"Good riddance to bad rubbish," is how Kevin describes his father to Max one day, and it could have just as easily been said by Max regarding his own father, who is in prison for killing Max's mother when Max was four years old, earning him the nickname "Killer Kane" and making Max the butt of frequent jokes and rhymes by cruel kids, such as "Killer Kane, Killer Kane/Had a kid who got no brain". Max's father doesn't appear until near the end of the novel, but he is a menacing presence throughout, foreshadowing his eventual return to kidnap his son.
Interestingly, when Kevin pronounces his father's absence "good riddance to bad rubbish", Max finds it to be strangely funny and has a good laugh, "rolling around on the ground like a moron. . . .And I'm laughing so hard I can hardly breathe." Max hasn't had a great deal of opportunities to laugh and have fun in his life, and it is moments like these when Philbrick manages to create comic relief and lighten up a book that addresses serious issues and might not be terribly enjoyable to read otherwise.