The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity (Brixton Brothers Series #1)by Mac Barnett, Adam Rex
Seventh-grader Steve Brixton is an avid reader of the Bailey Brothers series, and he’s about to get a chance to put the detective tactics he’s read so much about into practice. He’s out to solve a mystery being investigated by America’s most secret crime solving agency: the United States Department of Library Sciences. It will take all… See more details below
Seventh-grader Steve Brixton is an avid reader of the Bailey Brothers series, and he’s about to get a chance to put the detective tactics he’s read so much about into practice. He’s out to solve a mystery being investigated by America’s most secret crime solving agency: the United States Department of Library Sciences. It will take all of Steve’s skills to navigate this story of intrigue and crime as he tracks down the missing quilt (yes, quilt) containing all of America’s secrets.
Read an Excerpt
The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity
THE BAILEY BROTHERS’ DETECTIVE HANDBOOK tells you how to size up suspicious characters, which is useful if you’re eating dinner with safecrackers, or cat burglars, or your mom’s new boyfriend. Here’s what the handbook says about identifying crooks:
Hey, sleuths! Shawn and Kevin are always on the lookout for lawbreakers! You should keep your eyes peeled too. There are scoundrels everywhere! Spotting baddies is easy. They all look, dress, and act in a certain way! Take it from the Bailey Brothers: There are really only three types of criminals, and once you’ve got their distinguishing features memorized, you’ll be an unstoppable crime-solving machine!
TYPE 1: The Tough Greasy hair Scars on face Stubble Tattoos Loud necktie Cheap suit Poorly concealed knife or gun Limp
TYPE 2: The Ringleader Red hair Shifty eyes Uses gel or pomade Well-trimmed mustache Turtleneck Tall, slender build Mysterious pinkie ring Dressy trousers Limp
TYPE 3: The Hermit Long white hair Wrinkly Crazy gleam in eye Missing teeth Large beard Uses an anchor as a weapon Torn shorts Limp
Steve’s mom had a new boyfriend, a.k.a. Rick. Even though he’d never met Rick, Steve already knew he didn’t like him. Rick might just be a dangerous criminal. Steve secretly hoped so.
When Steve came downstairs, Rick was standing in the kitchen with his hands clasped behind his back. His mom was there too, nervously stirring a pot of spaghetti. Steve strode into the room, looking hard at Rick but trying hard to look like he wasn’t looking.
“I’m Rick,” said Rick. “You must be Steven.”
Rick was five feet ten inches tall.
“Steve,” said Steve.
Rick had a blond mustache.
“I’ve heard a lot about you, Steve,” Rick said.
Rick had no knife scars or prison tattoos. At least no visible ones.
“Great,” said Steve, who never knew what to say when people told him they’d heard a lot about him.
It looked like Rick blow-dried his hair.
Rick didn’t have a limp.
Rick was dressed in the tan uniform of an Ocean Park police officer.
And so even Steve had to admit that Rick didn’t fit the description of a hardened criminal. Too bad.
For a few seconds nobody spoke.
“Dinner’s ready!” said Steve’s mom, a little too cheerfully.
Rick was off the hook. For now. There was always Bailey Brothers #24: The Crooked Cop Caper.
Rick may not have looked like a criminal, but he sure ate like a goon. When he sucked noodles off his fork, he sounded like a vacuum cleaner in need of repair.
“What do you like to do for fun, Steve?” Rick asked after slurping a seemingly endless noodle into his mouth.
“I don’t know,” Steve answered. “Stuff.”
Rick raised his eyebrows.
“Steve’s a big reader,” Carol Brixton offered helpfully.
Great. Now Steve was going to have to talk to Rick about books.
“Oh, yeah?” said Rick. “What do you like reading?”
“The Bailey Brothers.”
“Hey,” said Rick, “those books were big when I was a kid. They’re about spies, right?”
“Detectives.” It took all Steve’s willpower to keep his eyes from rolling. Only a doofus thought the Bailey Brothers were spies.
