The Beast of Blackslope (The Sherlock Files Series #2)

The Beast of Blackslope (The Sherlock Files Series #2)

4.0 10
by Tracy Barrett, John Allen Nelson

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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


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?

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—Xena and Xander Holmes, vacationing in the English village of Blackslope, find themselves in the middle of a unsolved mystery in this installment (Clarion, 2010) in the series by Tracy Barrett. The brother and sister are great-great-great grandchildren of the famous Sherlock Holmes and have the detective's cold case notebook. Residents claim to see and hear a beast-like creature during the night, just like they did a hundred years ago. Are the two cases related? The suspects are plentiful because of the potential profit involved. The local bookstore owner wrote a book about the beast that has not sold well and their playmate, Trevor, is trying to earn money for a trip to Australia. Xena and Xander unwittingly stumble upon the perpetrators while following one of their suspects. However, they are still left scratching their heads about Sherlock's case. American and British accents are used by narrator Joseph Allen Nelson, but the reading is a bit flat. Some sound effects could have boosted the level of suspense. The plot is similar to a Scooby Doo mystery, but does not have the same characterization. Nonetheless, children will find this an enjoyable listen.—Lori A. Guenthner, Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Baltimore, MD
Children's Literature - Phyllis J. Perry
This second book in a series based on the unsolved cases of Sherlock Holmes is set in a peaceful English village. The great-grandchildren of the famous detective are spending a holiday in the country away from the bustling city during a year in which their father has taken an assignment in London. Xena Holmes, the older of the two siblings, is adventuresome and physically strong. Her younger brother Xander has a photographic memory which comes in handy when investigating cases, but he also has a phobia about wild animals. This makes him none too eager to explore in the woods and try to try track down the mysterious howling that they hear. Both are expert at playing The Game in which, just like their great-grandfather, they use very careful observation of details to make skilled deductions. When it seems that a monster has come back to terrorize the town after a hundred years, the two young detectives set to work. Fast pacing, interesting characters and setting, and the satisfaction of solving a mystery will help make up to readers for what they may find to be a somewhat disappointing ending. Part of "The Sherlock Files" series. Reviewer: Phyllis J. Perry
Kirkus Reviews
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. (Mystery. 8-12)
From the Publisher

“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… A fun series continues unabated.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Solid detective work, and a zippy pace make this a nice choice.” —Booklist

“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… Fans of Ron Roy's popular "A to Z Mysteries" series (Random) will delight in graduating to this series.” —School Library Journal

Product Details

Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication date:
Sherlock Files Series, #2
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

The Beast of Blackslope

By Barrett, Tracy
Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Copyright © 2009

Barrett, Tracy
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780805083415

Chapter 1



Owoo-oo-ooo! The sound drifted through the air to the park where Xena and Xander Holmes were lying on their stomachs in the grass.

            “What was that?” Xena sat up and pushed back her long dark hair. The eerie wailing sound had come from way off in the distance. It interrupted the Game she and Xander were playing and made her skin prickle.

            Xander stared toward the woods. “Um, a siren?” He didn’t really believe it, though. That had been a weird noise. It gave him goose bumps.

            “I guess.” Xena wasn’t convinced either. “A wolf, maybe? Do they have wolves here in England?”She knew Xander had been reading up on natural history for school. Xander had a photographic memory. He would remember any mention of wolves—especially because he had a phobia about wild animals.

            “Nope.” Xander shook his head. “No wild ones, anyway. The English killed them all by the eighteenth century. And there can’t be a wolf sanctuary or anything like that near here or Mom and Dad would have definitely mentioned it. And I would have convinced them to pick someplace else for vacation.”

            “Well, maybe a dog, then.” But Xena still felt uncomfortable. She’d never heard a dog make such a spooky sound. And now she felt that there was something creepy about the quiet town square in this little village. She shivered and decided to change the subject. If Xander thought there were wolves, or even something like them, nearby, he’d refuse to do any of the outdoor activities their parents had planned. “Let’s play some more,” Xena said. “It’s still two-one, your favor.”

            Their father had taught them the Game, and his father had taught him, and his father had taught him, all the way back to the inventor of the Game: their great-great-great-grandfather, Sherlock Holmes. They had found out only a few weeks ago that they were descended from the famous detective, and they had already solved one of the cases in his notebook of unsolved mysteries.

            The Game was a good way to sharpen their detecting skills. The rules were simple: figure out something about passersby—like their job, where they come from, or what kind of mood they’re in—just by observing them.

            “I wonder where everyone went,” Xander said. “It’s not dark yet and there were lots of people around until a few minutes ago. How can we play the Game?”

