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A Hitch at the Fairmont

A Hitch at the Fairmont

5.0 3
by Jim Averbeck, Nick Bertozzi (Illustrator)

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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


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.

Editorial Reviews

"A fun mystery...fast-paced with plenty of intrigue and suspense."
Patricia MacLachlan
"Clever, intelligent, and completely entertaining. Read it!"
Linda Sue Park
"A Hitch at the Fairmont is terrific...a fun plot, wonderful characters, belly-laugh humor, and lots of truly lovely writing."
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—In 1956 at the fabulous San Francisco Fairmont Hotel, 11-year-old Jack teams up with the famous movie director Alfred Hitchcock to uncover a plot involving drugged chocolates, mistaken identities, kidnapping, disguises, and close escapes. References to actual Hitchcock films and anecdotes abound throughout, in chapter headings, settings, and focused descriptions reminiscent of camera pan-ins. At one point, Averbeck even goes so far as to have the clever Jack create a scene in which Hitchcock makes a sort-of cameo appearance in costume, just as the real Hitchcock used to do in his films. Each chapter begins with a short storyboard of upcoming scenes. Although few of the intended readers for this book will have prior knowledge of the milieu, the pacing and length of scenes are right out of a 1950s Hitchcock film: slow and lingering on set pieces and build-up, broken with quick and cinematic action sequences. The back matter introduces many of the author's favorite Hitchcock films, as well as information about the real man and the real Fairmont Hotel. This is a fantastic introduction to the great filmmaker and to a 1950s sensibility of childhood and Hollywood. Unfortunately, its very nature as a long and slowly unravelling historical mystery will likely deter any but the most open-minded readers: try this with the Blue Balliett or Trenton Lee Stewart fan set.—Rhona Campbell, Georgetown Day School, Washington, DC
Kirkus Reviews
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)

Product Details

Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.50(d)
690L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

A Hitch at the Fairmont

  • Meet the Author

    Jim Averbeck is the author of One Word from Sophia, illustrated by Yasmeen Ismail; In a Blue Room, illustrated by Tricia Tusa; and of the novel A Hitch at the Fairmont. He is also the author and illustrator of the picture books Oh No, Little Dragon! and Except If. He studied Children’s Book Writing and Illustration at the University of California Berkeley and now makes his home in San Francisco. You can visit him at JimAverbeck.com.

    Nick Bertozzi has written and drawn many comics over the years, including The Salon, Lewis & Clark, and the New York Times bestselling Shackleton: Antarctic Odyssey. He’s also written the upcoming Becoming Andy Warhol. Bertozzi has won multiple Harvey and Eisner awards, the highest honors in comics. He lives in Queens, New York with his wife and daughters.

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    A Hitch at the Fairmont 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
    Cathy-Castelli More than 1 year ago
    Jim Averbeck’s A Hitch at the Fairmont is one of those novels that so wonderfully combines reality with fiction. I want to believe his depiction of Alfred Hitchcock as a lovable uncle-type who refuses to leave Jack, a recently orphaned eleven-year-old, in the hands of a social worker. I also love that the setting has its own mysteries which add to the tension of the novel. As for the story itself, Jack is a tenacious child who enrolls Hitchcock in solving the kidnapping of his Aunt Edith. There are many twists in the plot, lots of delicious chocolates, and two mysteries even bigger than a missing mean aunt. I can’t wait to get my son reading this. He’ll love it!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Awesome so far
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    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.