Book Review: The Final Step by Ridley Pearson

Posted January 7, 2019 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 4 Comments

Book Review: The Final Step by Ridley Pearson

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Final Step by Ridley Pearson
Genres: Thriller, Mystery
Published by HarperCollins on October 30, 2018
Pages: 400
Format: Hardcover
Source: the library

Buy on Amazon
Also by this author: Unforeseen

Third and last in the Lock and Key thriller-mystery series for middle-grade readers and revolving around a contemporary Moriarty and Holmes in an American boarding school during the summer term.

My Take

Maybe ya gotta read the first two in the series to get it. I sure didn’t, but then I only read The Final Step, which is the third and last book.

I had several problems with the story. One, I couldn’t believe that Pearson had written such dreck. Two, I did not make that connection between Moriarty and Sherlock among the three main characters. Maybe I should have figured it out since Pearson does use a third person dual subjective point-of-view mostly from Moira’s perspective, although James has plenty of scope as well. And Pearson does emphasize criminal organization and Holmes. But I do hafta say I never really saw Holmes and Moriarty as friends at a school.

Sure, I’ll grant you that it is a modern twist on the Sherlock Holmes meme. In fact, it was so modern I didn’t get it. I know, I know, I’m whining. Yes, Pearson did mention their last name right at the start. So what. It’s a last name. There still wasn’t anything to make me think ooh, Holmes! As for James being so mean, etc., where? He was a jerk, but it was so mild and he could be any teenager. If it was because he’s now the leader of the Scowerers, say so. Pearson leaves so much background material out, that it’s impossible to make sense of so much of it.

It was a heck of a lot of tell and very little show — I’m giving the story the benefit of the doubt on that score. Most of the background characters Pearson includes in the form of many of the students and school personnel felt like it was thrown in “for color”. As for the way Pearson kept leaping about in the book, leaving me wondering what the heck was happening, yeah, I’m very confused and frustrated. I had to keep checking the cover to remember who wrote this.

What was all that about the woman in the “center”? Why? Why did they have to break her out?? If it was simply to keep her safe, all I can say is WTF?? There are betrayals in here that don’t make sense. Why wasn’t Moira involved in the Scowerers? Why isn’t there any reasoning behind James’ going to the dark side? What exactly are the criminal activities of the Scowerers?

Don’t waste your time, even if James does do some clever swearing: Cheese-Its. Cripes. Yeah, I’ll give you “cripes”.

The Story

Before James Moriarty and his sister Moria enrolled in Baskerville Academy, they were inseparable — as close to best friends as a brother and sister could be. But since setting foot on the boarding school’s campus, James has been different.

At Baskerville, he’s become cunning, deceptive, ruthless, sometimes reckless. And now that his roommate Sherlock Holmes has been expelled, there’s no one left to help Moira figure out what’s going on with her brother or to uncover the connection between a recent string of deaths.

To Moria, it seems obvious that someone has it out for the Moriarty family. First their father and then their family driver and now their legal guardian — clearly something is afoot. But to get the answers they need, they’ll first have to deal with an incriminating photograph, secret safe houses, and powerful enemies.

The Characters

The fourteen-year-old James Keynes Moriarty is a student at Baskerville Academy along with his twelve-year-old sister, Moira, a.k.a., Scooter, who enjoys working in the darkroom. Their father died last year in a fatal fall, which makes James the new head of the Scowerers. Their mother left them years ago.

Ralph had been their beloved bodyguard/driver who also died. Lois Agnew is their former nanny and their father’s secretary; now she’s been hired by the kids’ legal guardian to care for them. Conrad Lowry is the family lawyer and legal guardian.

Baskerville Academy is…
…a boarding school founded by the Moriartys’ great-great-grandfather. Crudgeon is the headmaster and deputy governor of the Directory. Mr Hinchman is the boys’ varsity soccer coach, who likes to hunt with his dog, Diego. Espiranzo is undercover as a groundskeeper with his main job to keep an eye on James. Mr Royce runs the Starcatcher Club. Ms Pancell is Stacey’s dorm mistress; Ms McKower is Lexie’s dorm mistress. Mr Cantell is a hall monitor. Mrs Furman.

Alexandria “Lexie the Loser” Carlisle used to be James’ girlfriend. No, we have no idea why she “used to be” nor do we know why she’s still hanging around. Sherlock “Sherlost” Holmes, a.k.a., Lock, used to be James’ roommate who brought out the best in James. Until Sherlock was expelled. Who knows why he was expelled and why James doesn’t/does like him?

Maverick Maletta, Ryan Eisenhower, Stacey Levin, Claudette, and Leith Gaines are some of James’ gang? confederates? Natalie, Moira’s roommate, has a nice camera. Bret Thorndyke is huge. Carol Johansen is a tall girl from Minneapolis. Charity Kennedy and Tiffany Randall think DeSaun Campbell looks good in a swimsuit. Leilani. George Platen is a sad dog. Tim Wormser is a set designer for school plays. Ruby is a whiz on the computer.

Bricks is the school dorms. A wombat is a nickname for dorm janitors.

The Scowerers is…
…a criminal organization based in the school basement and led by James. The Directory is their board of directors that includes Kennedy Wilkes, Marion Finley, Roger Albright is the secretary regent, and Ewa Latak serves as parliamentarian.

Mathias Hildebrandt used to be with an FBI director who blackmailed his way into the Scowerers. Squeaky Soles and Swishy Pants are Hildebrandt’s bodyguards.

Detective Superintendent Colander is with Interpol.

The Meirleach appear…
…to be the Scowerers’ rivals in Europe. Magnus is one of their agents.

Clarence Offel is the manager of a jewelry store. Ginny Lonstadt runs Sugar Maple Cleaners. The Gadwall Specialist Center is a huge institution where Marvin Hoshcenfelt is a pharmacy tech while Dr Kamat is an admitting doctor. Harold Colletti, a security guard, died on the scene.

The Cover and Title

The cover does reinforce the series name with that huge keyhole James stands inside of at the bottom of the stone steps. He’s almost in silhouette wearing that trench coat in his superhero pose with that bright green light flaring around him. At the very top in yellow-green is an info blurb with a slightly embossed author’s name immediately below it. Underneath that, in the largest text (which really ticks me off, as I always think it must be the title!!) is the series information in an embossed and textured white. The teeny, angled title is also in white below James’ left fist. At the bottom is a testimonial with the first line in white and the remaining two lines in an orange-yellow against a hazy rust background.

I’m guessing that the title is all about The Final Step taken to interrogate the impostor.

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4 responses to “Book Review: The Final Step by Ridley Pearson

    • No kidding, Priscilla! And, yeah, maybe it was just me. Maybe it was not reading the first two books. And maybe, Pearson should have rehashed a bit to give us some background! Argh…

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