Authors: Simon Cheshire
‘Talk about being involved in a book! Sharp reads written in a lively and snappy style.’
‘Wise-cracking, engaging style, reminiscent of the Sherlock Holmes stories, so that the reader is expected to act as Watson.’
‘If you have a boy who is losing enthusiasm for books, try tempting him with Saxby Smart … It is hard not to be engaged.’
First published in Great Britain in 2008
by Piccadilly Press Ltd,
5 Castle Road, London NW1 8PR
Text copyright © Simon Cheshire, 2008
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical,
photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner.
The right of Simon Cheshire to be identified as Author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
ISBN-13: 978 185340 983 7 (paperback)
3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2
Printed in the UK by CPI Bookmarque, Croydon CR0 4TD
Cover design and illustration by Patrick Knowles
My name is Saxby Smart, and I’m a private detective. I go to St Egbert’s School, my office is in the garden shed, and this is the second book of my case files.
Unlike some detectives, I don’t have a sidekick, so that part I’m leaving up to you – pay attention, I’ll ask questions.
M NOT VERY GOOD AT
making things. If I ever do one of those plastic construction kits (you know, fighter planes,
sports cars, etc.), I always end up with it covered in patches of glue. And a piece stuck on backwards. And another piece that falls off as soon as I put the finished model on my shelf.
So I should have known better than to try to fix my Thinking Chair. As readers of Volume One of my case files will know, my Thinking Chair is a vital part of my work as a brilliant schoolboy
detective. It’s a battered old leather armchair, and in it I sit, and I think, and I mull over important facts about whatever case I happen to be working on.
My Thinking Chair had developed a slight rip on one of the arms. One afternoon during the spring half-term hols, I was in the garden shed trying to patch it with a piece of super-tough
heavy-duty repair tape.
Guaranteed 100% Bonding Power!
it said on the roll. The trouble was, it was one hundred per cent bonding my fingers together.
Just as I was wishing I’d asked my very practical friend ‘Muddy’ Whitehouse to do the job for me instead, there was a knock at the shed door. Immediately, I heard the sign fall
off (the sign I keep nailing up outside, which says
Saxby Smart – Private Detective
). I sighed to myself.
‘Come in!’ I called.
In came Charlie Foster, a boy in my year group at school. He was an owlish kid, the sort of person who gives the impression of being tubby even when they aren’t. He wore tiny round
glasses, and had a habit of sniffing a lot.
He looked around the cluttered interior of the shed. Half of it, as always, was crammed with old gardening and DIY stuff of my dad’s (I’d found that super-tape in amongst it). The
other half of the shed was crammed with my desk, my files and my Thinking Chair.
He handed me the sign from outside. ‘Hello, Saxby. Is this yours?’ he said.
You can tell he wasn’t the sharpest tool in the box, can’t you? He was also looking a little scared, and carrying a slightly crumpled handwritten note.
‘What can I do for you, Charlie?’ I asked. ‘Who’s told you to come and see me?’
He sniffed in amazement. ‘How did you know it wasn’t my idea?’
‘People who need my services don’t normally turn up looking as if they don’t want to be here,’ I said. ‘Besides, that note you’ve got there is written in an
adult’s handwriting. My guess is that someone has written down some specific information.’
‘Yes,’ said Charlie, with another sniff. ‘My big brother Ed. He’s nineteen.’
‘And why does your brother Ed need my help?’
‘His comic’s been stolen.’
My eyes narrowed. ‘Hmmm. Yeeees, I can see that would be annoying. I don’t want to sound rude, but, umm, wouldn’t this be filed under Not All That Important? Or possibly under
I’ll Go And Get Another Copy?’
Charlie suddenly remembered the note, smoothed it out a little and double-checked something written on it. ‘This comic is worth one hundred thousand pounds.’
. ‘What’s it made of, solid gold?’
I fell back into my Thinking Chair. This made the rip in the arm worse, but right now I was more concerned to hear the details of Charlie’s problem. Or rather, his brother Ed’s
problem. Charlie blew the dust off an old crate full of paint pots and sat down.
‘Ed is a collector of comics,’ said Charlie. ‘He buys and sells them, and he’s got shelves full of really old and valuable ones.’
‘As it’s a weekday afternoon, and he’s sent you here rather than come himself, I deduce that he normally needs to be somewhere at this time of day. So trading comics is his
hobby, not his job?’ I said.
‘Yes, that’s right,’ said Charlie, ‘he works at the restaurant in Frizinghall Street. He’s a chef. But he’s hoping to become a full-time trader. Or he was,
until this comic was stolen.’
I settled down in my Thinking Chair, trying to ignore the low ripping noise that was still coming from the arm. ‘So, tell me all about this comic, and what exactly has happened.’
‘It’s Issue 1 of
The Tomb of Death
,’ said Charlie. He consulted Ed’s note again. ‘Published in America in 1950. There were only a few thousand copies made,
and there are less than six known to still exist.’
‘And what’s so special about Issue 1 of
The Tomb of Death
‘Dunno, never read it,’ shrugged Charlie. ‘But comic collectors dream of owning a copy. It’s one of the most valuable comics in the world, so Ed says.’
‘And when was it stolen?’ I asked. ‘Give me every detail you can.
‘Ed keeps it . . . er, kept it . . . in the wall safe downstairs at our house. Dad had the safe put in because he sometimes has a load of money in the house, if he can’t get to the
bank after his shop’s shut. But Ed uses it mostly.
The Tomb of Death
was in a see-through plastic case, propped up at the back of the safe.’
‘And how long had it been there?’
‘Ed inherited it a couple of years ago. Our granddad used to be an avid comic reader when he was our age, and when he died he left two big boxes of old comics to Ed. And in amongst them
The Tomb of Death
‘It was always kept in the safe?’
‘Always. Ed hardly ever took it out. It was far too valuable and delicate to handle. It stayed in the safe twenty-four-seven!’
‘Why didn’t Ed sell it?’
‘I think he was going to. I’m not sure, you’ll have to ask him.’
‘And when was it stolen?’
‘Last weekend. Dad opened the safe on Monday morning, and it was gone.’
‘Just like that?’
‘Just like that.’
‘The safe had been cracked? You’d had a burglar?’
‘Ed and Dad say not. We have an alarm system, and that hadn’t been tripped. The safe has its own alarm, and that wasn’t tripped either.’
‘Was it there on Sunday?’
‘Yes. Dad put the weekend’s takings from his shop in there. The comic was still in the safe then. Definitely. I saw it myself.’
‘So there was a lot of money in the safe that night?’
‘Yes. That’s why the safe was opened on Monday morning: to get the money out so Dad could take it to the bank.’
A couple of important points had already become clear to me. One of them was about the safe, about
someone had gained access to that comic. The second important point was about the
comic itself, about
the thief had stolen
, rather than the money that was also in there. Can you work out what I was thinking?