“Right. Detectives. The Bailey Brothers were those kids who were always riding around on motorbikes, saying ‘gee whiz’ and ‘golly’ while breaking up smuggling rings.” Rick was smiling in a way Steve didn’t like. “Well, let me tell you from experience, Steve. Real private detectives are nothing like those Bailey Brothers.”
Steve clenched his teeth. He felt his neck heating up. The Bailey Brothers were real private detectives. This guy didn’t know what he was talking about.
“Trust me,” said Rick, tapping his badge. “I know what I’m talking about. In the real world, detectives don’t use magnifying glasses. They don’t race around in roadsters. There are no hidden passageways. Nope, private detectives spend most their time alone in their cars, eating french fries and spying on jealous men’s wives.”
Steve wished he could wallop Rick with a haymaker punch right to the kisser, just like Shawn Bailey would do. He looked at his mom for help. Unbelievable: His mom was smiling at Rick. She actually seemed interested in what this guy was saying.
“Yep,” said Rick, “real detective work is done by the cops. Take the case I’m working on now, trying to catch this guy they call the Blackbird Robber.”
“The Blackbird Robber?” said Steve’s mom. “Sounds interesting, doesn’t it, Steve?”
Steve had to admit it did sound interesting. Still, he wasn’t going to say so.
“Yep. The Blackbird Robber. A jewel thief. This guy has been terrorizing all the rich old ladies in Ocean Park. Just last week he stole a ring from Mrs. Wertheimer, the woman who owns that mansion on the cliffs. This ring was worth fifty thousand dollars.” Rick whistled. “He took it while she was on a drive up the coast. And nobody can figure out how.” Rick leaned over his elbows and lowered his voice. “The whole place was locked up. Mrs. Wertheimer has the best burglar alarm money can buy. Motion sensors all over the house. Guard dogs so fierce you could catch rabies just from looking at them. I mean, this woman’s got a serious jewel stash, and she’s gone out of her way to make sure it stays safe, you know? But when the old lady got back home that night, the ring was missing from her bedroom. And get this: There were no broken windows, no open doors, and no fingerprints anywhere.”
“My goodness!” said Steve’s mom. Steve didn’t say anything. But he was listening.
“Here’s the weird thing,” Rick said. “The thief didn’t take anything else. This ring was sitting out on a dresser next to a bunch of necklaces, bracelets, fancy watches. But he only took the ring. Guess he’s not too greedy.” Rick chuckled.
Steve rocked back and forth in his chair. He could think better when he was moving.
“Why do they call him the Blackbird Robber?” Steve asked.
“That’s the best part. Every place the thief hits, he leaves behind a calling card: a single black feather. This guy’s so confident he’s taunting us.”
“How exciting!” said Steve’s mom.
“Very exciting.” Rick grinned. “I’ve been pulling up files on jewel thieves from all over the state, and I’m working some promising leads. See, Steve, that’s what real detective work is all about: hard work and diligence.” Rick emphasized his point by gracefully weaving a forkful of pasta through the air and slurping the noodles horribly. His mouth full of spaghetti, Rick said, “And don’t worry. Rick Elliot always gets his man.”
Steve looked right at Rick. “I’m not sure your thief is a man.”
Rick stopped chewing. “A female robber, huh? Look, I’ve always believed women are equal”—Rick looked meaningfully at Carol—“but most jewel thieves are men. That’s just a fact. I mean these guys steal jewelry—they don’t wear it.” Rick laughed at his own joke, and little pieces of spaghetti flew out of his mouth. “But sure, Steve, just for you: Rick Elliot always gets his man or woman.”
Steve kept his eyes on Rick. “I’m not sure the thief is even a human.”
Rick almost spit out a meatball.
Meet the Author
Mac Barnett is the author of the Brixton Brother series and several picture books, including Guess Again! and Chloe and the Lion (both illustrated by Adam Rex), and the New York Times bestseller Extra Yarn. He’s on the board of directors of 826LA, a nonprofit writing center, and founded the Echo Park Time Travel Mart, a convenience store for time travelers. Mac lives in Oakland, California.
Adam Rex has written and illustrated several picture books, including Tree Ring Circus and Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich as well as the novel, The True Meaning of Smekday. He and his wife live in Tucson, Arizona.
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