Saturday, August 23, 2014

Review: The Ghost and Max Monroe Case #1: The Magic Box by L. M. Falcone

When Max Monroe discovers an old detective agency in his grandfather's backyard, he also uncovers a spooky secret: the ghost of his great-uncle Larry! Max has always been obsessed with mystery books, so when Larry is given a second chance to prove he's a capable detective, they team up to help find a missing birthday girl. Can they rule out the many suspects -- including a clown and a practical joker -- before the birthday girl's mom comes home? The Magic Box is the first mystery in The Ghost and Max Monroe series, featuring a sharp ten-year-old detective and his frightfully funny sidekick. Ideal for emergent readers, the books feature short sentences and snappy dialogue, and chapters are divided into easily digestible segments.
I'm not sure if there are any interesting detective series for kids out in the market today, but if there isn't, this book series should certainly fill the void.

In The Ghost and Max Monroe, Max moves in with his grandfather one summer. There, he finds an abandoned detective agency and his great-uncle Larry who is now a ghost. Great-uncle Larry was a terrible detective, and he longs for the day when he can actually help solve a mystery. Before they both know it, Larry and Max are asked to help solve the mystery of a girl who disappeared during a magic show. Will they be able to find the girl before her mother comes home and finds the girl missing?

When I was a kid, I used to love reading Nancy Drew and the Bobbsey Twins books. The books were short and easy to read. The Ghost and Max Monroe felt a little shorter than that to me, although it could probably just because I'm older now and I read a lot faster than I used to.

The action is quite fast-paced in this book. The dialogue is funny too, although when they found the culprit, I half-expected that person to say, "And I would have gotten away with it, if it hadn't been for those meddling kids!", like what happens in Scooby Doo mysteries.

At the start of each scene, there's a phrase at the top that's taken from somewhere within the scene's text. I'm not quite sure why, but I'm guessing it's to give a preview of what's coming next. Personally, I find it a little bit distracting, but it does help separate the different scenes from each other.

Kids will enjoy solving the mystery alongside Max. This one's easy enough if you pay attention to the clues given, but subtle enough that you won't notice it if you're not looking for anything in particular.

Thanks to NetGalley and Kids Can Press for the e-ARC. Publication date of The Ghost and Max Monroe Case #1: The Magic Box is on September 1, 2014.


  1. The mystery is easy to solve but only if you pay attention.
  2. It's an easy read.
  3. It's fast-paced. 


  1. Some people may find it too short. 

Harry grinned. "Madam, the sign says, Fill a bag. Well, this -- is a bag!" 

  1. Your child likes fast-paced books.
  2. Your child likes detective novels.
  3. Your child gets bored easily. 




Note: This post contains Amazon and Book Depository affiliate links.

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