Here’s the setup for this short excerpt: somebody has been taking items from the school’s “Lost & Found,” but no worries, Jigsaw Jones and Mila are on the case. However, they can’t possibly keep a watchful eye on the crime scene all day long. So they pay a little visit to Jigsaw’s old pal, Reginald Pinkerton Armitage III, a dapper lad who dabbles in gadgets and gizmos.
Now I’m a writer who loves process, especially the particular alchemy performed by illustrators when they turn rough sketches into final art. Here’s R.W. Alley’s sketch of the scene in Reggie’s lab:
If you are getting a James Bond-visits-Q vibe, you are on the right track. I’m paying tribute to that character and those old movies that I liked as a kid.
From the book:
A while back, Reginald had started his own “secret agent” business. It didn’t work out so well. He thought being a detective would be fun, a chance to play with fancy gadgets and gizmos. But Reginald learned that solving mysteries could be a rough business. It took hard work and brainpower. Reggie was a nice kid, but he was as tough as a silk pillow. He promised I could borrow his gadgets anytime.
Today, I needed him to keep that promise.
Reginald pushed open a door, then said over his shoulder to Mila, “Please come into my research room.”
I’d been here once before. The room looked like a laboratory. Various objects had been placed on marble countertops. “This is all your spy equipment?” Mila asked.
She picked up an old boot.
It was a mistake I’d once made myself. “Be careful, Mila,” I warned.
Sploinnng! A suction cup attached to a spring popped out of the shoe.
“Whoa,” Mila said, jumping back in surprise.
“Suction-cup boots,” Reginald explained. “For walking on ceilings.”
“It really works?” Mila asked.
Reginald shrugged and admitted, “I’m afraid to find out.”
Mila picked up two plastic goldfish. “What are these?”
“Underwater walkie-talkies,” Reginald explained.
“Glub, glub,” I commented — for no reason at all.
“And this?” Mila pointed to a tray of cucumber sandwiches. “Let me guess. Is it some kind of secret listening device?”
“No, it’s a tray of cucumber sandwiches,” Reginald said. “For snack time.”
“Cucumber sandwiches, yum,” I groaned. It was the last thing in the world I’d want to eat. I was a peanut-butter-and-jelly kind of guy. “Sadly, Reggie, we don’t have time for snack. We’re here on business.”
And here’s how it all looks in the book across two pages . . . and yes, I’m blessed to have R.W. Alley illustrating these books.