Reviews of Lock and Key

Lock & Key: The Downward Spiral

“Sherlock’s characterization is spot-on,…and that alone will keep readers coming back for more.”


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Advanced Review – Uncorrected Proof
Booklist Online Exclusive: September 6, 2017
Lock and Key: The Downward Spiral.
Pearson, Ridley (Author)
Oct 2017. 432 p. Harper, hardcover, $17.99. (9780062399045).
Following the events of The Initiation (2016), James, his little sister, Moira, and Sherlock sink deep into hidden clues at Baskerville Academy and at home in Boston as they investigate James and Moira’s father’s accidental death. Over Christmas vacation, Sherlock has solved a clue left behind in a desk drawer, but that brings more questions than answers. Halting their progress is James’ involvement with a secret society, the Scowerers, at school, whose assignments are, to say the least, concerning. As James grows more and more distant, Moira feels she can only trust Sherlock, a move she hopes she won’t regret. There’s adventure aplenty, and the ending is left open for sequels that will likely further young Moriarty’s progress from schoolboy to famed villain. Modern Sherlock adaptations can be a hard sell to the middle- grade crowd, and most won’t get the sly jokes and references to the original works. Still, Sherlock’s characterization is spot-on, though, and that alone will keep readers coming back for more.
— Stacey Comfort

“While the wealthy Moriartys and their secrets are the focus , the book sparkles most when the young detective is on the scene.”

St. Louis Post Dispatch Special

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Ridley Pearson envisions famed sleuth as a teen
By Jody Mitori Special to the Post-Dispatch
October 14, 2017

Sherlock Holmes has been the subject of countless adaptations since Sir Arthur Conan Doyle first wrote about the detective in 1886. St. Louis author Ridley Pearson added his own version to the mix last year when he published “Lock and Key: The Initiation,” the first book in a series for middle readers that features the sleuth as a teen.

Set in Baskerville Academy, a boarding school in modern day Boston, “Lock and Key” is told from the viewpoint of Moria Moriarty, the younger sister of James Moriarty, who even casual fans know will become Holmes’ future nemesis. In “The Initiation” James meets his roommate, an annoying Brit named Sherlock.

The series continues with “The Downward Spiral,” full of action and foreshadowing of James’ shift to his darker side. Twelve-year-old Moria looks up to her older brother, but the two are in deep mourning after the death of their father.

The siblings deal with their grief differently. As James is lured into a secret society, Moria looks to Sherlock, aka Lock, to help her solve a family mystery. While the wealthy Moriartys and their secrets are the focus , the book sparkles most when the young detective is on the scene.

Pearson put a twist on the Peter Pan story in his and Dave Barry’s “Peter and the Starcatchers” books. Here, he plays with some of Holmes’ signature features, giving them a modern take:

“We’re conducting an investigation here, Moria! The game’s afoot!’

‘Whatever that means!’ I said.

‘It means what it says it means. Game on!’”

“Lock and Key” is another example of why Sherlock Holmes has been a star for so many years.

Jody Mitori, a former Post-Dispatch editor, lives in Kirkwood.