Meg Mackintosh and the Case of the Curious Whale Watch: A Solve-It-Yourself Mysteryby Lucinda Landon
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On a whale watech, Meg tries to solve a puzzling case involving a stolen treasure map. The reader is asked to solve the mystery before Meg, using clues found in the text and illustrations.
“Fast-paced and credible, the suspense will propel young readers straight through to a satisfying conclusion.” —Booklist
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Meg Mackintosh and the Case of the Curious Whale Watch
A Solve-It-Yourself Mystery
By Lucinda Landon
Secret Passage PressCopyright © 1987 Lucinda Landon
All rights reserved.
"Sharks! Hammerhead sharks," said Peter. "That's what I want to see."
"It figures you'd be more interested in sharks than whales," Meg Mackintosh said to her brother, as they walked down the pier.
"This whale watch expedition is a grand idea," said Gramps. "What do whales watch, anyway?"
"We are going to watch them," said Meg, checking her binoculars. She had also brought her camera, notebook, and detective kit — just in case.
"The captain of the boat is quite famous," Gramps went on. "When he's not running whale watches, he's searching for a long-lost treasure that was buried by pirates in the 1800s, or so the story goes."
"Pirates?" said Peter.
"Lost treasure?" said Meg. "Sounds like a mystery!"
Meg, Peter, Gramps, and Skip boarded the Albatross.
"Welcome aboard!" boomed a hearty voice. "I'm Captain Caleb Quinn.
"That's my mate, Jasper, helping the other passengers.
"Theres a Mrs. Clarissa Maxwell and her nephew, Anthony.
"And a nice old gentleman, Mr. Oliver Morley, and a young student named Carlos de Christopher.
"That's Dr. Peck, Dr. Susan Peck, a marine biologist. I guess we're all here. OK, Jasper, cast off."
"Are you really searching for a lost treasure?" Meg asked the captain, as they headed out to sea.
"I have an old treasure map. I'll show it to you," the captain offered. He went up to the pilothouse and returned with the map. The other passengers gathered around.
"My great-great-uncle got it from a sailor in New Zealand many years ago; he sent it to his brother, and it was passed down through the family until it got to me. Here it is, still in the original envelope.
He sent this scrimshaw, too. It's a carving of a whale on a whale's tooth."
"Did you ever find the treasure?" Meg asked.
"Never did. In all these years, no one has figured out where it is. Well, on with the whale watch. I'll lock this back up. Come on, Peter, you can help me steer."
"The treasure must be worth a lot of money," said Peter, as he followed the captain up to the pilothouse.
"I'll bet it's worth millions!" said Carlos.
"I could use millions," said Anthony. "Don't tell Auntie, but I'm broke if my horse doesn't win at the track today."
"That map should be destroyed," Dr. Peck said to Mr. Morley. "Those treasure hunters are always digging up the environment."
"The map looked quite authentic," replied Mr. Morley. "But I doubt the captain will ever find the treasure."
"Just think," Mrs. Maxwell said wistfully, "all those gems just sitting there."
"I wish I could solve the mystery for Captain Quinn," said Meg. She noticed Mr. Morley's magnifying glass. "Are you a detective?" she asked.
"Oh, no. Not me," said Mr. Morley.
"Thar she blows!" yelled Gramps.
Gramps was right. In the distance, a whale spouted water. Then more whales came to the surface for air.
"Whales travel in groups called pods. In the spring they migrate north to cooler waters," explained the captain. He had turned off the engines and come down from the pilothouse to point out the different whales.
Meg took photographs with her instant camera and jotted in her notebook. "We're studying whales in school," she said to Anthony.
"They're just a bunch of big fish. I only came along for the ride," he replied and stretched out to sunbathe.
"Whales aren't big fish," Meg corrected him. "They're mammals."
"And they'll be extinct if we don't protect them," Dr. Peck added. "I'm researching their migratory patterns. I was just awarded a grant."
"My grant money might be cut," grumbled Carlos. "Then I wouldn't be able to return to college."
Mrs. Maxwell was busier filing her fingernails than watching the whales. "May I put my purse up in the pilothouse for safekeeping?" she asked the captain.
"If you like," Captain Quinn answered. "But hurry, so you don't miss anything."
In a few minutes Mrs. Maxwell returned, and seconds later the captain let out a shout. "Look! There's a finback whale!" he exclaimed. "It's one of the largest and fastest whales. They can grow to be seventy feet long and weigh as much as sixty-five tons."
Dr. Peck ran up to the pilothouse to take photos.
Peter had a telephoto lens, too. "I should get some great shots," he said to Meg. "Much better than that little instant camera of yours."
Meg ignored Peter and went over to Gramps and Mr. Morley.
"I'm hoping to retire soon," Meg overheard Mr. Morley say. "A few investments would help."