            “Here comes somebody.” Xena narrowed her eyes at the figure walking down the side of the road next to the park. Xander was getting altogether too good at the Game, maybe even better than she had been at his age. But she was two years older, and she was determined to win this round.

            “Hmmm,” Xander muttered. It was a kid about twelve years old, like Xena. How can I figure him out? he wondered. There’s nothing unusual about him.

            The boy gave them a quick smile as he passed. He had a freckled face, an upturned nose, and curly light brown hair. Xander saw a grin of triumph on Xena’s face. Oh no—what had she seen?

            “City kid!” she said, and Xander looked at the boy again. The boy stumbled over something and almost fell. He disappeared around a corner.

            Xander groaned, because in that last second he too had spotted the monthly tube pass sticking out of the boy’s back pocket. It looked just like the transit passes the two of them used to get to school and around London.

            “Ha!” Xena said. “Two each! And the second one you got didn’t really count.”

            “Did too,” Xander said.

            “Oh, okay.” Xena could afford to be generous, because she had caught up. She stretched out on the grass and waited for another person to go by. This village seemed like a good place for their vacation, and she was excited about being somewhere other than London. Not that London wasn’t a great city. She was really glad their dad had taken a one-year job there. She still missed her friends back home in the States, but she and Xander were attending a really cool school with kids from all over the world, and most of them were nice. She had even started liking Andrew Watson, whose great-great-great-grandfather had been Sherlock Holmes’ best friend, and who went to their school.

            Thinking of Sherlock reminded Xena of something. “Xander, you did remember to pack the notebook, didn’t you?”

            “Of course! You think I’d forget Sherlock’s cold-case files? It’s our best treasure.”

            One week after they arrived in London, Xena and Xander had found the secret meeting place for the Society for the Preservation of Famous Detectives—or the SPFD.  The members of the SPFD believed that because Xena and Xander were Sherlock Holmes’ descendants, they had the potential to be great detectives. The SPFD gave them Sherlock’s notebook of unsolved cases, and Xander and Xena realized that some of those cases could still be cracked.

            “We never would have found the lost painting without the clues in the notebook,” Xena said. She and Xander had solved the case of a painting that had been missing for over a hundred years.

            “It would be so cool to be able to solve another mystery,” Xander said. “Not much chance of that on vacation, though. Do you think—”

            Ooo-ooo-OOOOOOO! They both froze as the howl drifted down from the forest. It started long and low, rose to a higher pitch, then dropped again before dying out.

            “No way that was a siren!” Xena said. “Let’s find out what it was!” She leaped up and started to run in the direction of the eerie sound. When Xander didn’t answer she glanced over her shoulder.

            Xander had disappeared.


Excerpted from The Beast of Blackslope by Barrett, Tracy Copyright © 2009 by Barrett, Tracy. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Tracy Barrett is the author of the Sherlock Files books, as well as several other acclaimed books for young people, including King of Ithaka, Cold in Summer and Anne of Byzantium. Her books have been named an ALA Best Book for young adults, a Bank Street best children's book of the year, and a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age, among other honors. She is a professor of Italian language and civilization at Vanderbilt University and lives with her family in Nashville, Tennessee.

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The Beast of Blackslope (The Sherlock Files Series #2) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Raul Sague More than 1 year ago
I think that this book is very intresting and that kids like me would love to read it.
MEESH74 More than 1 year ago
My son is 8 and he LOVES this series! Easy to read and has plenty of suspense to keep you reading on. Mommy gives this book and the series 2 thumbs up!
Jeff Hlister More than 1 year ago
The most spooky book you've ever read . I LOVE this book!!!! If you enjoyed this book you should read the others. 100 year old secret. Time travaler
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read the first 4 books n loved them all!!!!! U will love this series like i do!!!!!!! :):):):):):):):):):)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Better than the first but a little scary.
InTheBookcase More than 1 year ago
A great mystery for the amateur detectives Xena and Xander Holmes, descendants of the Great Sleuth himself. A beast has returned after decades of an absence, and is bent on terrorizing the town of Blackslope at night. Armed with Sherlock Holmes' notebook of clues he had collected on the beast years ago, this brother and sister duo aim to find out the source of the terrifying creature. It's a fun read, and I looking forward to checking out the other books in the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book hyptized me and made me keep on reading when i had to practice i could stop but my mom made me stop so i would go to pratice o and by the way the people who give this book a bad rateing they are a idiot and apiece of crap and a lier and a piece of junk with no mind
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book didn't even make sense. They didn't even solve the case