A troubled preteen and a famous director team up to solve a mystery at the renowned Fairmont Hotel.
Jack Fair’s in trouble. The evil aunt that took him in after his darling mother’s passing has gone missing, leaving behind only a ransom note and a pesky chinchilla. Jack happens to live in the lavish Fairmont Hotel, and the guest across the hall that offers to help Jack with his trouble is none other than the distinguished moviemaker Alfred Hitchcock. With few clues and little time, the odd couple reluctantly goes about finding Aunt Edith before it’s too late. The mystery is well-laid-out, with all the clues and red herrings in the right places. Averbeck shows off his knowledge of Hitchcock-iana, but the endeavor feels somewhat exploitative when it comes to involving the man who inspired the caper. Young readers who don’t know or care about Hitch won’t be bothered, but cinéastes may ruffle at the thought of the master of suspense donning silly disguises and dressing in drag. Regardless, the author is smart enough not to overdose on cute nods to the auteur’s filmography, opting instead for macabre twists that wouldn’t be out of place in a Dahl book. An author’s note discusses the Hitchcock phenomenon, and an appendix provides a gloss on all the films used as chapter titles.
A fine read and a decent love letter to all that Hitchcock stood for. (Mystery. 8-14)