Monday, January 5, 2015

MMGM: A Hitch at the Fairmont

Happy New Year! After a very relaxing break filled with lots of reading and writing, I'm so excited to be back and sharing some of the middle grade gems I've discovered lately.

As a teen, one of the things I liked to do with my parents was watch Hitchcock movies. It was the one type of movie we could always agree on. Hitchcock introduced me to Jimmy  Stewart, one of my favorite actors, and I was never quite the same. (If you cannot tell, I had very different taste in films from my peers in the 80s.)

I was so excited when I heard about HITCH. I love mysteries, I love Hitchcock, and I especially love books where a famous person has a cameo. And in HITCH, Hitchcock doesn’t just have a cameo; he’s one of the main characters.

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.

What I loved about HITCH:
 --       The story had depth: Often in mysteries, the focus is on solving the mystery. That was the focus in HITCH as well, but I loved how Jack’s emotional plot, his desire to find out about his dad and mom, never lost focus, in fact, it was essential to the main plot.
    -- Hitchcock was a main character: I don’t think I’ve read a novel for kids where a famous person did not just play a bit part, but was central to the novel. It was a risk for Averbeck to do this, but I enjoyed getting to know Hitchcock the man.
.    --   The characters: I can’t think of a character in this book, not even the most minor, that didn’t have a rich back story. Each character, down to the elevator operator, was multi-dimensional, without taking away from the main story.
    -- I loved how the prejudice was dealt with in this story. It was really only a small scene, but I loved how Averbeck allowed Jack to be wrong about his prejudices about Chinese Americans, reminding us how often we misjudge others.
    -- Attention to small details: I loved how the chapter titles came from Hitchcock films, how Averbeck has an author’s note at the end to summarize each, how the cover looks like a Hitchcock movie poster, and how each chapter begins with a story board. All these details added to the rich atmosphere of the novel.

If you are a Hitchcock fan or love mysteries, especially with a detailed and rich plot, I think you will enjoy THE HITCH AT THE FAIRMONT. 
Have you read any good mysteries lately?

If you're looking for Marvelous Middle Grade suggestions, check out Shannon Messenger's blog.


  1. So awesome how you found a middle grade novel with one of your favorite directors as a character. and it sounds good too. Happy New Year!

  2. I remember hearing about this from other MMGM blogs. Love your enthusiasm for it! And I grew up watching Hitchcock films too, especially Marnie and The Birds.

    1. Joanne, those are two I haven't seen. I've been a little scared to watch The Birds, but I should probably see that one. I hope you get a chance to read HITCH, it's a lot of fun.

  3. I had heard about this one, then forgot to write it down. Thanks for reminding me of it. It sounds terrific.