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Authors: Michele Torrey

Tags: #Ages 9 & Up

The Case of the Crooked Carnival

BOOK: The Case of the Crooked Carnival
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To Nav, Mehra, Andrea, and Katie,
whose brilliance and creativity
are quite astonishing.
M. T.

For my guys: Phil, Dave, Mike, and Ben.
B. J. N.

STERLING and the distinctive Sterling logo are registered
trademarks of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Available
Lot #:
2 4 6 8 10 9 7 5 3 1
03/10

Published by Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.
387 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10016
Text © 2010 by Michele Torrey
Illustrations © 2010 by Barbara Johansen Newman

All rights reserved
Sterling eBook ISBN: 978-1-4549-0397-0

For information about custom editions, special sales, premium and corporate purchases, please contact Sterling Special Sales Department at 800-805-5489 or [email protected]

One • Gloom and Doom

Two • Ghosts and Ghouls

Three • The Gory Details

Four • Alien Invasion

Five • A Pleasant Outing?

Six • Step Right Up!

Seven • The Winner!

Eight • Fun-O-Wama

Nine • Danger in the Air

Ten • Bridge Gone Bananas

Activities and Experiments for Super-Scientists

D
awn had barely cracked in the small town of Mossy Lake. A few squirrels sleepily rubbed their eyes. Mostly, though, the town was still asleep on this early, lazy Saturday morning.

But in one particular house, up the stairs and in the attic, all was astir. Beakers boiled. Solutions swirled. And electrical currents flowed.

In the center of it all stood Drake Doyle. Now one might think he was mad, in the mad scientist sort of way. His cinnamon-colored hair stood straight up, as if he’d slept upside down. He wore a lab coat. He stared through the apparatus in front of him as if he’d unlocked the secret to brain transference. Or Martian communication.

But Drake was no mad scientist. No indeed.

He flipped the switch. He said, “Aha!” and scribbled in his lab notebook.

Just then, the phone rang. Who would be calling at such an hour? Perhaps it was because his business cards said to call anytime:

Doyle and Fossey:
Science Detectives
call us. anytime. 555-7822

Drake and his partner, Nell Fossey, were the best amateur science-detective geniuses in the fifth grade (besides being best friends). They had a long list of satisfied customers and cases solved.

And that’s why, on this early, lazy Saturday morning Drake picked up the phone: “Doyle and Fossey.”

“Uh—uh, hello? Is this Detective Doyle?”

Drake’s heart sank. It was Edgar Glum, the gloomiest kid in school. Edgar never told jokes. Edgar always wore black. If someone passed out cupcakes on their birthday, he’d say, “I only got one.”

But, sinking heart or not, Drake was a professional, and professionals never lose heart entirely. “Ah, yes, Mr. Glum. What can I do for you?”

“Woe is me. I have a problem. I’m hearing ghosts and ghouls at night.”

By this time, Drake and Nell were considered ghost experts. Even so, Drake’s heart still skipped a beat. “Ghosts and ghouls, you say?”

“Their moaning and howling and clanking have kept me awake for a month. Oh, woe,” Edgar sighed drearily. “I suppose you won’t take the case. I’ll have to call James Frisco.”

Frisco! While Drake only
appeared
to be a mad scientist, James Frisco was the real deal. Frisco splashed and spilled chemicals, while Drake carefully poured them. Frisco made paper airplanes out of instructions, while Drake carefully read them. Frisco’s favorite scientist was Dr. Frankenstein, while Drake’s was Dr. Einstein. (In fact, Frisco’s mother was still having nightmares following Frisco’s latest attempt to reanimate dead cockroaches.) So you see, Frisco was a very bad, very mad scientist indeed:

FRISCO
bad
mad scientist
(Better than Doyle and Fossey)
Call me. Day or night. 555-6190

Drake could never let Frisco take the case! “Never fear, Mr. Glum. No ghost or ghoul is too frightful for Doyle and Fossey!”

Drake hung up and called Nell. “Edgar Glum’s got ghosts and ghouls. We must investigate.”

“You do know, Detective Doyle, that Edgar lives in the dreariest, spookiest house in town?”

“Check.”

Click.

The Glum mansion was indeed the dreariest, spookiest house in town. Porches sagged. Gnarled trees loomed overhead.

Now Drake might have lost heart entirely had it not been for Nell, who, as usual, was the first to arrive, ready for business. Her coffee-colored hair was pulled back into a ponytail, and she had a pencil behind her ear. “Ready, Detective Doyle?”

“Ready.”

Together they stepped onto the sagging front porch and rang the doorbell.

After a few tense moments in which Drake thought he felt something tickling the back of his neck, the door opened.

It was Edgar, looking as if he’d just eaten a lump of cold oatmeal. “You rang?”

I
nside, Edgar’s home was dark and creepy. Yellowed wallpaper peeled from the walls. A rickety staircase led upward into the shadows. A chilly draft crept through the hall, smelling like mummies and wet socks.

If truth be told, Drake wished with all his heart that he could turn right around and pedal like mad toward home. However, being the professional that he was, he merely said (and a bit too loudly), “Nice place.”

“I suppose,” sighed Edgar.

Just then, something brushed against Drake from behind. He gave a little yelp, much relieved when he saw it was only a dog.

“That’s Poe,” said Edgar.

Poe’s license tags jangled as Drake patted him. “Good doggie.”

Nell whipped out her notebook and pencil and began to take notes. “Dogs can often sense ghosts and ghouls. Has Poe noticed anything unusual?”

Edgar shook his head. “He’s almost blind, and mostly deaf. Plus, he stopped sleeping with me in my room on the same night the ghosts and ghouls started howling. Now he sleeps next to our new furnace in the basement. I’m all alone.”

Ignoring the chill in the air, Drake whipped out his notebook and pencil as well. “The haunting started one month ago, you say?”

Edgar nodded.

“Has anything else happened in the past month?” asked Nell. “Anything unusual?”

“Well, not unless you count the chandelier crashing to the floor, and my pet tarantula dying. Now it’s just my grandmother, Poe, and me.”

Drake jotted furiously:
Poe won’t sleep in Edgar’s room anymore, chandelier crashed, tarantula died, house could use a little cheering, new wallpaper maybe….

Edgar licked his lips nervously. “Do you … do you think it’s a ghost? A
real
ghost?”

“Impossible to tell at this point,” said Drake.

“Let’s take a look around,” said Nell.

And so they did. They shone their flashlights in this corner and that one. They stole up and down the rickety stairs. They opened the creakity door to the attic and peered under sagging beds and in cluttered closets. They inspected the broken chandelier. They said “hello” and “nice day, isn’t it?” to Edgar’s grandmother, who sat knitting in the living room, listening to the radio. And finally, they headed down the stairs and into the basement, where Poe was already taking a nap.

“Nothing supernatural so far,” said Drake, tripping on a step.

“Roger that,” replied Nell, catching Drake by his lab coat. “Even the chandelier appears to have fallen because the cord was old and frayed.”

“Well,” said Drake, “at least it’s warm and toasty down here.”

Edgar nodded gloomily. “Like I said, we got a new furnace. Now I have to add wood to it twice a day. It’s such a chore.”

“Better than being cold,” Nell said, as she shone her flashlight about, illuminating cobwebs, old open pipes, dusty boxes, and rusty bicycles.

“I suppose,” sighed Edgar.

Then, just as Drake was warming his hands near the furnace, a strange thing happened. A strand of music floated through the air like a wisp of cobweb.

BOOK: The Case of the Crooked Carnival
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