By Author / Illustrator

Simon Fox


Suspense & Thrillers

Age range(s)



Nosy Crow Ltd




Paperback / softback




Perfect for fans of Alex Rider and Artemis Fowl, Simon Fox's latest action-packed thriller.   Archie Blake thought his policeman father teaching him how to pick locks and open safes was just a bit of fun. But when a diamond necklace is stolen and his dad is arrested, Archie realises the only way to prove Dad's innocence is to go on the run and use everything he's learned to uncover the truth.  But Archie soon finds himself deeply tangled in the criminal underworld, where it's hard to know who to trust and even harder to see what's right or wrong. Will Archie be able to find a way out before it's too late?

An explosive new adventure from the author of the unputdownable Running Out of Time. Simon Fox is a rising star in a new generation of thriller writers. 

Find out more about Deadlock in this Q&A with Simon Fox.



Deadlock is the second action-packed adventure from author Simon Fox. "You need to get out of the house. It's not safe." is all the warning Archie Blake gets from his dad that something is wrong - when intruders enter his house! Rendezvousing with his dad, the two aim to get to Brighton to lay low while his dad works out what to next. Fate has other plans as his dad is arrested at the train station, leaving 13-year-old Archie to fend for himself and avoid capture by the police. With no one to turn to for help, Archie finds himself in Brighton with £20, a house key, a diamond necklace and list of names, and will need all his wits, lock picking skills and courage to discover the truth about what’s going on and prove his dad is innocent.

He'll need to do this quickly as it's not just the police looking for him; a murky criminal underworld is beginning to close in on him, too. Who can you trust in a world in a world where your enemy is unknown yet a stranger may be your best and only chance of survival?

What a breathtaking and action-packed novel! Deadlock is full of action, twists and turns, all taking place over the course of a week in London and Brighton. The chapter headings are days with times which all add to the drama and suspense, helping make this a real page turner.

The action and adventure in this novel is a rollercoaster ride of a read, providing plenty of heart racing moments from the start. Archie's escape from his house and the train station had me gripped, and the scene in the jeweller's safe had me holding my breath! This was intense and my heart must have been pounding as much as Archie at that moment!

The book is full of tight and intriguing situations. There are also moments of reflection, especially the relationship between Archie and his dad, who is still recovering from the death of his mum. There are very few main characters in the book and I felt I got to know the main ones well. I really liked Archie and his clever, quick thinking in tight situations, his drive and desire to anything (including dabbling in a bit of criminal behaviour himself) to save his dad. Teenager Bunny (Sam Bunting) came across as a real sassy, no-nonsense character, very street wise and especially aware of Archie's situation. I found it intriguing seeing how she changes her opinion of Archie from wanting to get rid of him to becoming actively involved in his quest.

There are great leaps of faith for both for the Archie and Bunny but also the reader at times, and I thought a map of the areas traveled by Archie would have been useful, especially if you're not familiar with the locations. But this didn't detract from the enjoyment of this exciting story. I feel this would be a great book for upper primary school through to S2 secondary school readers who are looking for a taut thriller, full of action, adventure, chases, daring deeds, mysteries, tight situations and hold-your-breath moments! If you enjoy reading the Alex Rider or Cherub series, Deadlock should definitely be on your reading list! I hope there is a sequel.

288 pages / Reviewed by Stephen Leitch, school librarian

Suggested Reading Age 9+


Deadlock is a fast-paced action thriller, which is recommended by its publisher for readers who have enjoyed the Alex Rider series.

The main character, Archie, and his Dad are caught up in a deadly criminal scheme which puts his Dad, a senior police officer,  into prison and Archie into hiding. Archie teams up with Bunny, a reformed criminal's daughter, to prove his Dad's innocence and solve the mystery. But time is against him as his Dad is appearing in court shortly and he soon learns there are few people he can trust. The story also considers ethical choices made in life; to remain law-abidding or to break the law and risk the consequences.

This middle grade book is a real page turner - I read it in one sitting - and am sure it will be extremely popular in the school library with lower school secondary students. It is also suitable for upper primary school students but there is an element of peril as well as mention of murder, bereavement and it includes descriptions of a technique for coping with anxiety. The main characters are likeable and relatable and the relationship between father and son is positively portrayed.

Overall, a great adventure which offers readers a 'hard-to-put-down' adventure from the first chapter onwards. I hope the author, Simon Fox, considers a sequel.

288 pages / Reviewed by Ruth Cornish, school librarian

Suggested Reading Age 9+


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