The 100-Year-Old Secret is the first title in The Sherlock Files, a new mystery series created by Tracy Barrett. Middle-grade readers are introduced to Xena Holmes, 12, and her younger brother, Xander, who have a penchant for games. The siblings accompany their mother, a product tester, on a year-long stay in London. They soon find excitement in the seemingly dreary city when they receive a cryptic invitation to join the Society for the Preservation of Famous Detectives and discover that the legendary SherlockHolmes was their great-great-great-grandfather. The SPFD hands over the famous detective's book of unresolved cases, and when another rainy day looms over Xena and Xander, the pair chooses a case to solve. The first one to catch their attention is the missing painting, "Girl in a Purple Hat," by fictional artist Nigel Batheson. The case also coincides with an upcoming Batheson exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum. With the help of some of their mother's new gadgets, Watson's great-great-great-nephew (who still carries a grudge for his ancestor's lack of limelight), and of course, deductive reasoning, it's elementary that Xena and Xander are destined to follow in the footsteps of their namesake. Copyright 2008 BookPage 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.
Library Media Connection Reviews 2009 March/April
Even though Holmes siblings Xena, 12, and brother Xandu, 10, share the same name with the famous detective, it isn?t until they spend a year in London that they find out they are actually descendants of Sherlock Holmes. One case, the theft of the famous painting Girl in the Purple Hat, went unsolved by Sherlock for more than 100 years. When Xena and Xandu start following clues to the missing painting, Xena soon theorizes that the girl posing in the painting was actually the artist?s son Robert and that he was so embarrassed by it, he stole the painting. Xena and Xandu research where Robert attended boarding school and find the painting hidden behind a wall in the room Robert occupied. The mystery is simplistic (If the two children can figure it out so quickly, why couldn?t Sherlock 100 years before?), but this fast-paced novel will keep younger readers engaged from beginning to end. Recommended. Bonnie L. Raasch, Media Specialist, C. B. Vernon Middle School, Marion, Iowa ¬ 2009 Linworth Publishing, Inc.
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[Page 134]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.