About the Book:
When baby Max is kidnapped during Mardi Gras, Jane and Kyle Madison’s life falls apart. What their daughter, Melanie, does next is unthinkable.
Max vanished into thin air while in the care of his teenage sister, Melanie. Six months later, the family is a shadow of its former self: Melanie blames herself and is acting out and rebellious; Jane is obsessed with finding Max; and Kyle, a lawyer, struggles to cope with his own grief—and a persistent suspicion that one of his cases is connected to Max’s disappearance.
With her family in turmoil and her marriage on the rocks, Jane thinks things can’t get any worse. Then when an affair and an unexpected pregnancy threaten to tear the Madisons’ lives apart, an anonymous caller leads to a break in the case. Can a second kidnapping bring their family back together?
My Comments: Missing Max: A Novel was a fun easy read with a little suspense. However, I think reading it requires a heavy suspension of disbelief. In other words, I found the basic plot highly unlikely to occur. I always enjoy reading novels set in and around my home in New Orleans, but Missing Max: A Novel could have used a pre-publishing read-through by someone from New Orleans. The precipitating event for the whole book was a kidnapping that took place on Mardi Gras Day. The dad, an attorney, was at his office on Poydras Street while his wife and kids were in the French Quarter watching a parade lumber down Bourbon Street. If dad was an attorney who had an office on Poydras Street, he likely had a reserved parking space in the building, and that's where the family car was parked. After going upstairs to use the facilities (only building tenants with potty passes allowed in) the whole family would have walked to St. Charles to see the parade. No one in Dad's office would have been working on Mardi Gras; if Dad really needed to work, he would have stayed home. One reason they would have caught the parade on St. Charles is because Mardi Gras parades aren't allowed in the French Quarter, except for a couple of very small parades well before Fat Tuesday. Anyone with any sense at all knows that you don't take kids or teens to the French Quarter on Mardi Gras--that's adult territory. Families belong on St. Charles and indecent exposure there will get you arrested, not beads. The kidnapped baby's stroller was found at the Riverwalk--which is a mall that is locked up tight on Mardi Gras.
Missing Max: A Novel is the story of what happens to the parents and sister of a baby who is kidnapped. As often happens in such situations, each is dealing with his or her own grief, and each is also dealing with guilt--Dad was at the office rather than with the teen, so Mom had to take her to the parade; Mom was getting snacks when the kidnapping occurred--she had left the baby with the teen and her (Mom's) best friend, who responded to an emergency. The teen was flirting with some boys on the float and when she turned her head back, the stroller was missing. As also happens in such situations, the family members pull away from each other in their grief. It is Christian fiction though only mildly so. At the beginning of the book, Jane, the mom, just doesn't have time for religion or church. Her friend encourages her to go to church but she'd rather relax on Sunday morning. When baby Max is lost, she is angry at God; then towards the end she realizes that God is there for her, and she decides to start going to church--but like much of the book, it just doesn't ring true, or maybe it is more accurate to say that it seemed more like she was accepting a way to spend time with a friend than like she had really acquired faith--kind of like she finally agreed to go with her friend to get her nails done on Sat. morning. The religion in the book wasn't preachy, but it really didn't seem to have anything to do with the story. There is a real pro-life moment .
As I said before, it is a fun read, I really figured out pretty quickly that it would have a happy ending; the tone just wasn't dark enough for any other conclusion. In a lot of ways I could identify with Jane's "keep busy so you don't have to deal with the pain" way of handling things. I found the teen daughter's solution far-fetched--or at least the reasoning behind it was far-fetched. Still, the plot moved and kept me engaged and besides a few eyerolls when the author talked about New Orleans, I did enjoy the read.
Thanks to Rebeca at Glass Roads for the complimentary review copy of this book.