The Name of This Book is Secret Summary

Pseudonymous Bosch

The Name of This Book is Secret

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The Name of This Book is Secret Summary

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The Name of This Book is Secret is a fantasy novel for middle grade readers by Pseudonymous Bosch, the pen name of young adult author Raphael Simon. The book follows two eleven-year-old characters, Max-Ernest and Cass, as they attempt to solve the mystery behind the death of a local magician named Pietro Bergamo. The narrator and author Pseudonymous Bosch plays a significant role in the story, frequently weaving himself into the plot of the book and chastising himself for sharing the secret of the magician’s death with readers.

The book begins with characters Cass and Max-Ernest, who are quite different. Both are eleven years old, and attend the same school, but Cass is a conspiracy theorist with a wild imagination and little time for friends, while Max-Ernest is a logical observer with a lot of energy – too much, according to his parents, who are divorced and live in a house together split perfectly down the middle. They meet on the playground on a day that Cass brings a mysterious box to school. Max-Ernest makes a joke, and Cass explains to him that it makes no sense. They begin a conversation, which leads Cass to share the secret of the Symphony of Smells with Max-Ernest.

The Symphony of Smells is a mysterious redwood box that was delivered to Cass’s grandfather’s junk shop by a real-estate agent named Gloria, who is preparing the house of a now-deceased magician for resale. Cass finds the box and brings it to school, curious about its contents. After she shows it to Max-Ernest, the pair discover that inside the box is a coded message asking for help. They agree to take on the mystery together, despite their differences.

The pair decide that their first step is to investigate the house of the dead magician. Inside the house, Cass and Max-Ernest find the magician’s secret study, and inside the study a secret notebook that is empty except for a single riddle on the first page. The kids take the notebook and leave the house, but are spotted in the process by a pair of villains named Ms. Mauvais and Dr. L. The villains are wealthy and wear white gloves, and spend their days driving around in a showy limousine and scoping out children who have special talents. These villains stalk the children, and even show up at their school.

Cass solves the riddle in the notebook on her way to school the next day, and uncovers a secret ledger of Pietro Bergamo’s life. In it, Bergamo reveals that he has been investigating a mysterious woman he called the Golden Lady, who he thinks kidnapped his brother Luciano. Luciano and Pietro both have synesthesia, a condition that causes two or more of their senses to intertwine and changes the way they think. Pietro writes that years earlier another boy with the same condition was kidnapped by the same woman, causing his suspicion. Cass believes the woman might be Ms. Mauvais, but Max-Ernest points out that she is much too young to be the culprit.

Soon after, a boy named Benjamin Blake, who attends Cass and Max-Ernest’s school, is kidnapped. Cass is suddenly certain that Ms. Mauvais has kidnapped Benjamin, though Max-Ernest has his suspicions. The two get in a fight over rescuing Benjamin, and Cass goes it alone to try to save him. Her first step is to infiltrate the Midnight Sun Spa and Sensorium, whose logo was on the limousine driven by Dr. L and Ms. Mauvais. She decides to pose as an heiress and visit the spa undercover. While she is there, she meets a stuttering young man who will be her butler, and undergoes a series of spa treatments. She is then pulled into Ms. Mauvais’s office and told a special guest will be joining them for dinner – the special guest turns out to be none other than Max-Ernest, come to rescue Cass.

Ms. Mauvais discovers that Cass and Max-Ernest are undercover and insists she be given the journal. During the scuffle, her glove falls off and her incredibly old hands are revealed. The kids learn that all the spa staff are secretly ancient, and are alchemists searching for the secret to eternal life. Dr. L is actually Luciano, Pietro Bergamo’s long-lost brother. The alchemists remove the brains of special children for studying, and Cass and Max-Ernest soon realize they have to rescue Benjamin before it’s too late. Luckily, Owen reveals that he is a spy, and unties the kids from their binds. They all escape, taking Benjamin with them, escaping from the pyramid in the center of the complex, but not before a fire starts, burning down the spa in the process.

At the end of the novel, Owen returns home with Cass and Max-Ernest, and Benjamin is safe. The kids then receive another box from Gloria, which is full of Pietro’s spy gadgets, sent from mysterious initials that read only: PB.

The Name of This Book is a Secret is the first in a series of young adult fantasy novels following Cass and Max-Ernest. Other books in the series include If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late; This Book is Not Good for You; This Isn’t What it Looks Like; and, finally, You Have to Stop This, the fifth and final book, which was released in 2011.