AMERICAN DETECTIVE STORIES
HISTORY OF THE DETECTIVE NOVEL NANCY DREW AND THE HARDY BOYS HOST A MYSTERY DINNER PARTY AND MUCH MORE!
Ink and Fairydust Managing Editor Neri Preslin Submissions/Proofreading Editor Ellianna Mitchell
Assistant Editor Amanda Dominick Graphics Editor Shaylynn Rackers Column Editor Ciara Zaketti Proofreaders Megan Dominick, Marie Jeanette, Ciara Zaketti Contributers Neri Preslin, Ellianna Mitchell, Eulalia Hogers, Kevin Derby, Allison DeWolf, Courtney McCullough, Marie Suprenant, Megan Dominick, Shaylynn Rackers, MarieClaire Pfang Cover Artwork Mary Sullivan Illustrators Mary MacArthur, Mary Sullivan, Shaylynn Rackers Photographers Emily Rounds, Elizabeth Hausladen, Neri Preslin, Shaylynn Rackers. Stock images: stock.exchng. and public domain photographs Graphics Assistant Mary Grace Dostalik Submissions Assistant Marie Jeanette ---
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CONTENTS Editorsâ€™ Notes
by Neri Preslin and Ellianna Mitchell
Odds and Ends 12 Tips for Up-and-Coming Detectives by Eualia Hogers
A History of Mystery by Courtney McCullough
Quotes from Famous Writers of Detective Fiction compiled by Courtney McCullough
4 5 6-7 10-12 13
14-15 I&F Fiction Contest 16 Following the King 17
Host a Murder Mystery Party by Eulalia Hogers
by Kevin Derby
MAY / June 2012 theme: american detective stories
19 20-23 24 25 26-27 27
Meet the Staff Black Stone
by Marie Suprenant
I&F Book Review by Kevin Derby
I&F Movie Review by Allison DeWolf
Invitation to Mystery by Megan Dominick
Shea and Bergen
MAY/JUNE 2012 Ink and Fairydust is a free emag full of faith and creativity. It is run entirely by teens and young adults and is published bi-monthly. www.inkandfairydust.com
by Shaylynn Rackers
28-29 England Column 30
There’s Nothing Better than a Kid Detective by Shaylynn Rackers
by Marie-Clare Pfang
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Dear Readers, Welcome to our May/June issue! I know we’ve been getting them out a little late and we’re working on moving up our release dates. Hopefully by Sept/Oct we will be back on our normal release date. This issue has special meaning for me; Nancy Drew was the reason I became such an avid reader. Even today my bookshelves are covered with droves of Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and Trixie Belden mysteries. Mysteries are what intrigue us, they are what drive us, they teach us to think for ourselves, and in solving these mysteries we pass from children to adults. Mysteries are prevalent in all types of literature. If we recognize their presence and patterns will will have a greater understanding of each character’s choices. This is what I have taken away from my experience with mysteries and mystery writing and I hope that you will find the same insight into literature through it that I have found. Read on,
~ Neri Preslin Managing Editor
Hello, dear readers of Ink & Fairydust!
The books I remember growing up with, the ones I begged my parents to let me stay up late to read (“Just one more chapter!”), the ones I reread because they were “just that good,” and the ones I talked about most (as if the characters were my friends, I’m told) are those in The Boxcar Children series. It has been many years now since I’ve read them, so I have difficulty remembering what even just one of them was about...but that doesn’t lessen the impact they had on me. My brother was as interested in the series as I was, so the natural progression for us was to turn into mini detectives. Everything was a mystery. We had notebooks full of clues and confusing tidbits. We created a secret code to talk to each other in (of course we couldn’t use it without the decoder sheet, so it was usually pretty useless). And we had a trench coat, magnifying glass, and flashlight (even though most of our sleuthing happened in daylight), because the costume is the most important part. It wasn’t until I was much older that I read some of the classics, such as The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, so while I enjoyed them, they didn’t touch that nostalgic nerve with me. I know many of you have grown up with these books, so my hope is that the articles in this issue of I&F will bring up good memories. Perhaps you will learn some things about the books, or discover a new author whose work you haven’t read yet. As always, our goal is to inspire faith and creativity. If you have suggestions of how we can continue to achieve this, please let us know! Thank you for reading, and God bless, ~ Ellianna Mitchell 4
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Prince Charming taking too long?
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for up-andcoming detectives by Eulalia Hogers
Always, always! Carry a wood-handled, gold-rimmed magnifying glass. Sometimes it will come in quite handy. Once it a while it may save your life. Most of the time, though, you will just hold it in front of your nose and act like you see something other than bulbous blurbs. But you must have one nonetheless! Courtesy of Miss Nancy Drew.
Wear disguises. And not just your typical flimsy, fake moustache. For a really convincing disguise, one in which you could bump shoulders with your arch enemy in the street and have him pass on without a second glance, you must change your very manner of walking, style of speech--in fact your whole person. Do not change merely your clothes; you must be completely altered. Courtesy of Mr. Sherlock Holmes.
Pay attention to tiny details. Cigar ashes, hairs, tiny threads of clothing, a footprint in the dust--these little remnants tell a story and can be the key to many puzzles. Local authorities rarely notice them or give them much credit, but they are indispensable to the experienced detective. Courtesy of Mr. Sherlock Holmes.
Keep your appearance sharp. Nothing creates a demeanor of respectability, intelligence, and intimidation like a well-starched collar or a finely curved moustache. Courtesy of Mr. Hercule Poirot
Think outside the box. You wouldn’t think that a comment about a headband would actually be referring to a highly venomous snake, or that someone would hide a precious gem inside a goose, but such are the unusual circumstances in which a detective must learn to work. Clever criminals know how to be original; you must as well. Courtesy of Mr. Sherlock Holmes
assisting local authorities swallow it like minnows)! Courtesy of Mr. Sherlock Holmes
Always expect that someone may be trying to kill you. Because somebody usually is. Courtesy of Miss Nancy Drew.
Know a thing or two about human nature. Crime and sin are closely linked, so if you understand sin, you can understand, and defeat, crime. Remember, no matter how dangerous, desperate, and dastardly a criminal, there is always the possibility of goodness and conversion. The grace of God, which acts on every human being, is “an unseen hook and an invisible line which is long enough to let him wander to the ends of the world and still to bring him back with a twitch upon the thread.” Courtesy of Fr. Brown
Never trust the local authorities. See tips 3 and 4. Courtesy of Mr. Sherlock Holmes
Expect the unexpected. It’s not just for Boy Scouts. The criminal mind is a complex thing, and one can never fully comprehend all its dark secrets and motivations. “Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent.” Courtesy of Mr. Sherlock Holmes
Stay innocent. Simplicity is the best disguise. Courtesy of Fr. Brown
Read from the experts!!!!!
Stay alert to framework. If something seems too obvious, it most likely is. Remember, master criminals will try to throw you off track. Don’t fall for the bait (even if the
modern fairy tales novels for teens by Regina Doman
SHEALYNN’S FAERIE SHOPPE pictured: guitar string earrings
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REGINACON 2012 Ink and Fairydust began as a small newsletter run by the teens on the Fairy Tale Novels Forum-- the fan forum of Regina Doman and her modern fairytale book series. Every year, she coordinates a “Fairy Tale Fan Festival”-- called ReginaCon by her fans. It’s always a blast!
