Authors: Simon Cheshire
Saxby Smart – Private Detective
The Curse of the Ancient Mask
The Fangs of the Dragon
The Pirate’s Blood
The Hangman’s Lair
The Eye of the Serpent
Five Seconds to Doomsday
The Poisoned Arrow
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To Brenda, Ruth, Melissa, Vivien, Mary, Becky, Hilary and all the rest of the gang, without whom this production would not have been possible . .
First published in Great Britain in 2009
by Piccadilly Press Ltd,
5 Castle Road, London NW1 8PR
Text copyright © Simon Cheshire, 2009
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: 978 1 84812 037 2 (paperback)
eISBN: 978 1 84812 319 9
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 seventh 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.
OMETIMES, BEING A BRILLIANT SCHOOLBOY
detective – as I am – can have its moments of danger. Not very many, thank
goodness, but it happens now and again.
Looking back through my case files, there have been several times when I’ve been placed in a situation of real, actual, genuine peril. For example, I narrowly avoided falling flat on my
face while chasing the villains in their getaway lorry during the case of
The Bloodsucker’s Grave
. And I was very nearly pushed into a huge tank full of cow poo during
The Mystery of Eviltree Farm
. However, only twice have I ever faced a situation which could truthfully be described as
The case of
The Poisoned Arrow
is perhaps the most hair-raising example.
It was 8.45 p.m. on a Friday evening. A sweeping fog dampened the distant glow of the streetlights. The cloudy, moonless sky cast a darkness over everything that was so deep I kept feeling as if
I was staring into a bottomless pit.
I was standing, alone, on the gravelly forecourt outside the Rackham Road Community Theatre. This theatre, which is situated on the edge of town and which doubles up as a venue for all kinds of
local events, is a rather squat, lumpy building, which looks like it’s been put together using giant toy blocks instead of bricks. Most people call it the ‘Turtle-Shell’. I was
standing close to the hideous statue that’s plonked down outside it, the one which shows four human figures striking dramatic poses. I guess it’s meant to be theatrical.
I was looking for my phone. I’d realised I’d dropped it out there on the gravel somewhere, and it was vital that I retrieved it immediately. I was expecting a very important call, a
call that would signal the endgame of a particularly nasty crime.
In the misty darkness, the crunch of my shoes on the gravel sounded like mountains collapsing. I glanced around nervously. The cold eeriness of the evening set me thinking about one or two
creepy movies I should never have watched. The fog was thickening. The theatre’s full-to-bursting parking area was only fifty metres away, but I could barely make it out. The streetlights on
Rackham Road seemed to have become dimmer.
Where was that blasted phone?
Right by my feet, as it turned out! I glanced down, and there it was. Tutting to myself, I bent down and scooped it up. Good – I hadn’t missed any calls.
I was about to turn and hurry back inside the theatre, when the sound of approaching footsteps froze me to the spot. Pocketing my phone, I stood up and stared uneasily into the surrounding
gloom. I could feel my heart beginning to thump.
Then suddenly, out of the darkness, emerging through the mist came four, five, no six hulking figures – tall, heavy men, all of them smothered in dark coats. They were each wearing a
horrible Halloween pumpkin mask.
I think my heart actually stopped for a few seconds. The crime I’d been expecting was about to take place!
The men marched towards the building, quickly but calmly. The darkness of the theatre’s unlit forecourt was keeping me out of their sight, but I’d be spotted in a matter of seconds.
I had to get away! If they saw me . . .
The heftiest of the men, out in front, was carrying a large canvas bag. It was clearly heavy. Knowing what was about to happen, I realised with horror that inside the bag must be weapons of some
I couldn’t risk being seen! But if I took a single step, the crunch of the gravel would instantly alert them.
I have never, ever,
been so scared in all my life. It felt as if my insides had been forced through a paper shredder.
What could I
At that moment, my phone trilled. Loudly.
The man in front halted. ‘Is someone there?’ he boomed. ‘Show yourself! Now!’
He twitched an arm to usher the others forward.
I didn’t dare breathe. The only thought going through my head was: Why do I let myself get into these messes?
HERE’S THE FLASHBACK
back in time a few days. Imagine everything’s suddenly gone zzzip in reverse, until we arrive at the previous Monday afternoon, about five o’clock. I was in my garden shed – or rather, my Crime
Headquarters, as I prefer to call it.
I’d spent about an hour shoving at the gardening and DIY stuff I’m forced to share the shed with. It had been teetering, in a giant wobbly mound, across my desk and filing cabinet.
I’d managed to crush it back a bit, so that at least it wasn’t in imminent danger of all falling on top of me.
I sat in my Thinking Chair, the battered old red leather armchair where I do all my detective-style pondering. I was sorting through some of the case notes from my filing cabinet, a stack of
papers spread across my knees. I was also keeping half a narrowed eye on that giant wobbly mound of DIY stuff. I was sure those empty paint tins were just waiting for a chance to clatter down on
top of me the minute I wasn’t looking.
At that moment, I heard a new case approaching. The sound of someone doing vocal exercises drifted into the shed. A load of ‘la-la-la-laaaa’s and ‘me-me-me-meeee’s and
random lines from well-known stage musicals were being sung at maximum volume. From the way the sound was bouncing around, I judged that the singer was turning the corner at the end of my street
and walking this way.
How did I know this was a new case coming my way, and not just somebody down the street having a singsong? Two reasons: Firstly, it was the voice of someone about my age, and since there are
surprisingly few other kids of any age in my street (none of whom ever sing in public!), I guessed that this particular kid was probably heading my way. Secondly, there was only one person I knew
who’d be la-ing and me-ing all over the place like that: Tom Bland, the gangly, swirly-blond-haired boy from my school who you may remember from the case of
The Stranger in the
I wouldn’t have called him a friend of mine, as such, but everyone at St Egbert’s School knew Tom Bland. He was rather snobby and rather self-centred, and totally set on being the
world’s greatest actor when he grew up. He could be a right prima donna, too. Oh yes, everyone at St Egbert’s was familiar with Tom Bland.