Knightley and Son
By Rohan Gavin
Reviewed by Ardy
Having been raised on children’s crime fiction, I’ll always have a bit of a soft spot for it. Therefore, I was very pleased to be reviewing Rohan Gavin’s debut novel, Knightley and Son, which is aimed at the younger readership.
Darkus Knightley is a perfectly ordinary thirteen-year-old… apart from his name, his brainpower, his fondness for tweed, and the fact that his dad left him a box of top-secret files before he went into a coma four years before the events of the book.
The basic plot goes something like this: Darkus’ dad Alan, who used to be a private detective (London’s finest, if you must know) conveniently comes out of his four-year coma at the start of half-term. A few days before this happens, people start committing crimes, seemingly for no reason. Darkus and Alan Knightley take it upon themselves to get to the bottom of things and trace it all down to a best-selling self-help book that the perpetrators all owned – but that’s only the beginning.
My inner twelve-year-old took to Darkus pretty much instantly. He’s a bit of a nerd and outsider at his school, and the reason he gets to have adventures with his dad is because he read all of his dad’s old cases, and he’s very good at memorising. Plus, if you’ve just come out of a coma, you’re going to need a helping hand every now and again.
On the whole, this is very much a boys’ own adventure story with all the trappings: There are mysterious bad guys in the form of an organisation called The Combination, there’s Darkus’ classmate Tilly – a kick-ass girl along for the ride – and there is a mystery with sufficiently high stakes. In the middle of it all, there are father and son trying to figure out the mystery as well as their relationship to each other.
Gavin has, by his own admission, taken his cues for Darkus’ characterisation and description from Sherlock Holmes. He’s also infused the narrative with a lot of action that covers family drama as well as an engaging crime plot. At times, it reminded me of the Artemis Fowl books, another children’s series which I greatly enjoyed.
It definitely ticks a lot of boxes for “bookish” readers such as me, but those who like their car chases and near-death situations will also find themselves catered for. Clocking in at just over 300 pages, it’s a quick and enjoyable read that I’d recommend for the young Sherlockian, crime aficionado, or action fan in anyone’s life. You’d probably also like to know that it’s the first in a series, so there’s more to come – I for one am looking forward to that!