Hear ye! Hear ye! Mark your calendar, for the date of ReginaCon 2012 has been announced! Who: You! Where: Minooka, Illinois When: July 12-16th (Thursday-Sunday) What: Come meet Regina Doman, fellow fans of the Fairy Tale Novels and participate in skits, talent shows, a themed dance and more!
Details and registration forms can be found at
he definition of detective fiction is pretty obvious. Basically, it’s any story that has a detective, or one who acts as a detective, solving a mystery or crime of some type. As you can guess from that description, the genre is expansive. Today it describes literally thousands of titles, not to mention many of the ‘half detective’ works combined with elements of thriller, suspense, mystery, crime, and others. I’m always interested in the history of things, so naturally when I started researching American Detective Stories, I was captivated by how detective fiction came into being. Here’s a little of what I learned...
Edgar Allan Poe is considered the father of the detective story. In April 1841, Graham’s Magazine published “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” written by Poe, and the three stories where his main character, C. Auguste Dupin, attempts to solve the cases are deemed the first real detective fiction in America. The rise of detective fiction to popularity was unhurried, with few detective stories appearing in the 65 years after Poe’s death. In the 1860’s the dime novel came into being and helped to push detective stories along. Dime novels, or pulp novels as they were nicknamed, were yellow-colored, paper-backed books published by the firm Beadle and Adams. They could be published very cheaply, and purchased for a dime, because they were printed on the cheapest newsprint of the times; a paper made
Following the Progression of Detective-Mystery Fiction in America by Courtney McCullough of pure wood pulp without rag fiber. These contained mostly western and cowboy stories in the beginning, but as the times progressed and public interest shifted, became more and more devoted to detective series. Most pulp series were written by multiple authors and were considered to be cheap writing – definitely not the kind of stuff you encouraged your kids to read. Or let anybody see you reading for that matter. The high demand for detective stories led many newspapers to start publishing them. Around this time the paper for many leading newspapers was made of high-quality rag fiber and also had a high clay content, making the paper smooth to touch, long lasting, and brilliantly white. These papers were nicknamed ‘slicks,’ and were more acceptable to read than pulps. In 1878, Anna Katharine Green, an American detective novelist, was the first woman to enter the field. By the eighteenth century, America saw a huge revival of interest in detective
fiction. This resurgence of interest in detective fiction brought two authors, Carolyn Wells and Arthur B. Reeve, acclaim for their many detective stories. In 1908, Mary Roberts Rinehart’s The Circular Staircase was published. Rinehart is a detective fiction writer whose work is still much admired today. While World War I was going on, a crop of spyadventure books very similar to detective stories sprouted up. It still took a while for detective stories to be thought of as works of literature, though. This was partly the fault of the writers, who still had much to learn about their craft. Willard Huntington Wright, whose pen name was S. S. Van Dine, managed to give the genre a better name and appeal to readers with a higher literary taste. Other writers of these types of stories started to see detective fiction as a serious work, and began to devote as much attention to it as they would have to any other sort of novel. All kinds of tricks of the trade were developed.
Writers learned to use things like misdirection, to give the reader all the clues in such a way that the reader would misinterpret them. Their characters became more believable; villains more human, detectives less eccentric, etc. In the late 1920’s, Dashiell Hammett began to publish his stories in a pulp series called the Black Mask, and put a new twist on mysterydetective fiction. He had a strong influence on the genre and many works have followed along his vein of hard-boiled, realistic stories. Classic detective stories still remained very popular. Ellery Queen had his work published in 1929 and gained renown as a detective fiction novelist. Soon after, Rex Stout created his famous detective, Nero Wolfe, and Erle Stanley Gardner wrote about detective Perry Mason – two characters who became well-known in America and achieved large groups of fans. continued
The detective novel was fully developed around 1940, many great authors having labored hard at perfecting a lot of the techniques of the mysterydetective novel. Some of the most commonly used forms in detective novels, then and now, are the hard-boiled detective, the procedural detective, the adventure-detective, the softboiled detective, and the lockedroom detective. Each of these guidelines approaches detective fiction writing a little differently. Hard-boiled detective stories are those written as ‘realistically’ as possible, often employing crudeness and violence to make them more rough and cynical. This is an especially popular way to write detective novels in America, and many famous American detective fiction novelists – Raymond Chandler, Ross MacDonald, Thomas B. Dewey – employed this form of the detective novel in their writing. The procedural detective novel is one where scientific methods and teamwork are used to solve the mystery, rather than just one brilliant detective. Ed McBain is an American author who frequently 12
used this system when writing his detective stories. Adventuredetective books make the threat something personal instead of un-related to the person trying to solve the mystery. This form is used sporadically by tons of writers. In the soft-boiled detective story there is very little violence or crudeness... basically the opposite of the hard-boiled detective story. Most classic detective fiction would be considered ‘soft-boiled.’ A locked-room detective is one where the crime is committed under seemingly impossible circumstances, and only the protagonist’s need for a rational explanation drives him on to solve the mystery. John Dickson Carr, Clayton Rawson, and Anthony Boucher were masters at this form of detective novel writing. The detective novel continues to be a highly popular genre in America, and every day new detective fiction writers are still working at it, creating mysterious tales for the billions of fans of American Detective Stories.
Interested in reading some of the original dime novels, including old detective stories? Websites such as www.pulpmags.org have digital archives full of pulp magazines dating from the late 1800’s to the 1940’s.
from some famous writers of detective fiction compiled by courtney mccullough
sue grafton Ideas are easy. It’s the execution of ideas that really separates the sheep from the goats.
We all need to look into the dark side of our nature – that’s where the energy is, the passion.
A character who is thought-out is not born, he or she is contrived. A born character is round, a thought-out character is flat.
People are afraid of that because it holds pieces of us we’re busy denying.
I still can’t decide which is more fun – reading or writing.
edgar allen poe Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality. All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream. I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat.
mary roberts rinehart The writing career is not a romantic one. The writer’s life may be colorful, but his work itself is rather drab.
raymond chandler A good story cannot be devised; it has to be distilled. Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it. 13
Host a Murder Mystery Party What is it about mysteries that so excites and captivates us? Perhaps it is the thrill of the unknown, the secrets and puzzles calling for explanations. Perhaps it is the adventure of trying to get inside other people’s minds and discovering what motivates them, what they feel, and whether or not they are capable of evil. Or, perhaps, it is that murder mysteries so resemble what goes on in every human society, and indeed, in every human soul. We know that there is evil in our midst, a desperate killer just waiting to strike, and that we must seek him out, capture him, and put him behind bars. For whatever the reason, mysteries hold a special place in the human mind. They make us think, both on the practical and philosophical level, about human nature, and how it is capable of both good and evil. The conflict that exists between the brilliant sleuth and the evil genius will never cease to amaze us, as much as the vision of a knight slaying a dragon will never cease to astound. We will always love that good and healthy thrill for the investigation, the chase, the final showdown, and the capture. So what better way is there to spend a stormy summer night, when the wind is in the trees and thunder in the skies, than a murder mystery party? Costumes usually set the theme for a party, and false identity, alias, and incognito play a huge part in many mystery stories. Have your guests dress up as something unexpected, something unlike what they would usually choose. If your typical outfit is a tee-shirt and jeans, try doing something more dressy, or vice-versa. See how confusing it can be when people change their usual outfit style.
