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IT WAS SUNDAY, which was Steve Brixton’s least favorite day of the week, and the sun was setting, which was Steve Brixton’s least favorite part of a Sunday. But Steve was on his living room couch reading Bailey Brothers #19: The Strange Case of the Strangest Stranger, which was part of Steve Brixton’s most favorite series of all time: the Bailey Brothers Mysteries.
The Bailey Brothers Mysteries were fifty-eight high-octane adventures featuring Shawn and Kevin Bailey, two quick-thinking, hard-punching teens who never met a case they couldn’t crack, a motorcycle they couldn’t ride, or an avalanche they couldn’t cause and subsequently survive. Sleuthing ran in their family: They were the sons of the great American detective Harris Bailey, and they were terrific sleuths in their own right.
There were fifty-eight thrilling and perfect Bailey Brothers mysteries in all—starting with Bailey Brothers #1: The Treasure in Trouble Harbor and ending with Bailey Brothers #58: Spacejacked!—all written by the same author, MacArthur Bart.
MacArthur Bart, a.k.a. America’s Mystery King, a.k.a. Steve’s hero, had also written the book Steve loved above all others: The Bailey Brothers’ Detective Handbook. The handbook was packed with Real Crime-Solving Tips—stuff like How to Make a Plaster Cast of a Scoundrel’s Shoe Print, and Surefire Methods for Defusing Some Kinds of Time Bombs. Basically all the high-level supersleuth stuff.
Steve had the handbook pretty much memorized, but he still carried it around with him wherever he went. In fact Steve had all the plots to the Bailey Brothers Mysteries memorized, but he still liked reading the books second and third times. Plus it was research, since a few weeks ago Steve had officially opened his own business, the Brixton Brothers Detective Agency. Steve didn’t have a brother, or even a sister, but putting “brothers” in the name of your detective agency was a great way to make it sound totally ace.
Right now Steve didn’t have a case to work on, which was why he was lying on the couch—the living room aglow with the last of the day’s sun—and finishing chapter eighteen of his book. A gang of car thieves had just captured the Bailey Brothers and was holding the boys in a sea-cave hideout:
“You creeps will never get away with this!” dark-haired Shawn Bailey hollered. “Crime doesn’t pay!”
The large lawbreaker with the salt-and-pepper beard looked up from the game of cards. “It doesn’t, eh?” he growled. “Then hows come we’ve got enough tourin’ cars and roadsters stashed away in the old barn to make a fortune?”
Shawn and Kevin exchanged a knowing glance. Now they knew where the lawbreakers were stowing the stolen cars! If only they could get free and notify the police. Behind their backs the brothers redoubled their efforts to undo the knots that bound their hands.
“Gin!” shouted the tattooed crook, slapping his cards on the table. “I win again!”
The bearded hood turned to his fellow criminal and frowned. “Go sit on a stalactite, Charlie.”
“I think you mean stalagmite,” interrupted Kevin, who had taken honors in geology. “Stalactites grow from the roof, and stalagmites grow from the ground.”
“An easy way to remember,” Shawn chimed in, “is that the c in ‘stalactite’ stands for ‘ceiling,’ and the g in ‘stalagmite’ stands for ‘ground.’”
“Enough!” roared the bearded lowlife. “I’m gettin’ tired of all this jabberin’. Charlie, gag this pair of Goody Two-shoes until Smokestacks Samuels gets back and tells us what to do with them.”
The man called Charlie stood up and grinned. Gripping two oily rags in his tattooed hand, he limped over to the corner of the cavern where Shawn and Kevin were kept. “This ought to muffle youse two.” He sauntered up to Shawn first and reached for the boy’s face.
Just then, Shawn untied the last knot and freed his hands. Quickly, he brought his fist around in a powerful haymaker punch to Charlie’s solar plexus! The goon collapsed on the limestone floor.
“You kayoed him, Shawn!” whooped Kevin. “Coach Biltmore would be proud!”
Shawn grinned and removed the knife from Charlie’s belt. He hurried over to his brother, making sure to hold the knife with its blade pointing down while he ran, and quickly sawed through Kevin’s bonds.
Meanwhile the big bearded baddie was lumbering toward them, holding a blackjack in his left hand. “It’s gonna be fun whackin’ you two over the head,” he snarled.
“One, two, three!” counted Kevin, and at once the two brothers bum-rushed their opponent. The large man flew back against the cavern wall and slumped to the floor, unconscious. “Jumping junipers!” Kevin exclaimed, brushing his blond hair aside. “We sure took care of those two!”
“You bet we did,” his younger brother replied. “Now what do you say we tie them up and hide out in this cave? I’ll bet you dollars to doorknobs Smokestacks Samuels will be back any minute.”
“We can surprise him!” Shawn agreed. “Then we’ll learn his real identity!”
“I can’t wait to find out who the ringleader of the Viper Gang really is,” Kevin remarked.
Suddenly a silhouette appeared on the rocky outcrop near the roof of the cavern. A high, clear voice rang out in the darkness. “You boys will never make it out of here alive. Nobody messes with Smokestacks Samuels!”
Just then, a high, clear voice rang out in the Brixton household. Steve froze.
© 2010 Mac Barnett