Children's Book Reviews

Sunday, June 22, 2014

How Can You Go Wrong ~ Hitchcock and a Teen Mystery!!

In the late 60's and into the 70's I went to the National Film Theatre in London to see all the old Hitchcock films, even collecting books on how he made his films. What a delight that Jim Averbeck sent me his new book to review ~ a fellow Hitchcock fan as well as a children's book writer!! It's a touch of heaven to be in this coterie. To make the delight even more delicious, this book takes place in my home city of San Francisco recalling many of the places I visited as a child. On top of all that I couldn't put the book down. I'm for sure recommending it for all the young people I know, ages 9 - 90 as I bet they'll love the unwinding mystery and root for 11 year old Jack Fair as we works alongside the maestro Alfred Hitchcock. I hope you enjoy it for your summer's read.


Here is a deliciously, witty book that the young reader won’t want to put down, but then when he’s finished, he’ll wish he had more of it to read. Jim Averbeck has crafted a superb and fast-paced who-dun-it starring eleven year old Jack Fair whose mother has been killed in an automobile accident. His Aunt Edith arrives to take him to live in her suite at the classy Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. He has to put up with her making him fetch her chocolates for herself and her pet chinchilla Muffin, that is until she disappears. It’s 1956 and the man in the suite next to theirs is no other than the film maker Alfred Hitchcock, who Jack enlists to help him solve the mystery of his aunt’s disappearance. This leads to layer after layer of mystery to expose.

Jim Averbeck has created the Fairmont Hotel, and indeed San Francisco herself, more as characters than setting, reminiscing about sites still there and mourning those now gone from their original locations, like Blums and Laughing Sally. I can attest to the authenticity of Jim’s most careful research having grown up near San Francisco in that era, visiting “The City” often. As well, each chapter refers to one of Hitchcock’s movies, interweaving the motif of the movie into the plot of the book. As a fan of Hitchcock, it was fun to watch this unfold. The young reader need not know of Hitchcock’s work to enjoy the mystery of this exciting tale. She’ll just enjoy guessing what happened while deeply identifying with the orphaned Jack and his plight. It would be fun to see this book made into a movie. I highly recommend this engaging book, not just for the middle grade reader, but for the young at heart of any age.


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