From the Publisher
Kirkus review, August 15, 2014:
"The well-constructed, intertwining threads of Max's growing maturity, the emerging competence of his diversely spirited friends and his recognition of their dynamic interdependence all come satisfyingly together to set up the ultimate case."
School Library Journal review, October, 2014:
"Readers will eagerly await the revelations of the third installment and hope they won’t have long to wait."
Booklist review, September, 2014:
"Voigt creates an impressive cast of idiosyncratic characters and places Max at the center of a lively narrative featuring plenty of action as well as reflection."
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—The plot thickens and the problems proliferate in Voigt's trilogy about a 12-year-old who is determined to be the master of his own fate, despite the mysterious disappearance of his parents. As in the first book, Max doesn't confine himself to discovering what has befallen his mother and father, but at the behest of the mayor, he looks into acts of vandalism and arson which have been plaguing certain neighborhoods of his city. Several of the characters met in the previous volume insist on inserting themselves into Max's "solutioneering" business, and despite his initial reluctance to accept their help, they prove themselves to be valuable allies. Max makes good use of the costumes in his parents' theater and his own acting skills get a good workout as he investigates incognito. There are moments of peril and anxiety leavened with broad humor. The hero can solve the problems close to hand, but we sense that every friend he's made will be needed to bring his parents (whose situation seems increasingly dire) safely home. Voigt's faux-melodramatic plot points ensure that none of these adventures will be taken too seriously, but readers will eagerly await the revelations of the third installment and hope they won't have long to wait for its publication.—Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Library, NY
Max is back in the second part of Voight's fine, neatly meandering mystery set early in the last century. Feisty Max is a "Solutioneer," donning costumes from his parents' now-dark theater to take on sundry roles in order to investigate mysteries. These have ramped up from merely finding and restoring things in The Book of Lost Things (2013) to now investigating numerous incidences of vandalism and arson at the behest of the mayor. The implausible conceit, that this 12-year-old can believably pass himself off as all manner of working men, works, thanks to Voigt's confident storytelling, enhanced by Bruno's quirky, detailed illustrations. Max is a determined loner, convinced of his ability to straighten out challenging issues with only minor help from his friends and grandmother. But young criminals entrap him, and it's only with lots of assistance that he wraps up the case. Meanwhile, he's haunted by messages he's received from his missing parents. He realizes they include a desperate, encoded plea for help—but also a warning of grave danger. The well-constructed, intertwining threads of Max's growing maturity, the emerging competence of his diversely spirited friends and his recognition of their dynamic interdependence all come satisfyingly together to set up the ultimate case for the last of the trilogy: the rescue of his parents from a tiny, remote South American country. Let the games continue…. (Mystery. 10-15)