Framed! (Traces Series #1)

Framed! (Traces Series #1)

5.0 4
by Malcolm Rose

Luke Harding is excited to become the youngest person ever to qualify as a forensics invstigator. He barely has time to celebrate his final exams when Malc, his Mobile Aid to Law and Crime, calls him to their first case. A fellow student has been mysteriously shot dead with an arrow. Two more grisly on-campus murders follow, and all the evidence points to Luke

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Luke Harding is excited to become the youngest person ever to qualify as a forensics invstigator. He barely has time to celebrate his final exams when Malc, his Mobile Aid to Law and Crime, calls him to their first case. A fellow student has been mysteriously shot dead with an arrow. Two more grisly on-campus murders follow, and all the evidence points to Luke himself. The stakes are high as Luke sets out to prove his innocence and show that he has the talent to crack any crime.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
The first in the "Traces" series, this book begins at the boarding school where Luke Harding is about to qualify as a Forensic Investigator (FI). At sixteen, Luke is competent, amusing, and not averse to breaking the rules to get to the answers. He is the youngest FI to ever graduate in the program and this case is vitally important to his future. His robot aide MALC adds an interesting flavor to the novel, as his no-nonsense attitude provides a perfect complement to Luke's irreverence. In addition, MALC's ability to do forensic analysis at the crime scene adds an intriguing knowledge of forensic clues, such as particle type, fingerprint and DNA analysis, and autopsy reporting, to the text. Luke's girlfriend, Jade, also adds an interesting twist to the plot, as she is a musician and under the rules of their society, the two of them cannot be Paired for life if from different career paths. Bad jokes and wisecracking humor, traditional to the detective genre, fill the novel. Nevertheless, the novel is fast-paced and occasionally amusing, and it would be a perfect choice for reluctant readers, who are interested in crime-solving. 2005, Kingfisher Publications/Houghton Mifflin Company, Ages 8 to 18.
—Laura Ruttig\
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Luke Harding, a 16-year-old, newly qualified forensic investigator, is called in on his first murder case when fellow student Crispin Addley is found with an arrow in his heart. Malc (Mobile Aid to Law and Crime), a robot whose technological capabilities include X-ray, lasers and scanners, and an enormous database that can cross-check facts within seconds, helps Luke throughout his investigation. This futuristic novel has a thrilling plot and deadpan humor. Fans of Anthony Horowitz's "Alex Rider" series (Philomel) will enjoy following Luke's action-packed career in which solving crimes sometimes involves saving the world. Lost Bullet takes place in a future England, where London's infrastructure has been so long neglected that trees and vines have created a junglelike atmosphere amid the concrete and brick structures. Crime is rampant, and Luke narrowly escapes gunshots as a sniper shoots at him at the beginning of the novel. He picks up a clue that will help to unravel a murder investigation, again with the help of his trusty robot sidekick, Malc. Luke must infiltrate a dangerous cult called the Visionaries, whose views of medicine and use of violence to achieve their goals make them the perfect suspects. This is a suspenseful, thoughtful, and humorous addition to the series.-Elizabeth Fernandez, Brunswick Middle School, Greenwich, CT Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.\

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Product Details

Publication date:
Traces Series, #1
Product dimensions:
5.26(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.77(d)
760L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The skeleton lay on the classroom floor, and Luke Harding prowled around it,

thinking. Then, on his hands and knees, he went around again, taking a

closer look. Still he didn't touch the specimen. Without looking up, he

pointed to the rib cage and said, "Malc, there's a tiny mark on the sixth rib.

Looks like a knife wound to me. Scan it, will you?"

The flattened orb moved in, hovered above the bleached bones, and swept a

laser over the fault. "It is consistent with a stab wound made by a narrow

blade, pushed in at an approximate downward angle of 43 degrees."

"By looking at the edges of the cut, I'd say it was made on living bone and

not done by cunning examiners on the skeleton. What do you think?"

"I do not have the capacity to think. I conduct forensic tests and supply facts.

I confirm that the wound was inflicted on live bone by a sharp instrument with

a slightly jagged edge."

Luke glanced over his shoulder at Malc. "What's it doing here?"

"Irrational question," the neutral male voice said.

"Well, what sort of exam is this?"

"Criminology, Year 11, Final Qualification, Advanced."

"Right," Luke replied with a grin. "Advanced. So what's a simple knife wound

doing in an advanced exam? I could have spotted it with my eyes closed."

"Illogical and unlikely."

"Oh, loosen up, Malc."

"This is your Final Qualification Examination. Not a time to be loose."

"You're so boring, you know. Anyway, let's do what I'm expected to do—and

fail to get an answer, no doubt. A DNA scan, please."

Malc drifted down the entire length of the skeleton and then reported, "No

traces left exposed."

"Hairs and fibers next."

"None detected."

Luke already knew that there would be no obvious traces to help him

complete the test of determining the victim's identity and the cause of death.

Luke hadn't made it to the top of the class to have the answer handed to him

on a silver platter. "This is a tough exam. Are you getting nervous, Malc? I

didn't know you got nervous."

