The Beast of Blackslope is the second in The Sherlock Files series by Nashville author Tracy Barrett. (Interesting side note: Eldest Daughter knows Ms. Barrett since they both teach in the language department at Vanderbilt University.) Xena and Xander are American kids living in England with their parents, part-time detectives, and descendants of the famous Sherlock Holmes. Because they are Holmes’ great-great-great grandchildren, Xena and Xander have inherited his casebook with his cold case files, notes on cases that the great detective failed to solve. One of those unsolved cases, similar to The Hound of the Baskervilles, is the Case of the Beast of Blackslope, a beast that Sherlock Holmes himself was unable to locate or capture.
Now a hundred plus years later, the Beast has reappeared in the small village of Blackslope, and Xena and Xander are determined to solve the case this time. Is there really a Beast? If so, why has it returned to Blackslope? Why are the people in Blackslope so secretive about the Beast? What is everybody hiding? Does the Beast carry off humans who disappear never to be heard of again? Who will be next?
I would give The Beast of Blackslope to the younger end of the Middle Grade Fiction age spectrum: eight, nine, ten and eleven year olds who are reading well and are mystery fans. The book reminded me of Alfred Hitchcock’s Three Investigators series, a series I’ve not thought about in ages.
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One or more of these books is also nominated for a Cybil Award, but the views expressed here are strictly my own.