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Max & Maddy and the Chocolate Money Mystery    by Alexander McCall Smith & Macky Pamintuan order for
Max & Maddy and the Chocolate Money Mystery
by Alexander McCall Smith
Order:  USA  Can
Knopf, 2007 (2007)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Alexander McCall Smith, famed for his No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency novels, extends his mysteries for the younger crowd (launched with Harriet Bean) in this new Max & Maddy series. The siblings are the offspring of world-class private investigators, Mr. and Mrs. Twist, whose once thriving business was destroyed by the machinations of a villain, Professor Claude Sardine. (he leaves sardines at the scene of his crimes as calling cards). Now the Twists operate a small ice cream parlor, offering really good ice cream in thirty-seven flavors!

The Twists encourage their children's interest in detection. After Max & Maddy win a grand Clue competition, they're contacted by Swiss banker Conrad Huffendorf to solve a series of bank robberies, offering as a reward either cold cash or (yumm) Swiss chocolate. With their parents' permission, the duo travel to meet the banker, who shares surprising information about the robbers - they're all dogs! Max soon has a plan, which starts with borrowing - and advertising - a splendid St. Bernard named Rudolf, and continues in a romp of an adventure up and down a snowy mountain in a cable car (poor Max is afraid of heights.) They foil their family's nemesis and claim a reward, but are in turn threatened by the nefarious villain. What will he do next?

Alexander McCall Smith's story is, as always, imaginative and great fun, while Macky Pamintuan's black and white drawings make it more real and give a sense of people and place. With detection in their genes, I'm sure Max & Maddy will have many more engaging adventures.

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