The Downward Spiral

432p. (Lock and Key: Bk. 2). HarperCollins. Oct. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062399045.
Gr 4–6—This sequel begins where the first book, The Initiation, ended: with the death of the elder James Moriarty, father of Moira and James. Sherlock Holmes is James's roommate at Baskerville Academy. Sherlock, Moira, and James believe that Mr. Moriarty's death was no accident. Who is responsible, and why? In the first installment, young James was initiated into a secret society, the Scowerers, that his father had led. In this follow-up, he discovers a rival secret society. Both are determined to uncover the shady dealings of Mr. Moriarty and to take over his vast international holdings. The three young sleuths attempt to decipher the clues surrounding the network while trying to avoid the threats the gangs pose. Pearson provides a nonstop stream of undercover work, thievery, ciphers, and violence that is the stuff of nightmares. On a lighter note, there is a tender romance between the cold-tempered James and a fellow student, Alexis. Meanwhile, Moira is attracted to Sherlock, who reciprocates. Readers are left with questions concerning the mysterious disappearance of Mrs. Moriarty, and James is implicated in murders of his own. While Sherlock learns the identity of Mr. Moriarty's killer, he will need proof to make the case. It will take another volume to complete this tale. Holmes's powerful intellect is fully at work in this rousing story of greed and mayhem.
VERDICT A fine option for kids who like action-packed mysteries. A must-have where the author is popular.

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