by Cynthia Voigt
Alfred Knopf, 2014. Fiction. 355 p.
Max Starling is a turn-of-the-century, twelve-year-old who has been forced to support himself as a "solutioneer" (think detective) because of his parents' sudden disappearance in book 1 of the "Mister Max" series, The Book of Lost Things. In this second adventure, Max must assume a variety of disguises and roles to figure out who has been vandalizing local small businesses. He must also use all his finesse to discover the identity of a mystery girl, who dresses like a servant, but carries herself like a fine lady. All the time, he and his grandmother puzzle over odd clues that suggest Max's missing parents might be in real trouble. Voigt has a keen insight into human nature and the characters of Max, his grandmother, and their closest friends, Ari and Pia are all richly drawn. More contemplative than action packed, this is a mystery series for children who enjoy the world of the mind.