Maxwell's Retirement by M J Trow
|Maxwell's Retirement by M J Trow|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: It's number fifteen in the series but they're still fresh as ever and it doesn't really matter where you start. It's one of the few non-police procedurals that really works. definitely recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 368||Date: January 2010|
|Publisher: Allison & Busby|
Peter 'Mad Max' Maxwell has always been something of a dinosaur and even he realises just how far adrift he is when some of his sixth form students start receiving threatening messages on their mobiles. He might prefer to make a phone call or send a note when the need arises, but this isn't the way of the younger generation and Maxwell discovers that he's going to have to climb a steep learning curve if he's to help his students through the problem.
I'm not a fan of the 'non-police procedural' novel – that's the one where an intelligent member of the public solves a mystery which leaves the lead-footed police baffled – but there are exceptions to every rule and M J Trow's 'Mad Max' series is one of them. Before Maxwell's Retirement three reviewers had read different books and we were unanimous: we loved them. If you're normally a fan of police-procedurals then you'll enjoy these books. We promise!
It helps, of course, that Maxwell is married to a Detective Sergeant in the local force and whilst there are a lot of occasions when they're desperately trying not to tread on each other's toes, there's a general spirit of co-operation at all levels. Some of the Force might think that Maxwell is a little on the wrong side of eccentric, but then there are occasions when they're right. Trow neatly captures the difficulty within a marriage when one partner is in a job where confidentiality is paramount and they can't discuss anything with their partner. The school too is brought to life. They might not use chalk now – but I can still smell it as I read the book.
I'll admit to having something of a crush on Maxwell. He takes me back to my schooldays with his wisdom, understanding and personality – unfortunately I've got to amalgamate about half a dozen different teachers and they came with a lot of other baggage. His wife is a lucky woman but there's a spectre at their feast – he's so much older that they know their time together will not be as long as they would wish. There's a whole cast of supporting characters too and there's not one of them that's less than three dimensional.
It's the story you want to know about though, isn't it? Well, as usual, it's a cracker and completely believable. I didn't spot 'whodunit' until the very last moment and there was a lovely twist in the tail that left me with tears of laughter running down my face. Superb.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
There is a slight advantage in having read some of the earlier books in the series, but it really is minimal (you might realise that White Surrey is a bicycle rather than a hen, but that's no biggy). Once you've read one though you'll want to read others and we can recommend Maxwell's Mask, Maxwell's Point and Maxwell's Chain.
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