[Book Review] The 100-Year-Old Secret (The Sherlock Files #1) by Tracy Barrett

Xena and Xander Holmes have just discovered they’re related to Sherlock Holmes and have inherited his unsolved casebook! The siblings set out to solve the cases their famous ancestor couldn’t, starting with the mystery of a prized painting that vanished more than a hundred years ago. Can two smart twenty-first-century kids succeed where Sherlock Holmes could not?

Well, this was so bad it was almost impressive.

The characters were boring.
The little boy was a super genius for no reason (for the love of god, can authors PLEASE stop using "photographic memories" as shortcuts) and his older sister was less than useless. Neither of them had any actual personality, nor were they remotely interesting to read about.

The red herring "clues" made no sense.
The big red herring is a little girl in a blonde hat and wig--just like the girl in the missing painting. It turns out that she's actually a model for some artist that's making fake versions of the painting (why does she need a model for that??? you don't need a model when you know what the actual painting looks like???) and she's been wearing the costume in public so she can "get used to it" because it's scratchy and hot??? Does that make any sense to anyone else, because it makes zero sense to me.

The only interesting character is the schoolboy arch-nemesis, and he's completely wasted.
Discount Draco Malfoy over here, Andrew Watson, is all jealous and shit because Holmes gets all the credit while his own ancestor gets overlooked. So he doesn't like Xander and Xena, Holmes' descendants. It's the sole interesting plot point in the entire book, and it's ruined before long (Andrew takes his bullying into a gross-ass patriarchal direction that I am so not here for) and then he ends up Heel-Face Turning into their friend at the end for the sole reason of them solving the case? Shouldn't that make him more jealous and angry? Nothing here makes sense!

The lynchpin of the entire mystery is toxic masculinity through the ages.
It turns out that the painting was hidden by its subject because its subject was actually a little boy, one of the artist's sons, who was so embarrassed to have been dressed as a little girl that he stole and hid away a great work of art (that he wasn't even known to be the subject of in the first place!). And Xander only figures this out because Andrew sees a picture of him in a school play during which he played a flower, and Andrew mistakes him for a little girl and proceeds to bully him because obviously there's nothing worse in the entire fucking world than being "girly".

(None of this, note, is called out as a bad thing. Boys being inherently ashamed of being remotely mistaken for or associated with girls or girly things is taken to be entirely natural, normal, and correct behavior. Right-o, then.)

The entire book is such a flimsy mess of nothing that I almost want to take it as parody.
I am shocked to see that Tracy Barrett is known for writing children's books, because this was just atrociously poorly done. It flounders around uselessly without ever developing enough substance to come together as a truly cohesive story, and it reads like a first draft that needs a lot more tweaking and tightening and thought to be put into it.

Just ugh. Ugh!

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