After a few minutes of chatting and introduction, start the detection. Watch an episode of Poirot, the BBC series, or one of the many Sherlock Holmes sitcoms. Poirot works well because it typically ends with a lengthy “whodunit” scene, in which the detective assembles all the suspects and reveals the murderer. If you want to get away from electronics, have someone read a Sherlock Holmes mystery out loud, or invent and act out your own mysteries, skit style. Have everyone take notes as the story proceeds, and, just before the big reveal, have everyone guess the culprit. Games at a murder mystery party should, of course, follow the theme and involve plenty of mystery and sleuthing. “Mafia” is a classic, and a great choice for large groups. To play, first select a person to play the “narrator.” This person will not actually participate in the game, but will give instructions to the rest of the group and choose mafias, doctors, policemen and citizens. Rules often vary from group to group (and no one ever seems to know the same version),
but the basic idea remains the same. The minority “mafia” will pick out members of the majority “citizens” to kill each “night,” when the narrator instructs all the citizens to “go to sleep” (cover eyes, stick heads in pillows, you name it). Come the morning, the citizens must accuse, condemn, and kill off the suspected mafia. The game continues until either all the mafias have been discovered and killed, or the mafia kills off all the citizens. Doctors can “save” one citizen from death every night, and policemen know the identities of the mafia and must try to convince the other citizens of the killers’ identities. Everyone must keep their roles secret until they are killed or the game ends. Some other fitting games are “Murder in the Dark” or “Assassin”, and of course the classic “Cops and Robbers.” So the next winter night, when there is a white moon and a howling wind, call up your fellow sleuths and enjoy a night of mystery, murder, and detection.
by Eulalia Hogers / illustrated by Mary MacArthur 15
INK AND FAIRYDUST
SHORT STORY / ART / POETRY ANNOUNCING THE FIRST INK AND FAIRYDUST FICTION COMPETITION!
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Short stories must include in some way the Christmas carol “Ding Dong Merrily on High.” Be creative! Short stories: 2.400 words or less. / Comics: one 8.5 X 11 page or less. / Poetry: 1,200 words or less.
First place winners in each category will have their entry published in a special Nov/Dec 2012 issue of Ink and Fairydust. and 3rd place winners will 16 2nd recieve a special mention.
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book reviews by Kevin Derby
Annals of Lindormy In his classic essay The Fool, G.K. Chesterton wrote that he spent a large portion of his life searching for the “entire idiot.” Based on the books that I take off my shelves and donate to charity every year, a large part of my life has been spent in search of the worst fantasy novelist writing in the English language--and I have finally found him. Before Leo Tolstoy tackled epics like War and Peace, he crafted more intimate stories--he was an apprentice of his craft. Not so, David Bilsborough, who offers a sweeping fantasy epic in his debut book, The Wanderer’s Tale and its sequel, A Fire in the North. Together these two novels--and I use the term loosely--comprise the Annals of Lindormy, which rank as the worst fantasy books I have come across in my three decades of reading them. Bilsborough should have followed Tolstoy’s example--the ambition of these novels far exceeds his abilities. The plot is nothing new. Dark lord seeks to regain power... motley group of heroes must defeat him...perilous quest. This is a familiar, perhaps an overly familiar, tale and Bilsborough does not offer anything new here. His characters are not particularly interesting, and he throws way too many adjectives at the reader. The namesake character of the first novel--the Wanderer--is one of the worst leading characters I have ever stumbled across in fantasy literature.
He is not a strong or an appealing character. Even worse, Bilsborough seems more concerned with offering detailed descriptions of setting and strange asides--including a simply odd homage to the Q scenes in the James Bond films--than he is in advancing the plot. Adding to his readers’ misery, Bilsborough shows the writing skills of a pretentious junior high student, with little grasp on the basics of sentence structure, and offering obscure words that often seem out of place. There are some hints of promise in the first of the two novels. Bilsborough offers some unique places, creatures, and people, and there are moments when he grabs the reader’s attention. But this can only go so far. Bilsborough quickly retreats to the genre’s clichés. He offers lousy poetry and songs. He gives common creatures in fantasy other names--and he does not show the language skills of a professional like Tolkien or even the logic and wit that Neal Stephenson revealed in Anathem, one of the most interesting works of speculative fiction in recent years. Bilsborough downplays the role of women--the only ones who appear are evil. The leading characters refer to women as “breeders” constantly. Even Tolkien gave women more of a role for good than Bilsborough did. It’s odd to see in a novel published in 2007. Bilsborough should have started smaller, with fewer characters and a less ambitious plot.
But as bad as The Wanderer’s Tale is, A Fire in the North is much worse. This book confirms that Bilsborough is a dreadful writer, who actually regressed in the second volume. His characterization and character development, weak in the first book, were even worse in the second. Bilsborough seems to think that being a fantasy writer means he needs to bombard his readers with useless and obscure modifiers. The lessons of writers as diverse as Chesterton, Hemingway, and Michael Moorcock were lost on him. The plot is even staler than before. Despite the hints of ability he showed in the first work, A Fire in the North shows a simple truth: David Bilsborough is one of the worst writers dabbling in fantasy and, I suspect, one of the worst writers of the English language that we have seen in years. Readers should avoid these books like the plague, and count their blessings that Bilsborough has not offered a third book in the more than three years since A Fire in the North was published.
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Meet a Member of the I&F Staff: Ellianna Mitchell Submissions and Proofreading Editor
What are three things everyone should know about you? 1) Geeky things make me happy. Typing, proofreading, learning new words... 2) My room seldom stays clean longer than two days. Everything else is perfectly organized. 3) I have the worst memory of anyone I know. What are the last five books you’ve read? Little Women by Louisa May Alcott The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale Going Rogue by Sarah Palin The Sisters Grimm: The Fairy-Tale Detectives by Michael Buckley To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee If you could meet any famous person alive today who would it be? This is going to sound fan-girly... AnnaSophia Robb. She seems very sweet, and I’d love the chance to interact with her in a normal setting. What are your current obsessions? Besides I&F? Ballet. What movie are you most looking forward to in 2012? Is it bad that I don’t actually know what movies are coming out this year? But I do know one, and I’m sure that beats the rest anyway: The Hobbit! Do you believe the world is actually going to end this year? No. On Facebook I said I would be attending 2013, and I never lie. Its 11:11-- what’s your wish? Well, as I said, my current obsession is ballet... “I wish I could do pointe.”
interviewed by Neri Preslin
going to die, I’m going to die with an annoying song in my head.) What’s your favorite saying? Nothing shows a man’s character more than what he laughs at. Give us a quick bio of yourself! No one would ever call me a perfectionist, but even so I love tweaking the details and being assured everything is running smoothly. I’m that weird sort of person who likes keeping things organized--which is exactly what I get to do in my positions here. Ever since I could pick up a pen and do more with it than make meaningless scribbles, I’ve spent my free time writing. Well, not only writing...I also like dancing, acting, singing, and (when friends are busy) reading. And let’s not forget laughing--I’m a big fan of that! It’s because of these interests that I love Ink & Fairydust so much. The people involved in it have the same love of art in all its forms that I do, and that’s evident in the articles we publish. The I&F staff are creative, talented, and a joy to work with--and they’re not afraid to point to the One that creativity and talent comes from. Being involved with this magazine has been a wonderful blessing, and I hope to continue being a part of it for quite some time.
