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A Hitch at the Fairmont

Review

A Hitch at the Fairmont

written by Jim Averbeck, illustrated by Nick Bertozzi

Following the death of his mother, 11-year-old Jack Fair is sent to live with his aunt in San Francisco’s prestigious Fairmont Hotel. Aunt Edith has a serious sweet tooth, but shows her nephew only bitter malice. When Jack returns one night from buying her chocolates, he discovers that the formidable woman has vanished. A ransom note is his only clue.

Enter Alfred Hitchcock, famed film director and expert in all things macabre. Luckily for Jack, the Master of Suspense is staying across the hall. With a bit of prodding, Hitchcock helps Jack in his mission to track down the kidnappers. But does Aunt Edith deserve rescuing? And what is the truth behind the death of Jack’s mother? The investigation sets Jack and Hitch on the trail of a secret society, a lost fortune and cutthroat villains to spare. In true Hitchcockian fashion, ordinary characters are thrust headfirst into danger. Even the most crowded and public of spaces aren’t safe.

A well-paced thriller that is sure to spark kids’ interest in Hitchcock’s oeuvre

.A HITCH AT THE FAIRMONT, Jim Averbeck’s playful tribute to an iconic director, features a richly imagined mise-en-scène. Averbeck nails the specifics of 1950s San Francisco, taking readers on a whirlwind tour of the city’s landmarks from Chinatown to Fisherman’s Wharf, and ending with a heart-stopping finale at the Golden Gate Bridge. The action is easy to visualize, thanks in part to illustrator Nick Bertozzi’s storyboards at the top of each chapter.

Averbeck sometimes crosses the line between homage and parody. There’s a little bit too much camp --- not quite in keeping with the real Hitchcock’s dry humor. Still, A HITCH AT THE FAIRMONT is a well-paced thriller that is sure to spark kids’ interest in Hitchcock’s oeuvre. To get them started, Averbeck has included synopses and background on some of his personal favorites. Those like me who are already fans will enjoy hunting for references to the director’s themes and McGuffins within the story.

Reviewed by Emma Kantor on June 25, 2014

A Hitch at the Fairmont
written by Jim Averbeck, illustrated by Nick Bertozzi

  • Publication Date: June 24, 2014
  • Genres: Mystery
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 1442494476
  • ISBN-13: 9781442494473