Spoiler alert: I have included some of the plot line in this review
Finding Max, by Darren Jorgensen, is really the story of Gary, a social worker, who is still struggling, seventeen years later, with the abduction of his five-year-old brother Max from the playground where Gary was supposed to be watching him. It is clear there was nothing eight-year-old Gary could have done to prevent the event, and when the police didn’t believe his story, his alcoholic mother was arrested, tried and found guilty of Max’s murder.
Perhaps because of his profound sense of helplessness, Gary now helps other lost people at homeless shelter in New York City. One day he interrupts a co-worker interviewing a homeless man for assistance at the shelter and discovered that ‘David’ is really his brother Max. Reintroducing himself and getting to know his brother and what happened to him requires patience, tact and delicacy because Max is a deeply traumatized young man. At the same time, Gary is balancing a new relationship with a young Asian woman, Jean, whom he met when she served him coffee at a local shop. This is Jean’s story, too, since she has been cast out by her father for her modern ways.
Max was abducted by a man who traffics in young boys for pedophiles, and his enforcer, an evil man called Quinn, has been searching for Max ever since he escaped from the basement in which he’s been head for years while being loaned out. Quinn has an unnatural sexual attraction to Max, which he considers love, and which is why Quinn didn’t kill him when Max reached puberty. Max has been hiding among the homeless in NYC to escape Quinn, who is tracking him.
During the period when Gary, Jean and Max learn to love and trust each other, they become a functional group dedicated to protecting Max from Quinn, who has managed to find him. They must make a choice: to run from Quinn or stand and face him.
This book is not for the faint of heart. It is very gritty, with graphic sex and violence, which normally I abhor, and it deals with pedophilia and homelessness, two topics that most people find very uncomfortable. Nevertheless, it is written with such brutal honesty that it was difficult for me to put the book down. The relationships were extraordinarily real as were the descriptions of pedophilia and the homeless – so much so that I wondered if the author himself was recounting some aspects of his own life.
The pursuit of Max by Quinn was a thriller, and I didn’t mind the longer passages of exposition since they enriched the story. Quinn’s reappearance, initially as he probed Max’s new relationship with his brother, and later as he pursues Max, Jean and Gary into the homeless underground of the city was absorbing.
The only weakness I found was the nature of Jean’s supposed illness – she is emaciated and gaunt to the point of appearing like a concentration camp survivor – which left me wondering where she found her considerable energy and why she had not sought medical attention. Lack of medical insurance these days is not much of an excuse.
I can recommend the book if the readers are prepared for what it contains. It Is powerful and searing and the characters and their situations stayed with me a long time after I finished it.
About the author
Darren M. Jorgensen has always fed his passions through book clubs and writing groups. After working at the United Nations and attending Brown University, he eventually found his way back to his first love, writing. He wrote Finding Max, in just 12 days. He now lives in his native Alberta with his extraordinary wife, Ginette, and likes to walk with his dogs, Molly and Dobby—both named for Harry Potter characters—through the golden fields behind his home on a farm with too many snakes slithering through the grass. He was twenty-two when he wrote his first book, The Searing, and states that his occupation is writing, all the time.
You can find Darren Jorgensen on
At his book site: https://findingmaxtrilogy.com/
And on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/darren.jorgensen.35