Quick! Your life depends on finding a pointless youtube video. Your first thought is... Check out Ellianna’s website: http://www.rivershoreHere a llama, there a llama, everywhere a llama, llama... books.com/ (Hopefully that’s the video they want, or not only am I
by In the back roads of Sumpter County, Irene Fauster grips her steering wheel in aggravation. “Again,” she sighs, and struggles out of the car. “Great. Just great. Why can’t some people stay on their side of the road? How they ever passed their driver’s test is beyond my understanding. Botheration.” Irene sees someone walking towards her, only to realize it’s the hitchhiker that she had passed previously. “Need some help?” he asks politely, although Irene can hardly control her temper. “Actually, I was about to attach a rocket under my car and boost it out. What do you think?” she smartly replies. “Oh, I was under the assumption you were strong enough to pick it up without the rocket.” He winks at her. “Dear Lord,” Irene mutters to herself. “Well, how about I drive and you push from the back?” the man states matter-of-factly. “I don’t think so, really. How about I drive and you push the car?” “Oh, so you do want my help?” A smile appears on his face, underneath all the whiskers. Irene didn’t reply, but simply got back into the driver’s seat. After a few tries, the car slides back onto the road with a groan, and Irene rolls down the window. “Ok, generally I don’t ever do this, but do you need a ride somewhere?” “Not with that kind of charity.” “Fine. I owe you a favor. Want a ride?” “Hmm. Not sure.” “Ok. I want to give you a ride somewhere, so get in.” 20
He smiles. “Thanks. I need a ride into town.” “So where in town do you need to go?” Irene glances over, and for the first time notices his roughened condition. “Um, Citgo? Do you have a Citgo in town?” He begins studying his nails. “Wait. You don’t have anywhere to go? Are you homeless?” Irene suddenly blushes, realizing. “Um, I wouldn’t put it that way. I’m just a bit of a wanderer. And you can’t travel if you are settled in somewhere.” “Well you can if you have the money--” she stops again, criticizing herself for her thoughtlessness. “So, do you have a Citgo in town?” He continues, never looking up from the nail study. “Yes we do.....it’s just inside the city.” “Thanks.” “No problem. I mean, I didn’t mean to say that; I just--” she starts. “You just weren’t thinking? I know. But that’s ok, I just needed a lift, that’s all.” The night before... Footsteps pound the wet pavement and darkness runs behind these heels, keeping the boy ever-going through the fog and never forgetting to glance behind. In his hand he holds something small in a folder, vulnerable to be snatched. Tightening his grip on his package, the young man heads to the end of the street, only to trip with exhaustion. Quickly picking himself up, he continues, ever glancing back, ever dreading seeing an image or a thing, and discontentedly but happily sighing when he doesn’t see it.
But something haunts those eyes: something that tightens against the urge to relax his fast gait, and the boy trods on. Entering a welllit house, laughter is heard from within and a voice calls, “James! James Fauster! Where have you been? What’s that you’re carrying in your hand?” But all that can be heard is the patter of footsteps in reply; steps that lead up to a private room-his room, or, I should say, his fortress. Clumsily closing the door, he locks it, one bolt after another, until all seven are secured. He can hear the complaints of those below as he slumps to the floor, baring his teeth from disappointment, and blocking tears that could so easily and readily come. Slumping his head on his chest, Jim begins to sleep, only to jump awake at the sound of something hitting his window. Slowly, he crawls to the sill and peeks over just enough for him to see someone, another young man, throwing pebbles. “Jim! Are you there?” “Yes. Well, what do you want?” “I can’t talk about it like this. Wanna let me up? I forgot to tell you something.” “No. Because maybe you aren’t such a decent fellow. No one can come up here,” he snaps back. “Fine. Meet me at the warehouse in town then, tomorrow at noon. Be there with it?” “Yes.” Jim closes the window and locks it, closing the iron bars behind them. Later that evening... Irene arrives home, to find the place in a bit of unrest. “Irene! Where have you been? Never mind that; have you seen James?” Irene’s mother frantically sputters out the details
that she was able to gather.”He came in last night and then when I awoke this morning he was gone, just gone! No note, no phone call! I just don’t know what to do.” Mrs. Fauster relaxes into a chair, sure in one way or another that her daughter Irene will know what to do. “Did you call the police?” “Of course I did, but they patted me on the head and basically said I am a good little mommy for worrying, but they can’t do a single thing till he has been missing for two days.” Irene mutters under her breath about how it could very well be the case, but with one look from her mother she scampers upstairs to where Jimmy had been the night before. “I’ve already looked over it all, and there is nothing there, Irene.” Her teary-eyed mother sobbed. But she goes nonetheless, and glances around. “Seems like he left in a hurry....bed not made-that’s unusual for him.....drawers open...hmmmm. Apparently whatever he is doing, he wasn’t expecting to do.” There is a knock on the front door, and to Irene’s surprise it is the homeless man she had helped earlier. For some reason, he seems to be expecting to see anyone but her. “Hello... How did you find me? Pretty sure I didn’t bring you here.” “No, sorry, I was looking for a man, an older man. His name is Charley Fauster? Does he live here?” “That was my grandfather. Come in, let me explain.” Irene invites, not just a little confused. “You say that he was... Does that lead me to believe that he is dead?” The man begins rather sadly. “I’m sorry to inform you of this, but yes, that is the case. My grandfather was killed in a hit and run accident three months ago. He was walking to meet us
for lunch and we saw it happen. Thankfully we were there before he died, however.” Irene cannot help brushing a tear from her eye at the memory. She feels a hand on her arm. “I am so, so sorry that this happened. I wish it were different. But you say ‘we’--was there someone else with you?” “Yes, my little brother Jimmy. Does it matter?” She shrugs away his hand. “I should probably introduce myself, since we seem to be running into each other a lot.” He sighs, and says, “My name is John. And yes, it is important. Did your grandfather give anything to you or your brother?” “I don’t think so. Jimmy stayed with him while I called an ambulance so I can’t be sure. But he never mentioned anything.” “Ah, I need to see Jimmy. It’s very important.” John begins to be excited, glancing at his hands and looking up hopefully. “Jimmy has been missing since last night. I was just on my way to look for him. How do you know my grandfather, and what do you want with Jimmy? I’m not sure I trust you with my little brother, and I can hardly believe I let you into the house!” Irene looks at him suspiciously. “I’m not surprised, Irene.” John winks again, and Irene tries very hard not to find him annoying. “I worked with your grandfather, and he had some very important documents I need. Now then, show me his room.” “Come this way. I’ve already been through it. It’s odd, actually.” Irene leads him upstairs. “Well, he certainly left in a hurry! And I don’t think that belonged to him...no, that belonged to Charley. God rest his faithful soul. This was all I needed to see, thank you very much, Irene! You’ve been a big help.” John starts down the stairs, but Irene grabs his hand. “Now, now my dear! Aren’t we jumping things a bit?” John winks again.
