Reviews for 100-Year-Old Secret

Booklist Reviews 2008 May #1
After moving from Florida to London with their parents, 12-year-old Xena Holmes and her younger brother, Xander, are surprised when a mysterious stranger presses a note into Xena's hand, mutters "It fades fast," and hurries away. They follow the note's puzzling instructions (written in rapidly disappearing ink) and discover that they are not only descendants of Sherlock Holmes but also the heirs of his notebooks and his unsolved cases. Researching 100-year-old clues, they attempt to solve a mystery involving a missing painting. The setting sets up some interesting scenes as the children explore their new city and find, among other things, that even familiar words can have unfamiliar meanings. In a nice gender-stereotype reversal, 10-year-old Xander is the child who disarms adults with his winning smile, while Xena is more likely to keep her wits about her. Although not always completely convincing, the first book in the Sherlock Files is a fast-paced, entertaining mystery. Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2008 April #1
Upon moving to their new home in London, siblings Xena and Xander Holmes immediately discover a strange but true fact: They are the direct descendants of the great detective Sherlock Holmes and have inherited his casebook of unsolved mysteries. One might think it presumptuous of two children to assume that they could succeed where the legendary sleuth had failed, but, kids being kids, they do not and find themselves almost immediately wrapped up in a case involving a missing painting. Following leads, conducting interviews and applying a little old-fashioned know-how help the Holmes kids discover the truth behind the portrait's mysterious subject and the location that has kept it safe and sound all these years. Barrett presents readers with great characters and a believable mystery solved credibly (with the help of somewhat less-than-convincing photographic memories). A strong start to what will undoubtedly remain an enjoyable series. (Fiction. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews 2008 June

Gr 4-7-- Detective stories derived from the adventures of Sherlock Holmes are well represented in juvenile literature from Donald Sobol's "Encyclopedia Brown" series to Nancy Springer's "Enola Holmes" mysteries. Welcome 12-year-old Xena Holmes and her brother, Xander, Sherlock's great-great-great grandchildren, newly arrived in London from Florida. They are playing a favorite game, guessing people's occupation by appearance, in front of their hotel when a strange man delivers a note written in disappearing ink directing them to the Dancing Men Pub. There, through a set of tests, their famous relative is revealed to them, and they are given his "Unsolved Cases" notebook. Xena, intrigued by it, soon finds a case with modern relevance--a missing portrait by Nigel Batheson, whose other works are being displayed in a nearby gallery. The siblings are off and running through a plot laced with references to the original stories and using similar devices, including a red herring. The main characters are observant, bright, and gifted with powers of deduction. Watson's great-great-great grandson, Andrew, is integral to the plot. Some clues seem to be obvious, but they can lead to a wrong conclusion. A well-paced beginning to a new series.--Kathryn Kosiorek, formerly at Cuyahoga County Public Library, Brooklyn, OH

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