The British invasion of series books here in America seems to be growing by leaps and bounds. This new series, Knightley & Son, can now be added the list. And, just like with the British television shows that I have found I enjoy, so I can say the same thing about the series I've picked up, including this one.
In this first book of the series, author Rohan Gavin introduces us to Darkus Knightley (and yes, that name definitely gets him made fun of in school), a not-so-typical thirteen year old boy whose father, London's top private investigator, has been in a coma for the past four years. Darkus has spent the last four years visiting his father in the hospital and doing everything he can to learn all he can about his father - including memorizing every bit of information on the cases his father had stored on his hard drive. Each case has its own unique name, such as the "Curious Case of the Amber Necklace." And while Darkus spends his visits with his father going over those cases, little does he realize the importance that knowledge is going to play...
Of course, as is typical with most young adult and children mystery series, Darkus come from a broken home. His mother and father are divorced, and his mother has remarried a more stable man (as opposed to Alan Knightley, whose conspiracy theories led to the demise of his marriage) who is a widower that comes with his own daughter, Tilly. The family dynamic is certainly the "norm" by today's standards, but Gavin keeps it fresh with the interaction between Darkus and Tilly, and by the unique relationship that Darkus shares with his father. There are also several supporting cast members who are just as fun to read - Mr. Knightley's secretary Bogna; Inspector Draycott, who has little time for Mr. Knightley's ideas; and Uncle Bill, who is not really an uncle, but an agent of Scotland Yard.
The mystery begins with a young boy in a bookstore becoming absorbed by what he is reading in The Code, only to find himself being attacked by a horde of bugs coming out of the book - bugs that only he can see. Transition to Darkus sitting by his father's bedside, praying his father will one day come back to him. Then, as fate would have it, as soon as he leaves, the nurse turns on the TV, and upon hearing the word "combination," Alan Knightley wakes up from his four-year nap! The chase is on from that moment forward, and Darkus, as well as his step-sister, get caught up in the game, and before you know it, everyone's in danger! A chip off the old block, Darkus puts his observational skills and powers of deduction and reasoning to help his father figure out exactly what is going on, who is behind the seemingly supernatural events, and how they can stop the villains before they destroy society as a whole!
And throughout the entire book, Darkus tries to keep away from emotions that will only get in the way of his crime-solving; however, he can't keep fighting the desire to win his father's approval and love, something he has been missing so desperately for the past four years. It creates a tension between the father and son that readers will actually feel and want resolution before the book ends!
Mystery! Conspiracy! Humor! Family drama! This one has it all, and it kept my attention page after page after page. All in all a fun read that makes me want to run out and buy the second book now!
RATING: 8 abandoned tube stations out of 10 for providing a brand new take on the children's mystery genre - a father and son detective team!