“I want to come with you, and whatever do you mean, jumping things?” Then Irene realizes and blushes. “You know very well that wasn’t what I was going to ask. I want to find my brother, and after that I will most certainly be happy to see you on your way.” “I’m sure. No, you can’t come; it’s much too dangerous.” John starts again. “Wrong choice of words, Mister. Don’t you know that is the best way to get me to come?” Irene smiles, and grabs her jacket on the way out. “Why couldn’t we have taken my car?” Irene protests, as she walks in the shadow of John. “And slow down, would you? I don’t have seven league boots.” “Irene, you wanted to come along, now listen. I’m on foot because Jimmy was on foot when he left, he may have made mark or a hint to where he was going... he must have had some destination in mind. Ah, looks like there is a footpath here that runs by a river. Would you have seen this by car?” John gives the smallest hint of a smile, but Irene pouts. “There is no way you could know he took this path! I mean it’s not like he wrote his name on every tree, exactly.” “Quite the opposite, Irene. It’s what we don’t find that tells me that he is going this way.” “How do you mean?” Irene’s puzzled look makes John laugh. “Let me explain. The sand on the path that goes by the road is undisturbed. If he had passed by, he would have left some sort of impression. He took the path by the river, I’m positive.” “Fine. But I still don’t think--” and Irene trips, and John turns around. “Never admit you don’t think, pretty lady,” he says in a joking way, but then stares. What Irene apparently tripped over was the tip of a boot covered in foliage. “Dear Lord, it can’t be.” 21
Irene slips to the ground to uncover a body. “Is, is this your brother, Irene?” John asks gently. “Good gracious, no! Do you think my brother looks like he is thirty? How old would that make me, considering I am his older sister?!?” she sputters back. “We’d better call an ambulance; he looks pretty beat up, and he is unconscious.” “Wait one single second. Do you see this?” John’s face becomes grave, as he shows Irene a tattoo on the man’s arm. “I’m afraid your brother may be in a bit deeper than I thought. We have to hurry. Don’t involve the police.” “Now wait--don’t involve the police? What kind of person are you, anyway?” Irene’s former doubts begin to reappear. “I’m a good man, Irene, and that’s all I can tell you. Don’t involve the police because... they will keep us for hours for questioning and statements and paperwork. It will delay finding your brother, which is now more important than ever before. Let’s take him back to your mother’s place; he may have some information.” “Wha...? Who...? Where am I?” the tatooed man begins to awake, but groggily. Mrs. Fauster shushes him, and turns to John and Irene. “He has a small concussion, but he’ll pull through. What have you been up to, young man? Nevermind, I think I’d rather not know.” And she eyes him warily. “Pssst, Irene! I have some handcuffs in my drawer. Get them!” “Mother! We don’t know this man is a criminal. And who keeps handcuffs in their drawers anyways?” “You, what’s your name?” John harshly demands from the now more conscious man. “Eddy. Did you pull me out of the river? You saved my life. I can’t thank you enough.” And he breaks down, hugging John, whose bewildered face shows he’s clearly 22
not prepared for the act of emotion. “Eddy. Tell me what happened. I know you are part of the gang that is trying to become a member of the Forgettables, but why were you left like that?” John’s tense voice makes it clear to Irene that he is not in favor of whoever, or whatever, the Forgettables are. “I--I, I failed them. I was to watch a house...this house in fact. I was watching for a boy about fourteen. He had something that my boss wanted. He said it would make us secured members of the Forgettables, but I didn’t want that, honest. I thought that I was in too deep. But my boss insisted that they are never caught...he never considered the possibility that it is because they are always using the stupid ones like us.” The man seems to be clearly ashamed that the people that he believes he owes his life to are the very people he was destroying. “What happened to the boy?” John insists. “Well, I was to make sure the boy didn’t leave the house, but I spotted him outside our guard. We chased after him, but he disappeared. After we lost him, my boss said there was no room for failures, so they beat me up and threw me in the river. I would have died, but you reached down and saved me! I owe you my life!” The man hugged John again. “Um, I didn’t actually do that. Irene and myself found you lying in the grass. I think perhaps the person who saved you was Jimmy. You owe Jimmy your life.” The man stands speechless, because there is nothing to say. “Sleep now, and keep quiet.” Irene’s mother insists, knowing with the effects of the concussion that Eddy will not stay awake for long. Taking John aside, Irene wants answers. “Who are the Forgettables? And is Jimmy in danger? Why is he in danger? Who is this man? Why is Jimmy running? Would you answer my questions!” Irene runs out of breath.
