March 09, 2016


by Simon Rose
Tyche Books
155 pp.
Ages 8-12

Max seems like a typical fourteen-year-old boy: he hangs out with his friends; he has to endure parenting, or lack thereof, from his father; and he keeps secrets, especially the one that would make him look like he was going crazy.  You see, Max keeps seeing this boy, about his age, with a thick mop of black hair watching him and then disappearing.  And Max continues getting these bizarre images of being restrained on an operating table and a hypodermic needle and a girl with green hair.  It’s all very weird and frightening.

Since the images began at the cemetery when he’d stood beside the stones of Jonathan Dexter and his son David, Max does a little research.  He meets a man named John Carrington, a retired private investigator, who had been involved in a case twenty years earlier when the fourteen-year-old son, David, of politician Jonathan Dexter went missing.  With the tip from a psychic, the boy’s remains were found a few years later, just prior to Jonathan Dexter’s own death in a fire.  But just when Carrington found a connection to other missing persons’ cases, the whole investigation was shut down.

The next day, Max is shocked to learn that Carrington has been found dead in the park.  Slipping into the private investigator’s office while renovations are being done, Max uncovers documents and photos related to the Dexter case, including a connection to a researcher named Aleksander Kovac. Following the clues revealed within, Max makes the acquaintance of the psychic named Deanna Hastings and the teen bizarrely time slips into David’s life twenty years earlier.  And from there and then, Max tries to solve the mystery of David and Kovac and a weird headache-causing young man named Kane.

Flashback is an action-packed adventure perfect for middle grade readers.  Young readers will enjoy the plot-driven story rife with the supernatural, bad guys, evil experimentation, and time slip. While I found some of the plot progressions to be a little contrived, I think younger readers will appreciate the fast pace and suspenseful thrill of learning what really happened to David Dexter courtesy of a middle-grade sleuth.

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