Parents' Guide to

The Downward Spiral: Lock and Key, Book 2

By Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 9+

Moodier young Sherlock sequel is chock-full of secrets.

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This sequel builds in many layers of secrets and ciphers to keep the mystery series nearly as sharp and quick as young Sherlock himself, though sometimes at the expense of character depth. It's almost hard to count all the mysteries in play at the same time: the journal, the mother's disappearance, the father's death, the gold bars and paintings in the hidden room, the two secret societies and their hierarchies and power struggles, the spying, the deaths, the disappearance of the necklace ... it keeps going. It's hard to always tell which lead the story will follow next and what new layer of mystery it will reveal, but like most Sherlock-inspired stories, all that guesswork is a big part of the thrill.

The paths of two Moriarty siblings diverge here: James takes the moody tragic path; Moira the more hopeful one that puts trust in the right people, like Sherlock. James' big change in The Downward Spiral needed more time on the page. Without a closer look at his psyche, he downward-spirals into a one-note villain who just wants power far too quickly. And Moira, as the sometimes narrator, needs time to process how closely her family is tied to all kinds of bad things. Instead, we see her pine over Sherlock and get jealous when other girls are around him. It sells her short as a strong female character. Let's hope that in Book 3 author Ridley Pearson brings us as close to these characters as he does to the myriad mysteries in their lives.

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