This is an interesting new series by Newbery author Cynthia Voigt. 13-year-old Max is the son of two actors who own their own acting company. One day a letter comes in the mail inviting Max's parents to come to India to perform for the Sultan of Cashmere. Max's parents can't resist the chance to perform for royalty, but on the day they are to leave, Max "accidentally" gets left behind. He goes to live with his grandmother, but is determined to become independent. To support himself he picks up odd jobs and soon discovers he is very good at finding lost things and figuring out mysteries. He uses his parent's costumes to play different roles during his investigations. He is successful at solving every mystery, except the one about his missing parents.
This book is full of eccentric characters drawn with bold strokes. Even the minor characters are vivid and interesting. The story is interesting as well, but a little disjointed and the pacing tends to be slow. There are several mysteries that Max works on and I kept expecting them to all tie together. Some of them do, but others are just left hanging out there. The book is obviously the first in a series and it will be interesting to see if Ms Voigt will gather up the loose threads in the next book. (367 p)