Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things
A Mister Max Novel by Cynthia Voigt
Review: When 12-year-old Max Starling agrees to meet his parents at the shipdocks, where they have booked passage on the Flower of Kashmir bound for India, he's dismayed when he arrives and receives a letter from them, given to him by the harbormaster, that he cannot go and instructing him that to stay with his grandmother. But he's alarmed when he learns that there is no ship sailing to India that day, indeed there is no ship named the Flower of Kashmir, in Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things, the first entry in this trilogy of stories by Cynthia Voigt.
Max returns home, and his grandmother is as concerned as he is. But there is little they can do at this point, and with limited financial resources, Max must find a job to help support himself. No one is hiring, at least no one is hiring someone with absolutely no experience doing anything of value, and he finds himself sitting in a park when a toddler approaches him. Realizing the young boy has obviously gotten separated from his mother, he seeks her out. And when he finds her, she's so thrilled that she pays him for his service. That first "job" turns into several more as word gets around that Max — who goes by Mister Max — is a finder of lost things and, more generally, a solutioner: one who devises solutions to problems at hand.
The intended reading audience for Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things is pre-teen, about Max's age, and no doubt they will find his adventures quite entertaining. Most will appreciate his demand for independence from the watchful eye of his grandmother, and applaud his creativity in managing his limited, and by no means certain, income. The time and place aren't mentioned, but clues suggest it is early 20th century England, when it wouldn't be uncommon for 12-year-old boys to be off on their own. What adult readers might find odd, however, is how many of the people Max meets seem to assume he is much older, late teens or early twenties. It's a bit of a disconnect that is hard to reconcile within the context of the story. Still, the cases he solves are entertaining for what they are, and presumably there are more to come in future books. The overarching storyline is the mystery of what happened to Max's parents. They are largely forgotten after the first few chapters, and really only mentioned again at the end when Max and his grandmother deduce they are in South America, possibly against their will, though what they are doing there is unknown.
Acknowledgment: Random House provided an eARC of Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things for this review.
Review Copyright © 2013 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things: England
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Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things by Cynthia Voigt — A Mister Max Novel
Publication Date: September 2013
List Price: $16.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
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