Knightley & Son

 
Clever, quirky kickoff to father-son detective series.

What parents need to know

Educational value

A few advanced words are spelled and defined at a spelling bee. Internet protocol addresses, Morse code, and the center-line theory of the martial art Wing Chun are explained. Kids will learn a little London geography and how to jimmy a locked car door. One or two Polish and Latin phrases are explained or translated.

Positive messages

There's real evil in the world, but only those with an open mind, such as children and a very few adults, can see it. Good detective work depends on a willingness to put in the hard work. Darkus is exasperated by a popular self-help book that encourages achieving shallow, materialistic goals by hope and luck. Mr. Knightley mentions a few times that female counterparts are frequently distracting. Darkus doesn't dispute the notion, but he does work well with Tilly and wouldn't make much progress without her help.

Positive role models

Darkus Knightley, 13, is clever, resourceful, and academically successful. His logic and reasoning skills are highly advanced, and he only wants to use his intellectual gifts to help his father's investigations. Mr. Knightley put work above family in the past, but he loves Darkus and wants to find the right balance moving forward. Step-sister Tilly, also 13, has the common-sense street smarts. She's not academically driven, but she does have a knack for the sciences, and when she applies herself to her schoolwork she excels.

Violence

There's some scary fantasy imagery when people hallucinate, such as seeing insects coming from every direction or a demonic figure surrounded by flames. Blood is mentioned a few times but not described in detail, although a dead body is examined in the morgue, and some detail about the fatal knife wound is described. Villains threaten with knives and guns, and the climax involves the heroes in peril. Blows and injuries from fighting are described, including some detail regarding Darkus being choked with a shower hose. A sequence when a villain tries to grab Darkus from his hiding place is scary. Someone's run over by a train, but there's no gore.

Sex
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

International products mentioned once each include Crocs, Special K, YouTube, Ford Fiesta, and Post-its. A character has "Coke-bottle glasses." An unappealing, materialistic character frequently thinks about his Jaguar, and it's mentioned a lot. British products probably unfamiliar to U.S. readers but mentioned half a dozen times or less each include Fairway cabs, Homebase, and London A-Z.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A mention of Uncle Bill having beer in a pub. An adult drinks whiskey. Drunks in the local constabulary are mentioned. Uncle Bill is frequently mentioned smoking a cigar. Mr. Knightley admits to smoking in the past and looks for a secret stash of cigarettes. A mysterious adult is mentioned smoking, and background people smoking are mentioned.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Knightley & Son is the clever, engaging first installment of a planned detective series set in London. There's a large cast of quirky, inventive characters who use logic and reasoning to find answers. The heroes are in peril a few times, there's some fantasy-based scariness, and the climax is an exciting action scene with some fighting described. Kids who enjoy the Harry Potter series will have no trouble here. Firmly rooted in the here and now, the story has no magical elements and less fantasy than Potter, but the supernatural is not ruled out. And fans of Sherlock Holmes will enjoy the emphasis on using logic to solve mysteries. 

What's the story?

When Mr. Knightley suddenly wakes up after four years in a coma, he and his 13-year-old son, Darkus, find themselves embroiled in a mystery involving a shadowy, master-criminal organization. All of Mr. Knightley's files and notes from years of investigating the organization before the coma have disappeared. Fortunately, while his father was laid up, Darkus read through all the files and can instantly recall the information in them. Like it or not, if Mr. Knightley's going to bring the criminals to justice, he'll have to rely on Darkus' help. As the investigation brings father and son back together, perhaps the two can rebuild the relationship that was put on hold for so long.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

KNIGHTLEY & SON is a delightful, absorbing mystery full of quirky, funny good guys and mysterious, shadowy bad guys. The writing is clever enough that adults will enjoy reading it aloud as much as kids will enjoy reading it on their own.

The British-schoolboy hero and over-the-top villains will be of interest to fans of Harry Potter. And Darkus' reliance on logical explanations make him more an heir to Sherlock Holmes. The climax is exciting, and the ending wraps up the story nicely while staying wide-open for the further adventures of this oddball detecting duo.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why mysteries are so popular. Why do we enjoy reading them so much?

  • Are Darkus and his father a good investigative team? Why, or why not? Have you ever teamed up with an adult to solve a problem? Were you successful?

  • A popular self-help book is an important part of the story. Do you know any adults who read self-help books? Do you think they really help the way they're meant to?

Book details

Author:Rohan Gavin
Genre:Mystery
Topics:Adventures, Great boy role models, Misfits and underdogs
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:March 4, 2014
Number of pages:320
Publisher's recommended age(s):10 - 12
Available on:Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

This review of Knightley & Son was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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