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The secret to instant height? Stand on a box.
Want to make your money go further? Roll it down a hill.
The answer to smelly feet? Wear a clothes pin on your nose.
Eleven-year-old Johnny Swanson is in business. He's raking in the money with his advertising scams and his advice columnist persona, who offers advice on absolutely anything in return for a shilling. But his money-making schemes are getting him in too deep with the wrong kinds of people. Everything is spiralling out of control, and now his own mother is in mortal danger. There's only one thing to be done: Johnny must assume another role as undercover detective!
In the spirit of Roald Dahl, this is a funny and delightful story with a satisfying mystery, a wonderful cast of characters, and an unlikely but completely likeable hero.
From the Hardcover edition.
told him more about the sanatorium, and passed on another new word – haemoptysis (or spitting up blood). Not many people were out at such an early hour, but those who were waved happily at the old man and the boy. All except Dr Langford’s neighbour, Miss Dangerfield, who always had a sharp contempt for anything out of the ordinary. She was polishing the brass numbers on her garden gate as Johnny and the doctor reached the end of the paper round. Dr Langford rang the bell on his bike and shouted,
the paper they’d been wrapped in. It was last Wednesday’s Stambleton Echo; a boring page, full of advertisements. People were selling old gardening tools, baby clothes, prams and books. Then one advert caught his eye. It was set apart from the others, in a little frame, and said: Johnny read and re-read the advertisement. The Secret of Instant Height. It was just what he needed. But where would he find two shillings and sixpence? He didn’t even have enough money for the stamped addressed
trouble, Olwen. We have to help her. There’s a man called Dr Howell. He’s the real murderer, and he’s holding her prisoner.’ ‘Dr Howell?’ Olwen was shocked. ‘But he’s really kind. He didn’t make a fuss at all when the nurse told him I’d taken his coat. I think she was really disappointed. She says she’s going to report me to Professor Campbell instead.’ ‘Who?’ ‘Professor Campbell. He’s in charge of the whole hospital. The nurse said she’ll recommend a very severe punishment.’ ‘I’m sorry about
packets of money. ‘There you are. Not a bad piece of work, eh? The whole batch gone. You were right, Marie. We can hook in customers every way. We can play on them as rebels who want something illegal; or as social climbers after something no one else has got; or as anxious parents worried that their babies might get sick. I tell you, by the time I’ve finished with them, they’re scared not to buy it. I could do with those leaflets you promised me, though. I need to make the medical details more
than usual as she took a single typed sheet out of the envelope. Then she flopped down onto a chair. ‘What is it, Mum?’ asked Johnny, still grasping the letter in his pocket. ‘Is it bad news?’ He could see that she was trying to compose herself, to reassure him that there was nothing to be concerned about. Then she looked him straight in the eye. ‘Johnny,’ she said, ‘I think you’re old enough to know. It’s from the landlord. The rent’s going up after Christmas. We’re going to have to find an