Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2014
Audience: Older Children, Younger Teens
An intrepid boy teams up with Alfred Hitchcock himself in this rollicking mystery rife with action, adventure, intrigue, and all the flavor of film noir.
After the mysterious death of his mother, eleven-year-old Jack Fair is whisked away to San Francisco’s swanky Fairmont Hotel by his wicked Aunt Edith. There, he seems doomed to a life of fetching chocolates for his aunt and her pet chinchilla. Until one night, when Aunt Edith disappears, and the only clue is a ransom note written…in chocolate?
Suddenly, Jack finds himself all alone on a quest to discover who kidnapped Aunt Edith and what happened to his mother. Alone, that is, until he meets an unlikely accomplice—Alfred Hitchcock himself! The two embark on a madcap journey full of hidden doorways, secret societies, cryptic clues, sinister villains, and cinematic flair.
As a 12-year-old, I would have absolutely loved this book! Reading it as an adult, I thought about how kids today would react to it. I was kind of a... weird kid... or a nerd. I don’t know. Most kids didn’t watch old movies and read all the time, but that’s what I did. I loved The Birds and Rear Window. To this day, Rear Window is one of my favorite movies. I watch it every summer. I’m glad this book exists for kids like me. Kids who were, well, normal, probably wouldn’t appreciate this book as much.
As I read, I tried to ignore the adult voice in my head saying, “Any adult would never do that, let alone a famous one” and “That could never happen,” and “I know orphanages aren’t fun, but would he really want to find Aunt Edith, who acts like Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spicer from James and the Giant Peach???" I loved the twist, I loved the main character, I loved the jokes, and I loved the solution to the mystery. Overall, a delightful, fun mystery!