With girlfriend DS Jacquie Carpenter back at work and little baby Nolan rapidly growing into a feisty toddler, Peter 'Mad Max' Maxwell, Head of Sixth Form at Leighford High, decides to hire an au pair. The exotic Juanita Reyes seems the perfect choice.
But one afternoon the lovely Juanita disappears into thin air, and two ramblers are surprised - and not a little disturbed - when their dog digs up a body on Dead Man's Point, the lonely cliff top rising high over the sea.
MAXWELL'S POINT is the 12 book in what seems to now be a 14 book series. Having never read any of the earlier books, I was particularly curious to see whether or not the series could be picked up well down the track without this reader feeling lost, and more than a little confused.
It did take a few chapters to get used to the sense of humour and the tone of the book. 'Mad Max' is an extremely sarcastic, dryly witty, acerbic sort of a character and the tone and humour is heavy-handed. Once you get used to that, and come to understand what the outwardly awkward old Max is all about, the humour fits and can be quite amusing at times. It's also not too hard to work out that his girlfriend - mother of his son - is a fair bit younger than him, and used to his interfering ways, even if her superiors in the force are less than impressed.
Once you have got into the style and relationships of the book, the story of MAXWELL'S POINT was nicely twisty and complicated. 'Mad Max' as is his wont, gets fully involved in the search for his missing au pair, although it's not part of the police investigation. He also gets himself mildly in the way of the police who are investigating a series of bodies that start to be discovered around the cliffs and beach side of the local area, an investigation which Jacquie is involved in. There is also, in what I would suspect is an ongoing war, a skirmish between 'Mad Max' and the school authorities.
The humour and the style of 'Mad Max' might take some readers a little getting used to, it might be easy to mistake the irony as rudeness, the sly and witty commentary as superiority, particularly if you are not used to that style of humour. But the mystery revealed was fairly laid out for the reader to follow and the main characters were engaging and interesting. The fact that the book is so far into a series didn't leave the reader feeling lost or give you a feeling of missing out on something. Having said that, what really worked for me, was the sheer fun of a central protagonist that is anything but predictable.