"Illogical. I am a Mobile Aid to Law and Crime," Malc responded. "Without a

nervous system, I cannot get nervous."

"Confirm the inscription on the back of the watch, please."

"Capital C, dot, capital S, dot. Love, comma, capital F, dot, capital E, dot."

"Mmm." Luke walked slowly around the specimen again. The school

instructors had a stock of skeletons somewhere. They were dragged out one

at a time for practice and examinations. Clearly, this one was supposed to

mimic a murder victim who had lain naked and undisturbed for five years or

so. "No blood, no hair, no DNA, not even tendons or ligaments left, no traces

of clothing. No flesh, so no evidence of flesh wounds.

A completely clean male skeleton with no possessions except a "pairing"

ring and a watch. The only sign of violence is a knife wound that probably

missed the heart—too easy for an advanced exam. No, I've got to be a little

bit more imaginative. Give me an ultraviolet scan."

Under Malc, the white bones began to glow.

"Ever thought of a career as a spotlight in a nightclub?" Luke asked with a

wicked smile. As soon as Malc bathed the skull in crisp blue light, Luke

spotted a faint glimmer from deep inside an eye socket. He cried, "Stop.

Home in on the right eye area, will you? What's that?"

"A thin slice of Fluoroperm 60, circular in shape."

"Ah. An old contact lens, you mean. Now we're flying. What type is it?"

"It was made to correct severe shortsightedness," Malc answered.

"Can you measure the prescription?"


Luke smiled and shook his head. "Go ahead, then."

"To measure it accurately, the lens would have to be rehydrated in saline

solution . . ."

Luke interrupted. "How long does this exam last? Just compare your best

estimate with the optician's database and tell me which men match that


"With experimental error, there are 357 matches. In alphabetical order they

are . . ."

"Stop," Luke cried. "Maybe I'm not quite flying yet. Filter out all those who are

the wrong height. How many left?"


"Taxiing onto the runway," Luke muttered to himself. "Our man has perfect

teeth. Take out everyone who's known to have fillings."

"34 remaining."

"How many with the initials C.S.?"


"How many have a partner with the initials F.E.?"

"Two," Malc replied.

"Two? Not one? Are you sure?"

If a machine could wear a look of indignation, Malc would have worn it.

Luke held up both hands. "Yeah. All right. You're sure. You would have told

me if there'd been any doubt."

Luke hesitated, wondering where he'd find the inspiration to make the final

choice. He glanced back at the strong bones of the left leg and then smiled

to himself. "Does your database have any personal details about these two


"Confirmed, but it is not complete."

"Okay. Tell me if one of them was . . . let me guess . . . a high jumper."

"Correct," Malc replied.

"Liftoff! That's him. So, who's our shortsighted friend?"

"Colin Stanley."

Luke laughed. "Do I detect a hint of relief in your synthesized voice?"

"Illogical. Without a nervous system, I cannot experience emotions."

Luke retorted, "Oh yeah? You almost sighed."

"I must remind you that you still have to establish the cause of death—since

you do not wish to consider stabbing."

"Okay, Malc. Time for you to do a little bit more work—a chemical analysis

on the contact lens. You see, the examiners put it there, and they think,

because it has given me the victim's identity, I'm going to look somewhere

else for the cause of death. But I don't think I've squeezed all the juice out of

it yet."

Malc recorded the infrared and ultraviolet signatures of the contact lens and

then reported, "It does not have any juice . . ."

Luke interrupted. "Never mind. I just want to know if any questionable

chemicals got out of our Colin's body in his tears. If he was poisoned, maybe

there'll be a trace in his contact lens."

"When the lens dried out, it trapped within it a small amount of cyanide. It

has a very distinctive infrared spectrum."

"Good grief! Evidence for soft tissue damage without even having any soft


"Being nonhuman, I do not have the capacity to grieve."

"As a team player, Malc, you're pretty cool, but on a scale of one to ten you

score minus one for sense of humor."

"On a scale of one to ten, there is no minus one," Malc retorted. "For the

purposes of completing the examination, you are required to state your


"Boring." Knowing that Malc would be relaying his performance to The

Authorities, Luke took a deep breath and said, "Colin Stanley suffered a

nonlethal stab wound with a narrow blade but was probably killed by cyanide


Suddenly a woman's voice, speaking through Malc, boomed into the

classroom. "Congratulations. An impressive performance with which to

graduate. At 16, you're the youngest person to pass all of the criminology

tests and complete school. Your first assignment will be given to you soon."

The detached voice of The Authorities paused and then added, "Just for the

record, tell me why you thought the victim was a high jumper."

Luke smiled. "The bone's much more developed in the left leg, like it did a lot

more work than the right, and there's evidence of impact damage—especially

in the knee—so it took quite a beating as well. I thought it might be a high

jumper's takeoff leg. That's all. Just a lucky guess."

"More astute than lucky, Forensic Investigator Harding. You've got a very

sharp eye. Keep your mischievous streak in check, and you'll do well."

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