“Irene, is there anywhere Jimmy would stay if he had to hide somewhere?” John continues, ignoring her questions. “Well, yes, there is a cave in the woods where he used to play. Why do you ask?” “Because, if Jimmy managed to disappear from a group of grown, trained men, and fished Eddy out of the water after they beat him up and threw him in the river, then he’s not headed for the hills. Jimmy is one smart boy. He knows that they won’t look close to home when they think they flushed him out. Let’s look in the cave. By the way, that’s a pretty necklace.” “Oh, thanks. Jimmy gave it to me. Let’s go, I want to know if he’s ok.” In the caves, Irene turns on her flashlight. “By the way, why do these men want Jimmy? Why do you want Jimmy?” “All will be answered in good time. In the meanwhile, it’s for your own protection that you don’t know.” John turns his flashlight on and walks into the cave opening. “How big is this thing?” “Pretty big. Jimmy was the only one who ever memorized the whole thing. I don’t know if we’ll find him; he’s probably hiding.” “Once we get in far enough so that no one outside can hear, we’ll start calling him.” John continues straight in, going into the first passage. “Don’t go down that one, it leads to a drop,” Irene hurriedly states. “What about this one?” John turns to her. “Um, I don’t know that one. But the third one is small.” “So there is a good chance he is in the second tunnel. Perfect. I’m so glad I have you along to trigger my genius, Irene.” “Uh huh. And your ego.” “So glad we agree.” John starts down the second tunnel. After a few minutes, John and Irene start calling Jimmy’s name. “Irene? Is that you?” A
boy’s voice calls out. “Yes! John! It’s Jimmy!” “Irene!” Jimmy jumps into Irene’s arms for a big hug. “How did you find me? You aren’t safe here. You’ve gotta leave!” Jimmy starts, but then stops when he sees John. “Irene, who is this?” “Hello Jimmy, my name is John, or perhaps, you might know me as the Black Stone.” John stands apart from them. “You’re the Black Stone?!? How can I know?” Jimmy begins backing away. “Because I know what your grandfather had with him before he died.” John tells him, and Jimmy is convinced. “Your grandfather was my secretary, as well as my good friend.” “Ok you two, you’ve got a lot of explaining to do. Which can start now.” Irene sits Indian style on the floor of the cave, and impatiently waits. “Irene, this is the leader of a group of government agents who have the code name of Hebrew. They were put together as special agents to take down a very powerful and elite gang called the Forgettables, because anyone who has attempted to reveal them has been killed, and therefore any information about them is forgotten with that person’s grave. It’s quite horrible actually. The Forgettables are responsible for the greater amount of grand theft, murder, and blackmail in the U.S. The Hebrew was put together to destroy them. This is the head man, and father was his right-hand man.” “Our grandfather was a government agent?” Irene can hardly believe this. “He was a specialist in fraud and detection, Irene,” John says. “Three months ago, right before your grandfather died, our headquarters was the subject of arsonry. Charley saved a document that was very, very valuable to Hebrew. It consisted of all the names of those in the Hebrew organization. Needless to say that if the enemy acquired the identities of
all the agents they could kill them all and destroy Hebrew, leaving all other government agents afraid to take up the case. Charley was seen leaving the building, and because The Forgettables leave no witnesses alive, they sent out a hit man who killed your grandfather. Later it was discovered that the documents that the Forgettables thought they had, namely that one, they did not have, and concluded that Charley must have grabbed it. But Charley gave it to you before he died, didn’t he, Jimmy?” John asks. “Yes, he did. I’ve kept it safe for three months, but now they are on to me. I don’t know what to do.” Jimmy looks down. “Give it to me, and with the ability to contact my agents, I am now in the position to take out the Forgettables. Remember Eddy? Well, I think he will tell us everything. They didn’t kill him, and he owes his life to you, Jimmy.” John looks at Jimmy. “I couldn’t let someone die. Not if I could help him. I know you probably kill the bad guys but I just couldn’t. Besides, he won’t be going back to the gang.” “You did a noble thing, Jimmy. I think with a little rehab, Eddy the criminal will become Eddy the good. I suspect he will be sticking around the Fauster home.” John winks at Jimmy. “Well!” Irene jumps up. “I’m glad I’m not the only one you wink at.” She smiles. “Come on Jimmy, give him the list.” “Actually, Irene, you have it.” John turns to her. “What, me? No I don’t; you are being silly.” “Irene...I haven’t been completely honest with you. I put the piece of paper into a tiny ball and stuck it into the pendant you are wearing. I was carrying around blank papers just in case someone wanted to trade my life for them. “And it’s not just any pendant. The crystal in the pendant is used to open the weaponry safe. Your grandfather had it made: you put the pendant into a keyhole, and two lasers enter the crystal, which
directs the lasers into the correct hole in the lock. There are about a million holes, and if you put it in the wrong one an alarm goes off. Yes, your grandfather was quite a genius.” Irene quickly takes off the pendant and hands it to John. “Please, take this and leave. It’s cost us enough in our family already.” “I’m going, but I’m taking you all with me.” And John takes out a cell phone, dialing a number. “Joe. Codeword Moses, track my phone, but stop and pick up a Jean Fauster and a man called Eddy. Ok. See you in 20 minutes.” “We can’t go with you!” Irene protests. “Irene we must, for our own protection,” Jimmy persuades. “And besides Irene, I like winking at you.” And John winks again. “Thanks to you two, the Forgettables will be destroyed in a matter of hours. Eddy will tell us everything; he has nothing to lose. Now let’s head to the entrance. We have some celebrating to do once that helicopter gets here!” They head towards the opening of the cave. “Wait, John, tell me...why were you on foot this morning?” Irene inquires. “I had to jump out of my car and run for it, hence my dirty clothing, my lack of mobility, and then there you were, looking so pretty and frustrated in the ditch. I simply had to help you.” He winks at her again.
The Problems of Laurie King
by Kevin Derby
“The Beekeeper’s Apprentice” and others Laurie King has established herself as one of Russell’s theological background never intrudes in the the leading mystery writers of our era, and she is a books, King’s does. In A Monstrous Regiment of Women, solid craftswoman of prose. While her stories about King has a female-led church talk--in depth--about the lesbian detective Kate Martinelli have a following, King rocketed to prominence based on The Beekeeper’s origins of Christianity. These characters have a flawed, at Apprentice, one of the best mystery novels of the last best, take on the origins of Christianity and Russell, who is Jewish, ends up admiring them more than not. A Letter decade of the twentieth century. In The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, King has Mary of Mary is even worse, as King offers her thoughts on what Mary Magdalene’s role in the early Church really Russell, a young American theology student, pair up with the legendary Sherlock Holmes. Russell is more was--and of course tries to argue that humanity has been than a match for Holmes in terms of her intelligence. ignoring what Jesus wanted for the last twenty centuries. King’s religious problems are compounded by Taking some liberty with Holmes’ age as established placing her purloined character in a square peg. Indiana by Arthur Conan Doyle, King has the great detective Jones is well suited for a mystery involving the Bible take Russell under his wing and mentor her. They face and ancient artifacts. Sherlock Holmes simply is not. living in England during World War One and solve Even Conan Doyle, a spiritualist with many odd beliefs, some minor cases before being forced to confront never put his creation in these types of situations. Conan a dangerous killer who has ties to an old enemy of Doyle fans will have a hard time accepting King’s take Holmes, who is just as sharp as they are. It is an on Holmes. While Conan Doyle was more than content exciting and suspenseful mystery with two solid lead showing his creation as a lifelong bachelor who looked characters. down on romantic relationships, King has no problem Since 1995, King has written ten sequel novels, with Holmes marrying a woman almost four decades his as well as short stories and a novella featuring her take junior. on Holmes. None of them come close to matching The There are some solid novels here. The Moor Beekeeper’s Apprentice, and there are several reasons and Justice Hall are both strong, though nowhere for this. near