Lori wants to be a detective but, so far, the most exciting mystery she has solved is the disappearance of her nan’s specs down the side of the sofa. Max is the new girl at school and Lori is asked to look after her. Max is odd. She doesn’t fit in – but then Lori doesn’t really fit in either.
When some charity money goes missing and Max disappears, Lori seems to be the only person who doesn’t think Max has stolen it and run away. Even the police don’t want to investigate and suddenly Lori finds she has a real crime on her hands.
A fast-paced detective story that encapsulates the power of friendship in the face of serious social issues, including bullying, depression, addiction and poverty. Told from both girls point of view, each with their own distinctive voice, Lori and Max is by turns funny and sad, but brims with hope and possibly.
The two girls live very different lives, but Catherine O’Flynn shows how the things in life that make us stand out are the things that can bring us together. Lori is the daydreaming detective, an orphan who feels very different to her classmates but is determined to fly under the radar, until her resolve to crack the case and find her friend sees her step out of the shadows and show who she truly is. Catherine’s depiction of Max, a child carer living in poverty is skillfully done, creating a character who is brave, caring and fiercely protective of herself, her family and their secrets.
The setting feels very familiar, from the classroom, to the girls’ homes, to the banks of the river in the park. There are no bumbling police, just officers doing their jobs, but missing the clues that Lori picks up on through the familiarity of her routine observations of school life and knowing her friend so well.
At just 182 pages, this is a page turning, plot twisting crime novel that builds suspense and danger, while providing much to think about.
About the Author
Catherine grew up in the inner-city of Birmingham, the youngest of six children born to Irish parents. Her mother was a teacher whose struggles with alcohol and whose own father’s addiction to gambling clearly inform the storyline of Lori and Max. Her father owned a sweetshop in which he worked all hours and which too plays a part in the storyline. With a considerable age gap between her and her older siblings, Catherine felt more like an only child and retreated into a fantasy world of pretending she was a detective. She would record the number plates of cars stopping outside the bank in case of a robbery. It was never her ambition to be a writer yet Catherine realises now that the observations and note-taking as part of her fantasy set her up perfectly for the career.
Her Costa-winning debut book for adults, What Was Lost, featured 10-year-old junior detective Kate Meaney, so the step into children’s crime fiction with Lori and Max is a natural transition for the author. Indeed, Catherine thinks it is the book she was always meant to write.
Huge thanks to Fritha and Firefly Press for sending my a copy for review.