Thursday, 23 January 2014

Knightley & Son

Knightley & Son
Rohan Gavin
London, Bloomsbury, 2014, 329p

Sherlock Holmes has been in the forefront of my mind over the last couple of weeks, following the final episode in the most recent series and many fascinating discussions with my friend who is studying Arthur Conan Doyle for her PhD (see her progress here).

So when I picked up Knightley & Son, I was a little worried it might be a step too far, as it draws very explicitly from the classic tropes of Sherlockian detective stories. But I was surprised to find myself engrossed with a clever, action-packed story about a father and son detective team and their mission to understand what is causing unexplained mayhem throughout the nation.

A new book, The Code, is shooting up the best seller charts, offering life advise to all it's readers. But it is also the only link between several unusual recent crimes, committed by individuals with no criminal history and no other link to each other. When Alan Knightley awakens from a four year long coma, Scotland Yard come calling, hoping the brilliant detective might be able to solve the mystery. Knightley's son, Darkus, insists on coming along, soon proving himself invaluable to the investigation. 

The story is told from the perspective of Darkus, who possesses every Sherlockian characteristic going. He is socially awkward but highly intelligent. He dresses beyond his years and talks with the widest vocabulary I've ever seen. And he takes after his father, who is equally independent and perceptive. Knightley wants to protect his son from danger, but comes across as being distant and patronising, especially as Darkus shows how useful he can be. 

There is a little magic behind the evil in this novel - it is not a straight forward mystery. But it is perfectly constructed and executed. Rohan Gavin is a fresh and thoughtful writer, taking his audience on a clearly signposted path where everything is explained thoroughly and planned in detail. 

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