as good as The Beekeeper’s Apprentice. Some King, simply put, has one idea--and only of the latter novels are very weak, as King relies too one idea--on how to launch a story. In A Monstrous often on coincidence, especially in Locked Rooms. As Regiment of Women, an old friend of Russell’s needs Conan Doyle’s stories clearly show, Holmes relies on help. An old friend of Russell and Holmes needs help his intellect to solve the cases--not mere chance or the in A Letter of Mary. Someone from Holmes’ past needs repeated use of astonishing coincidences. Once again, assistance in The Moor. O Jerusalem takes place during King shows a complete disregard for one of the most The Beekeeper’s Apprentice--but King resorts back to beloved characters in the English language and stories form in her next book as old friends of Holmes and that are still widely popular after more than a century in Russell need help in Justice Hall. An old friend of print. Holmes needs help in The Game while an old family While there are solid novels in the Russell/ friend of Russell gets in trouble in Locked Rooms. Holmes series--and The Beekeeper’s Apprentice is Finally, a relation to Holmes needs assistance in the excellent--King’s faults and flaws, not to mention the fact latest two novels--The God of the Hive and Pirate King. that she hammers readers with her views on everything The constant abuse of this plot line to start the story is from religion to same-sex relations, get in the way of the absurd, to say the least. story. Some of King’s books can be found in the discount Even worse, King allows her graduate studies sections of the major bookstores--and, frankly, they in theology to get in the way of her books. While belong there. 24
reviewed by Allison DeWolf
Small Town Girl, Big Time Adventure As a hard-core mystery fan, I read almost all of the Nancy Drew books when I was younger. I was in 8th grade when the movie came out, and I remember being super excited! At that point, watching a movie featuring one of my favorite sleuths was a dream come true, but watching now that I’m older, I had a couple different thoughts. The basic plot of the movie revolves around Mr. Drew and Nancy moving to California for Mr. Drew’s job. Nancy promises not to do any sleuthing while there, but as the mystery of their house’s previous owner unfolds, she can’t help herself. She teams up with an unlikely friend and solves the mystery. While the movie isn’t based directly on a Nancy Drew book, I can certainly see how it would fit in with the series. The story line is along the same lines as the rest of the series. Nancy gets into some sticky situations and, in typical Nancy-esque fashion, somehow manages to get out of every single one. While this isn’t the most “realistic” part of the movie, I also really think that Nancy’s ability, both in the books and the movie, to get out of these tight spots is what makes her unique. Honestly, what would Nancy Drew be without getting into trouble?! Carson Drew makes several appearances in the movie, and as far as I can remember, is very much like Nancy’s father in the book. Mr. Drew is very concerned with Nancy’s well-being, and that really comes out in the movie. Another character in common with the books and the movie is Ned. Now, I’m guessing
that most girls who have read the Nancy Drew series like Ned. While Ned doesn’t live in California, he does come to visit Nancy and Mr. Drew while they are there, so he’s in a good part of the movie. He looked exactly as I had pictured him, and I think they did a wonderful job casting him. I’ve explained why I did like the movie, now let me say the very, very slight problems I had with it. Nancy seemed more stuck up than I remembered. Instead of being the hero that she was in River Heights, she was looked at as a goody-two-shoes. She dresses in an old fashioned way that makes her stand out, and uses old fashioned items (except for her computer and iPod…). Unfortunately, it is only at the very end of the movie that the girls who have been against Nancy for the whole movie realize that she’s pretty cool. I also didn’t like Nancy’s new “friend.” I don’t want to say too much and give something away! All in all, I liked the Nancy Drew movie, and I hope that they make another, but I also would prefer that they make a movie based directly on a book. I think that doing so will attract larger number of viewers. I do recommend this movie, and I would be interested in all of your opinions on it!
In 1926, the dearly loved Hardy Boys books were created by Edward Stratemeyer. The year 1930
editors decided to use “Nan Drew,” and lengthened
saw the creation of Nancy Drew, the greatly loved
Nan to Nancy.
girl detective by Stratemeyer as well. Both series
When The Hardy Boys where taken to Grosset
were ghostwritten under the names Franklin W.
& Dunlap, on the other hand, Stratemeyer suggested
Dixon and Caroline Keene. Most of The Hardy Boys
that the books be called The Keene Boys, The
series was actually written by a gentleman named
Scott Boys, The Hart Boys, or The Bixby Boys. For
Leslie McFarlane, and the Nancy Drew series was
unknown reasons, the editors went with The Hardy
written by a lady named Mildred Benson.
When Edward Stratemeyer first brought up
One thing that many people may or may not
the idea of the Nancy Drew series to the Grosset and
notice is that both The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew
Dunlap publishing company, who were publishing
books are written as a kind of form novel. All of
The Hardy Boys series at the time, he suggested that
the books in both series have twenty chapters and
they call the series Stella Strong stories, Diana Drew
are between 170 pages and 180 pages. The series’,
stories, Diana Dare stories, Nan Nelson stories, Nan
however, follow their main character(s) in different
Drew stories, or Helen Hale stories. After looking
at the names that Stratemeyer had given them, the
In a Nancy Drew mystery, when Nancy stumbles upon a mystery, it is either connected to something that her father is working on, or someone asks her to solve it. Nancy either works alone or with her friends, Bess and George, their dates, Burt and Dave, and her special friend Ned. Though a lot of her mysteries happen in or around River Heights, Nancy will on occasion travel to different states or out of the country to solve one. Some of the places that she has traveled to are Japan, New York, Turkey, and Illinois. When she is working on a mystery, Nancy does work with her father on occasion. When she does, Nancy
enjoys it as well as working with her aunt, who will
country. They also enjoy working closely with their
at times give her a mystery to work on.
father, a bit more than Nancy Drew, when there is a
Frank and Joe Hardy work on any mystery
mystery. Though they are similar, both the Nancy
that comes their way, and they like working together. As in the Nancy Drew series, the Hardys will come
Drew series and The Hardy Boys have their slight
across a mystery that is either connected to one that
differences. One difference is how closely the Hardy
their father is working on, or someone will ask them
boys work with their father on a mystery, compared
to work on one for them. At times their friends Chet,
to the fact that Nancy and her father donâ€™t often
Biff, Phil, Jerry, and Tony like to help them work
work on mysteries together. Even though there are
on solving the mysteries. Though she doesnâ€™t really
differences here and there in the books, anyone can
seem interested when she actually is in the mysteries
and will enjoy a good Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys
that Frank and Joe do, their Aunt Gertrude likes to
visit the Hardy family. Again, like in the Nancy Drew series, the mysteries that Frank and Joe work on will sometimes take them either out of state or out of the
There’s Nothing Better than a
by Shaylynn Rackers
It all began in first grade. I had just moved to a new town, and the thought of first grade made me tremble with excited expectation. First grade, in my six-year-old mind, was the start of the biggest adventure of my life. Little did I know how many adventures I was about to embark on. Within the first few weeks at my new school, I got into the red reading group. This was an honor of indescribable awesomeness, and it meant that I would start reading chapter books during reading class. Chapter books! My parents had taught me that every book was just a box that held magical lands and exciting stories, and chapters must be chock full of adventures! Imagine! Our first chapter book, The Boxcar Children, captivated my imagination. I discussed the fate of the Alden children with my three best friends for weeks. We started to read more Boxcar Children during our breaks and giddily looked forward to the library time each Friday. My mom introduced me to The Bobbsey Twins and Encyclopedia Brown. Soon kid-detective stories were
