K-9: Knightley & Son, Book 2

Book review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
K-9: Knightley & Son, Book 2 Book Poster Image
Less quirky, darker, more absorbing mystery sequel.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Two or three German words and one Latin phrase used without translation. "Schweinhund" defined, the history of using dogs in battle and some detail about war dogs used in the Vietnam War, facts about dogs' keen sense of smell, a map of Hampstead Heath, a jeweler's loupe defined.

Positive Messages

Imagination is the basis of detective work, until the facts arrive.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Darkus Knightley, 13, continues to use logical, fact-based reasoning and scientific knowledge but focuses less on academics as he skips school (with parental permission) to solve the mystery. He's loyal and loving to his pet dog, Wilbur. Other characters and relationships take a backseat to Darkus' relationship with Wilbur. His dad, Mr. Knightley, is a bit more hapless and helpless this time, and stepsister Tilly is mysteriously unavailable although ultimately proves her continued loyalty and bravery.

Violence

A scary feral beast, possibly a werewolf, lurks in the dark and violently attacks. Blood is mentioned a few times but not described in detail. A hidden lair with skinned small animals, including pet dogs, describes eye sockets hanging out, painful grimaces, and thousands of buzzing flies. One or two fights include throttling, biting, and kicking. Gunshots wound in the shoulder and leg; one killing by a sniper. A dog fights and receives a deep chest wound. A man contorting his body is described as moving with bone-cracking sounds. An important character dies.

Sex

A man watches a woman undress through a window at night; she turns out to be a man. One "lingering kiss" on the lips. "Walk of shame" in connection with romance is mentioned but not explained.

Language

"Hell," "Christ."

Consumerism

U.S. and international brands: Adidas, Aston Martin, Hermès, Hoover, Crocs, Timex, Ford, Discovery Channel, iPad, Volvo, Birkenstock, Land Rover, BMX, Jaguar. U.K. brands probably unfamiliar to American kids: Austin Metro, Hunter wellies, Fairway cabs, Pizza Express, Barbour, Penguin biscuits, Little Chef, Vauxhall, Hobnobs, Chessington World of Adventures, Perspex.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Several mentions of cigar smoking; a minor character rolls and smokes a cigarette.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that K-9 is the sequel to Knightley & Son by Rohan Gavin, with at least one more installment planned. Although there are still some quirky characters and comedic moments, Darkus' relationship with his faithful canine friend Wilbur is the focus. There's a dark turn when a main character suffers a tragic loss. Several fights describe blows and bites, and villains are wounded by gunfire. There's speculation that a scary feral beast is a werewolf. There are a couple of gruesome descriptions of skinned pets and small animals, and there's a man contorting his double-jointed body. There's one kiss, and "hell" is used a few times. Military use of dogs in Vietnam is explained in some detail; learning that thousands of loyal, brave service dogs were abandoned there is especially upsetting.

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What's the story?

Shadowy, highly trained dogs are attacking London police officers at the full moon, and Darkus Knightley has spotted them sniffing around his house. As Darkus follows the trail into the depths of Hampstead Heath -- a huge, and sometimes wild, park in the middle of London -- he learns that lots of pets have gone missing recently. Rumors start to fly that London has a werewolf on its hands. Helping Darkus follow the scent is Wilbur, a military service dog recently returned from the Middle East. Can Darkus and Wilbur track down the real culprit?

Is it any good?

There are still some funny moments, but the series takes a slightly darker turn here. As a sequel that picks up a few months after the events of Knightley and SonK-9 spends less time establishing interesting and quirky characters. Author Rohan Gavin concentrates more on the eerie atmospherics surrounding a werewolf mystery and on the friendship between Darkus and his canine companion, Wilbur.

The strong writing will keep readers absorbed, and the tight plotting and steady pace will keep the pages turning. The ending will not satisfy all but definitely will keep readers in high anticipation of the next planned installment.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the popularity of mysteries. Why do we enjoy them so much?

  • Did you know that dogs have been used in battle for centuries? What about dogs makes them so helpful in war? Are they the same qualities that make them good pets?

  • Have you ever had a pet dog or known someone who has had one? Was the relationship like Daruis and Wilbur's? What was different about it?

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