Thirteen-year-old Darkus Knightley does not have an easy life. There's his name, for instance. Unfriendly kids at school tease him by calling him "Dorkus." Then there's his family. His parents are divorced. His father has been in a coma in a nursing home for the past 4 years. Darkus' mother has remarried and his stepfather is a cheesy TV show host. His stepsister Tilly is very rebellious and is constantly running away from school or dying her hair wild colors. Darkus, on the other hand, dresses like a middle-aged detective - like his father. He has been reading over all his father's case files in order to feel closer to him. He also visits his father at the nursing home and talks to him about the cases, although Mr. Knightley can't answer him.
The real action begins when a series of crimes committed by total strangers all have the common factor of a self-help book the strangers have read. About the same time, Mr. Knightley finally wakes up from his coma and begins pursuing the case he was working on before his medical problems. Darkus is determined to make up for lost time and insists on helping his father with the case. Tilly also wants to come along because her mother was Mr. Knightley's investigative partner before she died and Tilly wants answers. Together with Mr. Knightley's friend "Uncle Bill" and his housekeeper Bogna, they try to solve the mystery of why a self-help book would make people commit crimes and what the sinister organization known as "The Combination" has to with it all.
In a way, this story reminded me of the Mysterious Benedict Society; not because these kids have unusual mental powers, but because they combine their strengths to solve problems. (Darkus has an excellent memory for facts and a keen eye for details. Tilly is an accomplished escape artist and actress.) If you enjoy mysteries, detective stories, and a bit of danger and intrigue, then you should give this book a try. Another adventure is planned after this one, so there could be a whole series of mysteries for Knightley and Son to solve.
I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley. The book will not be in stores until April 29, 2014.