Few detectives have the notoriety at age twelve that Max Starling enjoys. Well, technically, Max is not a detective; he’s a self-declared “solutioneer”, someone who finds solutions to other people’s dilemmas. He began his profession while trying to find his missing parents, but quickly discovered that it is often easier to solve someone else’s problem than one’s own.
Max and Grammie are growing increasingly concerned that Mr. and Mrs. Starling are in grave danger. Meanwhile, the citizens of Queensbridge are becoming more and more alarmed as a series of fires breaks out among the local shopkeepers. The Mayor approaches “Mister Max” for assistance after the police have exhausted all their leads. Like all of Max’s other clients, the Mayor cannot see through the boy’s disguise and never guesses that this mysterious character with unusual eyes is really just a taller than average pre-teen. Max, for his part, has become somewhat selective about which cases he takes. Having discovered his father’s hidden fortune, Max only continues working to maintain his independence. He can afford to avoid any job that may compromise his secret identity or put him in danger. His sense of responsibility, however, compels him to risk both by helping the authorities to rid the streets of arsonists.
Cynthia Voigt resumes Max Starling’s story in this sequel to Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things. Once again Max proves himself to be a clever, perceptive boy whose sense of justice is tempered with compassion. Voigt’s complex characters have strengths and weaknesses that give depth to their relationships. At the same time, she holds them to a high standard of behavior that enables them to admit their faults and make amends for mistakes. The book’s intertwining plots have the right measure of intrigue for the intended audience. Readers will find Voigt’s descriptive style and Max’s personality captivating and will anxiously await the conclusion of his adventure.
Jennifer Minicus is a mother and teacher living in Ridgewood, NJ.