Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Mill Creek Irregulars #3 Pinkertons Ride Again and #4 Black Hawk Island

In the Mill Creek Irregulars #3, The Pinkertons Ride Again, Steve and Sim overhear some men talking about robbing the train just before it pulls into Sac Prairie.  The boys have no doubt about what the men's plans are, but every adult they tell refuses to believe them.  In fact, Grandfather Adams is convinced that Steve is writing a story, and he tells Steve to call it The Pinkertons Ride Again!  And perhaps he will, someday.

It should be noted that August Derleth published some of his work under the pseudonym, Stephen Grendon, so Steve is a semi-autobiographical character.

On page 63, Steve and Sim try to figure out why the men plan to rob the train.  Sim suggests that the bank's money is the only possible reason, but Steve has an idea of his own.
"Sure.  But what about something we don't know about?  Like maybe somebody's last will and testament is coming in on that train, and if it's stolen, then an earlier will stands up in court, and these fellows are hired to steal the will..."

Sim began to giggle.  "I can see what your ma means when she says you read too much of the wrong kind of stuff."
Yeah, like series books!

The plot of this book creeps along.  This book is not quite as good as the first two books, but I still very much enjoyed it.  The climax is hilarious.

In the Mill Creek Irregulars #4, The Ghost of Black Hawk Island, Steve convinces Sim to go camping on Black Hawk Island.  The boys camp in a tent near an old ruin, and at night, a ghostly Indian appears and then disappears.  Steve is certain that someone is trying to scare the boys away.  He believes that something valuable has been hidden on the island, so the boys investigate.

With this book, the premise for the series falls into a pattern that continues through the rest of the books.  It's like Derleth was feeling his way into a series with the first three books, and with this book, all elements come together perfectly.

Every book begins with Steve trying to convince Sim to go on a trip.  Sim is overcautious and never wants to commit.  Steve uses reverse psychology on Sim, and Sim always agrees to go, complaining all the way.  The boys get into trouble, as predicted by Sim, and often end up in jail, since the adults don't believe their side of the story.  Ending up in jail is a running gag through the series.

Page 56 has a fun exchange between Steve, Sim, and an Indian boy.
At the last minute he heard us and turned, and the moment he turned I knew why he was so dark-skinned.  He was an Indian boy, about our own age—one of those Winnebago from the camp on the other side of Upham woods.

"How!" I said.

He backed out and got to his feet.  He was slender—but not as skinny as Sim—and there wasn't a bit of abashment on his face for having been caught snooping around our tent.  Before he could say something, Sim began talking to him in sign language—a hangover from his Lone Scout days.

The Indian boy looked from me to Sim and back to me.  Then he began to laugh.

"Can't you talk?"  he asked Sim.  And to me he just repeated, " 'How!' " and laughed all the harder.
Those silly white boys!

This is an excellent book.

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