Xena and Xander have been looking forward to their vacation in the peaceful country village of Blackslope. But when a huge monster begins to terrorize the town, the young detectives are faced with a mystery that seems impossible to solve.
Sherlock Holmes, Xena and Xander’s famous ancestor, investigated the case of a horrible beast in Blackslope, but that was nearly a hundred years ago. It couldn’t be the same creature after all this time—could it?
It's one thing to discover that Sherlock Holmes was your ancestor. It's
another thing entirely to attempt to find the solutions to his
long-unsolved cases. Back for their second adventure, Xena and Xander
Holmes find that their family vacation to the sleepy village of
Blackslope yields yet another mystery for them to solve. When a
mysterious howling is heard by our heroes, none of the townspeople want
to discuss it. Why? It appears that one of Holmes's unsolved mysteries
involved an elusive Blackslope beast, never captured. The siblings
pursue a variety of clues and, after some false starts, unmask the true
culprit. Barrett plunges right into the action from the first sentence,
giving fans of classic mysteries exactly what they want: thrills,
chills, a plethora of suspects and plenty of red herrings. The solution
to Holmes's beast-related mystery is presented as more of an
afterthought than anything else, but it's doubtful any young fans will
particularly care. A fun series continues unabated.
This second entry in the Sherlock Files, which has Xander and Xena
Holmes in possession of their ancestor Sherlock’s cold-case files, riffs
a bit on The Hound of the Baskervilles, though maybe less than
one would think. The brother and sister find themselves in the country
village of Blackslope, where 100 years ago Sherlock failed to get to the
bottom of the rumors surrounding a monstrous beast in the woods, a
creature that seems to have reappeared. A few mild thrills, solid
detective work, and a zippy pace make this a nice choice, and it may
just lead kids to Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock.
— Booklist Online
Each sibling comes across as a well-drawn individual: Xander possesses a
photographic memory and a natural ability to charm adults, while Xena
is an expert eavesdropper and the one more willing to jump into action.
Barrett’s accessible writing style, straightforward vocabulary, and
relatively innocuous choice of crimes make the books appropriate for youngsters of varying age levels and reading abilities.
The action is well-paced, the clues are clearly presented, and the
characters’ deductions are logical and plausible. Share these titles
with a class, keep track of the clues on the board, and encourage your
students to draw conclusions and solve the mysteries along with the
— School Library Journal Curriculum Connections
While vacationing with their parents in an English village, supersleuth
siblings Xena and Xander, who are descendants of Sherlock Holmes, plunge
into an old mystery about a local terrorizing beast. Sketches and
comments from Holmes's own cold-case notebook, when he investigated the
case nearly 100 years earlier, together with "strange howls" in the
night and sightings of a shaggy beast lurking in the nearby woods propel
the youngsters to search for more clues. Exploring the forest, they
slide into several exciting and suspenseful adventures. Barrett
throws in enough red herrings as well as solid clues to keep ardent fans
of the genre turning the pages until the surprise denouement. She
plants the siblings' two new friends, Trevor and Ian, in key scenes at
just the right moments to allow for the possibility of either boy being
culpable in part of the mystery. Xena's methodical and calm rationality
balances with Xander's intuitive imaginativeness so that they complement
— School Library Journal
Fast pacing, interesting characters and setting, and the satisfaction of solving a mystery.
— Children's Literature
The Beast of Blackslope . . .is book 2 in this series and many
readers are glad there will be more to come. . . . The mysterious
developments will become hard to solve as there are many red herrings
which actually make this page turner perfect for the younger Sherlock Holmes enthusiast.
— Meridian Magazine
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