"I hate to cut this short," said Gramps, "but I'm feeling a bit seasick. I think I'll go in the cabin and lie down."
Meanwhile, Meg noticed Jasper slipping into a lifeboat with one of Peter's comic books. "Do you help the captain hunt for the treasure?" she asked.
"Never have," Jasper answered. "But I wouldn't mind finding that treasure myself. I'd never have to get on a boat again."
Suddenly, Mrs. Maxwell shrieked, "Look how they jump in the air!"
"That's called breaching," said Captain Quinn. "Some say the whales leap out of the water like that to try to scratch the barnacles off their skin."
Dr. Peck came down from the pilothouse, and Carlos went up to use the telescope. Then he returned to the deck to see some whales that had come quite close to the boat.
"I've already shot three rolls of film," said Peter, as he reloaded his camera. "What time is it, anyway?"
"It's exactly eleven-forty," answered Mr. Morley, flicking his pocket watch open and shut.
"Quick! On the other side!" yelled Peter, aiming his camera. "SHARK FINS!"
Everyone raced through the passenger cabin to the port side of the boat.
"It's not a shark," said Dr. Peck. "It's a humpback whale and her calf. The calf stays with the mother, feeding and learning, for about a year, during which the mother is quite protective of the calf."
"Watch! She's fluking her tail!" exclaimed Meg. "Everyone over here. Let me take your picture with the whales in the background."
"You're blocking my sun," complained Anthony, as Meg was snapping the picture.
"No, it's a storm — and it's moving in fast," said Captain Quinn, observing the clouds. "Looks like a doozy of a nor'easter. Everybody inside, it's going to get rough. And where's that mate of mine?"
Inside the cabin, Gramps was still asleep on the bench. Captain Quinn went to the pilothouse to start up the engines. They could hear the rain begin.
"Dr. Peck is missing," worried Mrs. Maxwell. "Where is she?"
"That's not all that's missing!" said the captain, bursting back into the cabin. "My treasure map is gone! Somebody broke into the strongbox in the pilothouse and stole it. It's got to be one of you!"
The passengers looked at each other in silence. Then the cabin door blew open and in came Dr. Peck. She was drenched.
"Where were you?" said Anthony.
"She was in the pilothouse earlier," said Peter. "I saw her."
"I've been on the deck observing the whales," snapped Dr. Peck. "Not that it's any of your business."
"What's all the noise about?" grumbled Gramps, rubbing his eyes.
While Captain Quinn told Gramps and Dr. Peck what had happened, Meg grabbed her knapsack and darted up to the pilothouse to inspect the scene of the crime.
The padlock on the strongbox had been broken. A handkerchief and some broken pieces of metal lay nearby. Meg got out her magnifying glass to examine the clues. Then she took a photograph.
WHAT CAN YOU DEDUCE FROM THE SCENE OF THE CRIME?
"That's Mrs. Maxwell's handkerchief," said Peter. "It's got 'CM' on it, and the captain said that her first name is Clarissa. And those are pieces of a nail file. I saw her filing her nails, too."
"Sure it's my hankie and my nail file!" cried Mrs. Maxwell. "Someone must have taken them from my purse."
"Or maybe you just wanted it to look that way," said Carlos.
"I didn't steal that old map," she answered defiantly.
"Let me examine the padlock," said Peter. "I might be able to tell if it was broken by a left-handed or right-handed person."
"Is anything else missing, Captain Quinn?" Meg asked.
"No ... that's it," replied the captain.
"Don't worry, Captain," Peter said confidently. "I'll find that map if I have to search everywhere and everyone. I am the president of my Detective Club. By the way, is there any reward?"
Meg rolled her eyes. But she knew Peter was serious about solving the mystery. If I'm going to solve this, she thought to herself, I'd better do it fast — before Peter does and before we get back to shore.
"What time is it?" Meg asked Mr. Morley.
"Sorry, I don't know. My watch is jammed shut," he answered.
Meg took out her notebook and began to make a list of all the suspects and their possible motives. Before long, she realized it wouldn't be easy to spot the thief.
Just about everybody aboard the Albatross had a motive!
Meg was still looking over her list of suspects when Peter burst into the pilothouse. "That mate Jasper has been sneaking around all morning," he said to Meg. "I bet he had something to do with the theft."
"Jasper's had a million chances to steal the map," replied Meg. "Why would he pick today?"
Excerpted from Meg Mackintosh and the Case of the Curious Whale Watch by Lucinda Landon. Copyright © 1987 Lucinda Landon. Excerpted by permission of Secret Passage Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
Lucinda Landon is a children’s book illustrator and the author of American History Mysteries and the Meg Mackintosh Mystery series. She lives in Foster, Rhode Island.
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