary technology gives way to sheer brainpower. A rousing page-turner with one fault: It ends." --"Kirkus Reviews," starred review, on "Knightley & Son " "Gavin has created a fun 'Sherlock Holmes'-style adventure, with modern twists and a bit of humor. The combination is skillfully done. This is a quick and fun read; a great choice for choice looking for a new mystery to dive into." --"School Library Journal," starred review, on "Knightley & Son"
Top customer reviews
Also, in certain places, the book doesn't seem to flow as it should. When I read a good book, I feel you should never have to stop and reread because something "didn't make sense" or didn't flow properly.
I am an adult and have read hundreds if not thousands of juvenile and young adult books, and I have very high expectations. There are alot of really good writers out there (such as the Young Sherlock Holmes series) that I really enjoy. So when I read a book like this that is really not up to my standards, I want to let others know about it.
This book is jammed packed with factual information from present and past. I enjoy reading the factual information. However, I had found it really difficult to want to stay focused on reading this book. I have picked it up and put it down so many times in the last few months that I have lost count. I have re-read the first two chapters just as many because I need to refresh myself and just couldn’t keep my attention on it.
I am glad to say that after the first five or so chapters the book picked up a lot and became a much more intriguing read for me. The last handful of chapters even more so. That gives you all something to look forward to should you decide to pursue reading it. It does get better.
I do believe that the first book was a far better read then this one, however, it is still none the less well written.
So, the real question is whether you want to bother getting up to speed and reading this. It's a detective/suspense sort of book and for me the appeal of the kid hero, the slightly formal yet slightly awkward style of writing, the action and the interesting plot all added up to a good reading experience. That said, each character has some tics and idiosyncrasies that a reader, with good cause, could either take or leave. There was enough dry humor and enough engaging byplay that I was willing to overlook the points at which the characters went a bit over the top.
What mostly makes everything work is our hero thirteen year old Darkus, who remains particularly engaging. There have been lots of reviews and blurbs that invoke that hoary old description "a young Sherlock Holmes". But, Darkus is not developed as simply some lame mini-Sherlock. He follows instincts that are coupled with a keen deductive mind, and he is a bit fussy and compulsive, but he is his own character. Refreshingly, he is not played as a geeky nerd type just because he thinks clearly. He is much more in the resourceful "boys own" style and can deliver a punch as well as he can find a clue, and that's a pretty engaging combo. The book is narrated in the third person, but the third person narrator is so omniscient that we spend a lot of time inside Darkus's head, so we do end up, as a practical matter, following the action from his point of view. That makes everything more immediate and gripping, which always strikes me as an attractive approach for a middle grade thriller.
On top of a fine protagonist we get a ripping plot with a lot of colorful touches and dastardly villainy. Secondary characters, (step-sister Tilly, Dad, Uncle Bill, Alexis, Bogna), all have a fair bit to do and have some featured scenes so this is more than just following Darkus about. While there is some broad humor built around one or two of the characters, most of the chuckles are droll and deadpan, and since I think there isn't enough dry middle grade humor being produced that was all fine by me.
The K-9 comes from Wilbur, the retired war dog who plays a featured role throughout the book. While Wilbur is mostly a device rather than a "real" dog he is so skillfully woven into the story that he still takes on great weight as a dramatic, and touching, force.
This is all wrapped up and presented in an elegant style. The writing has just a slight touch of the old-fashioned and is just ever so slightly stilted. It always felt that every character was carrying a furled umbrella. While set in the present there is a hint of that old Victorian restraint and formality that adds an additional touch of portent and suspense to a thriller. It also means that in terms of vocabulary, grammar, syntax and the like this book has been thoroughly and well edited. The ultimate effect is that the book feels somehow a bit "unconventional" and it is certainly different in style from most other slam bang middle grade detective/actioners.
As a consequence of the foregoing I don't know about the overall wide appeal of this series. But, for an ambitious and confident reader this feels like it could be a nice choice.
Please note that I received a free advance ecopy of this book in exchange for a candid review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.