swapping backpacks at the end of every school day. You know those little Scholastic books? Our school library was overflowing with them. I was never very into books like Junie B. Jones or Captain Underpants, so I was thrilled one day to find a paperback with a picture of a girl detective: Cam Jansen. She had a “camera” memory and--if I remember correctly--was friends with identical twins. I was so very jealous of Cam’s memory and practiced all the time to see if I could learn to memorize everything that I saw. I can still remember the day that I finished my first Cam Jansen book; we were in the minivan getting gas, and a man with a tan Carhartt jacket was walking by a sign advertising donuts with sprinkles for $5. When I was old enough to use the internet on my own, I googled “photographic memory tips” and was devastated to find that the Wikipedia page claimed that the existence of true eidetic memory is questionable and that it appears to be something one is born with. I sadly realized that I
illustrations: Boxcar Children, Encyclopedia Brown, Bobbsey Twins, Trixie Belden, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew
could never be a Cam Jansen. However, all that practice was not for naught--I still have an uncanny ability to remember some things that I see. Especially colors. It’s distracting when I picture the color of a person’s shirt when I’m trying to remember the words he was saying. It’s entirely Cam Jansen’s fault! My friend Emily was one of the best readers in our class. One day in second grade, we held a reading competition. Detective stories only, of course. I read two and a half Boxcar Children books in one day. Emily read two Nancy Drews. To second graders, Nancy Drew seemed as long as The Complete Works of Charles Dickens. She totally beat me. I’m not sure what it is about detective stories that makes them so intriguing. Perhaps it’s the thrill of discovering something hidden,
or the intellectual puzzle of putting together unexpected odds and ends until that brilliant Aha! moment when everything suddenly makes sense. Adventure is definitely part of it. I made a detective club with some friends that at one point included every girl in the class (boys strictly prohibited!). We ran around pretending to be Harriet the Spy, looking for dangerous things to write about in our TOP SECRET notebooks. We never found any real adventures, but we had a rollicking good time during recess and creeped some people out. I still have one of those notebooks full of strange conspiracy theories. One entry said: “Carie herd strange noises last nite. Megan says its gohsts. I disagree. Someone is stealing stuff,” followed by the cryptic: “orange rabbits.” My detective club notebook was also full of codes and ciphers. I’ve always loved secret writing, because everyday, run-of-the-mill, humdrum English can be so boring. Why write something in easy-to-read English when you can encode it in a crazy
complicated way and drive your friends nuts as they attempt to make sense of your strange cipherwriting? Things only got worse when I got a monoalphabetic substitution cipher wheel in a Jigsaw Jones boxed book set. After that, it was Morse Code and shorthand and something made up of random Korean letters. After a while, when I’d read every Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy book in our small town library, my mom introduced me to Trixie Belden. She had an entire collection of thirty-nine gloriously musty books in my grandparents’ basement. Trixie and her bestie Honey were frequently kidnapped or in danger, and their adventures fed my melodramatic imagination. I scared a friend once when I suggested we fake tying her to a chair (I did say fake tie!) so that I could karate-chop my little brother (who, of course, played the criminal mastermind) to save her from the clutches of a bank robber. I wish she’d agreed to play along. It would have been so much fun!
As I grew older, I fell in love with classic mystery novels: Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie, and Father Brown. But the American detective stories I read as a little kid have always remained with me. Thanks to them, I know how to treat a snake wound and what an area code is. Only last month I wrote a research paper on cryptology and discovered that the code wheel I got from Jigsaw Jones is called a “monoalphabetic substitution cipher wheel.” Although my favorite book genre has changed, thanks to detective stories, I now read all fantasy novels through the lens of a magnifying glass. Hey, it helps me find plot holes!
Hi Ink and Fairy Dust Readers! Welcome! My name is Marie-Clare Pfang, and hopefully my column and I will be boring you for many days to come; at least, that’s the idea! Unless I become too monotonous, or the strain of trying becomes too great. Because of my rather glorious (don’t you think?) goal, I suppose that I had better introduce myself so you know what you’re up against. Many centuries ago, I was born (unfortunately) to my lovely parents in Norwich, a small city in England. Norwich is in the county of Norfolk, and is the birthplace of a very famous and important person. Do any of you have any idea to whom I am referring? (Apart from me, of course!) Well, I’ll give you all a hint: he helped save England from the Frogs--I mean the French--and lost his life in the Battle of Trafalgar. Got it, yet? (Come on, history buffs!) Okay, if you still haven’t, then I’ll tell you. Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson was born in the county of Norfolk--actually, a few miles away from where my family and I used to live. Unfortunately, his house has been demolished and a more ‘updated’ one now sits on the site, so if any of you do get to visit Nelson’s birthplace, you’ll only being seeing a commemorative plaque. If you hadn’t heard of him before, then you’ve just learnt some history! If you’re interested, then check this out: http://www. northnorfolkimages.co.uk/location/ burnhamthorpe.html
After a lifetime in Norfolk, my parents moved themselves and us (my siblings and I) to London, where we lived permanently for a few thousand years. Well, actually, it wasn’t permanently; in fact, we bounced around quite a few times in that period of time. Finally, our hearts yearned for something different, and so they bundled us up and moved us to Texas! (Tortillas, anyone?) There is this rather rampart saying around here, that goes something like this: “I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could.” In my case, this wasn’t the case, because we took an average pace, and only ‘graced’ (joking) the hot and dry lands of Texas around one and a half years ago. Anyway, so here I am, living in Fort Worth, where supposedly “the West begins!” At least, that was what I was told a few weeks ago at the Fort Worth Stock Show. Apologies to readers from Dallas, if any are out there. I suppose I’m biased. If an authentic Texan cowboy tells you that, what else can you do but agree? America--Texas in particular--has been a change from the European culture that I am used to. I get asked by my American friends, “So what’s different, MarieClare? Any big things?” Well, there are a lot of things--but big things? No. That doesn’t seem to be the way they expect me to respond. Granted, the ‘big’ changes could be that the weather is a lot hotter; the roads are bigger; the landscape drier. But that’s okay. You get used to it. What I find
most significant are the small, subtle changes: the way people think, react, and act; the whole mental psychology. In addition, I probably haven’t seen the ‘real’ America out there--depending, of course, on what you define as ‘real.’ However, I’m homeschooled! My five sisters and one brother have always been, and so are thankfully sheltered from the prevalent ‘teen culture’ of today. (If one could call it that.) We’re also practicing Catholics, and I love being one. Don’t you think it’s cool? I’m really excited to be writing for a magazine which I’m sure (guessing on the fans that Regina Doman has) has readers that share that unique bond: the Catholic Faith. (In addition to a love of great fiction!) My poor and humble column will hopefully be able to detail my experiences in America, and share with you things from a ‘European’s point of view.’ Yeah, I know? I’m a Lobster-Back in the Heart of Texas. So, don’t be alarmed if you see ‘foreign’ expressions littered here and there, or a sprinkling of ‘unnecessary’ u’s--such as in colour and neighbour-or ‘unwanted’ s’s--such as in realise. That doesn’t mean that I’m an F student in spelling! If any of you have any questions, please feel free to ask me. I’d love to answer them in any way possible. I warn you, though: I am a complete newbie at this! I have never written a column before, and so I’m not exactly sure what the common protocol is. However, hopefully I’ll learn fast.
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In addition to publishing Regina Domanâ€™s Fairy Tale Novels, Chesteron Press is now also publishing the John Paul 2 High series which she helped to create. JP2H Book 3: Summer of My Dissent, is now available for purchase!
Coming Soon July-August 2012 fantasy magic tolkien, lewis, rowling, and more