Alright, so Lock & Mori is a modern day, high school retelling of Sir ACD’s Holmes stories, but the best part about it is that is an entirely new mystery and therefore not really a retelling at all.
When I first started the book, I was hesitant. I grew up with Holmes and have devoured practically every adaptation since I was six, so when I saw another modern day genderbent version, I wasn’t about to get my hopes up. My problem with the genderbending of Holmes characters is that it is typically Holmes or Watson that get switched around for the pure sake of heteronormativity which urks me for a number of reasons. Finding out that Moriarty was the one who was now female and that the novel was being told from her perspective had me a little more curious than usual for this type of story.
Diving into I wasn’t impressed, but was curious enough to keep going and to spot other characters from the canon. I was looking for clues within the story to find out which canon story it was based on and nit picking the crap out of Mori’s behaviour. But then things got dark and I was hooked. You see, Mori comes from a home of terrible abuse made all the worse by the fact her father, James Moriarty Sr, is a police officer. I often find abuse victims as misrepresented in the books I’ve read where the issue comes across, but Petty gets it right. Mori is independent, intelligent, and strong but still she struggles with social interactions and is constantly working to cover up her father’s abuse so as not to arouse suspicion from the wrong people and therefore lose her brothers.
There are times where what I like to call the “real” Moriarty is shown in Mori as she is wooed by her own violent thoughts and we can see the mastermind that she truly is.
Sherlock “Lock” Holmes is a wonderful version of the classic character and accurately displays traits that a young Holmes would exhibit. He is brilliant and determined to show off his vast knowledge, but he has limitations. This is not the Holmes of the original stories. This is not a full-formed man who has been studying the details of countless subjects for years. This is a Holmes who is still learning and still developing his powers of brilliant deduction.
There is romantic tension shared by Lock and Mori, but it was written so well and so wonderfully that even though the purpose of the novel is to find a serial murderer, it didn’t feel out of place in the story, nor was it the wrong direction for the characters. Both of them are young and impulsive and it worked for their relationship and interactions in general.
When it comes to the mystery itself, I felt that it was balanced out equally with the backstory and the personal interaction plots and by the time I was closing in on the end, I was stressing out on how it was all going to end. The tension was built in precisely the right way so that it tugs your stomach into knots before you are even aware of being so entirely invested in the story.
For this next part of my review I’m going to discuss major spoilers and more about Mori’s abuse.
To double back on myself for a moment, I wanted to discuss the specifics of Mori’s abuse. The poor thing has been watching her father – who she has never been particularly close to anyway – beat the ever-loving crap out of her younger brothers. He calls her a whore. He calls her useless. He calls her a whole array of the worst things a parent could say to their child but still she stands before him and takes it for the sake of her brothers. When he beats her for the first time, it’s to the point where her face is so swollen she can’t mask it all with only make-up. And still she stands before him. I think that Mori is an incredibly important character whether you care about Holmes or not because of her strength and her determination to protect her brothers and show them that they are still loved.
At the same time, Mori thinks of all the ways things could go wrong. She covers her brothers’ injuries so teachers won’t ask questions. She stops calling the police since they only send her dad’s friends. She puts plans into place and quickly comes up with clever lies to keep her brothers’ safe and her dad from being entirely found out. Because at the end of the day, James Moriarty Sr is still her father.
Petty is able to show readers how victims of abuse, even the ones who want to stand up for themselves, are still constantly thinking of the repercussions. If they ran away, Mori and her three brothers would be homeless and unable to support themselves. If she turned him in, they would be forever seen as the children of a serial murderer. It isn’t until that she sees a way out that will benefit the lot of them that she is ready to take action and kill the man who is ruining their lives. Even if it means sacrificing herself.
Which is why it is so understandable why Mori doesn’t trust Lock anymore. He broke his promise and called the police to turn in her father. He didn’t trust her to handle things on her own and now her revenge will never be truly obtained. Her freedom will never be granted.
I honestly can’t wait to get into book two and see how Mori is able to deal with the the conclusion of his book. For something that I picked up on a whim, I am addicted.