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Authors: Michele Torrey

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The Case of the Gasping Garbage

BOOK: The Case of the Gasping Garbage
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STERLING and the distinctive Sterling logo are registered
trademarks of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Torrey, Michele.

The case of the gasping garbage / Michele Torrey;
illustrated by Barbara Johansen Newman.

    p. cm.—(Doyle and Fossey, science detectives)

Summary: Fourth-graders Drake Doyle and Nell Fossey combine their detective and scientific investigation skills to solve a variety of cases, involving a noisy garbage can, endangered frogs, a stuck truck, and a mysterious love letter. Includes a section of scientific experiments and activities.

ISBN 978-1-4027-4960-5

[1. Science—Methodology—Fiction. 2. Mystery and detective stories.]

I. Newman, Barbara Johansen, ill. II. Title.

PZ7.T645725Cas 2009

[Fic]—dc22 2008047456

10   9   8   7   6   5   4   3   2


This book originally published in hardcover by Dutton Children’s Books in 2002

Published in 2009 by Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.
387 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10016
Text copyright © 2001, 2009 by Michele Torrey
Illustrations copyright © 2001, 2009 Barbara Johansen Newman

All rights reserved

Sterling ISBN 978-1-4027-4960-5

Sterling eBook ISBN: 978-1-4549-0395-6

For information about custom editions, special sales, premium and corporate purchases, please contact Sterling Special Sales Department at 800-805-5489 or [email protected]

To my brother, John,
for all the “tough toenails”
and “holy cows”

And to my nieces and nephew,
Melinda, Jennelyn, Adrienne, Eleanor,
and Ryan, mad scientists in the making
M. T.

To my husband, Phil,
my lifelong partner in crime
B. J. N.

ntroducing Doyle and Fossey.

Science Detectives. Known throughout the fifth grade for their relentless pursuit of answers. And not just any answers. The right answers.

On a damp, drizzly day, in an attic not too far away, Drake Doyle worked alone in his homemade laboratory. The laboratory was filled with the latest scientific equipment: a chalkboard, racks of test tubes, flasks and beakers, dozens of pencils, and a lab coat with his name on it.

Drake’s hair was quite wild (some would say it stuck straight up) and the color of toast. Cinnamon toast, that is. And perched on the end of his nose was a pair of round glasses, making him look very scientific indeed. Which, of course, he was.

On this damp, drizzly day, an experiment was under way. A very important experiment.

The solution in the test tube fizzed and popped.

Drake Doyle glanced at his watch, then scribbled the results in his lab notebook.

Fizzed and popped.
Right on time.
Not a second late.
Experiment a SUCCESS.

Drake slapped his notebook shut. (Serious scientists always slap their notebooks shut.) He shoved his pencil behind his ear just as the phone rang. “Doyle and Fossey,” he answered, speaking in his best scientific voice. Nell Fossey was Drake’s lab partner. They were in business together. Serious business. Their business card read:

“Hurry! Hurry! It’s a major emergency!” someone screamed on the other end of the phone. “There’s a monster in my garbage can!”

Drake pushed up his glasses with his finger. Obviously, this was an important phone call. Very important. And important phone calls were more important than important experiments. He set his test tubes aside. “Who is this?” he asked.

“Gabby Talberg,” she shrieked. “Hurry! Hurry!”

“Oh, hi, Gabby.” Gabby Talberg was in Drake’s fifth-grade class at school. She was a nice girl, even if she did talk too much. “Now, calm down and speak slowly. What seems to be the problem?”

“Speak-slowly?-Are-you-nuts?-I-said-there’s-a-huge-giant-bloodsucking-monster-in-my-garbage-can-and-it’s-growing-bigger-and-bigger-every -second-and-I’m-alone-in-the-house-and-it’s-going-to-gobble-me-up-and-I-don’t-want-to-be-someone’s-dinner!” Gabby gasped for breath.

Drake was excited. This could prove to be a great day for Doyle and Fossey, Science Detectives. They’d never had a monster assignment before. And, of course, it would be a great day for the small town of Mossy Lake. They’d publish their findings in the local newspaper.
Maybe they’d even lecture at Mossy Lake University!

But Drake couldn’t allow his excitement to overwhelm his good scientific sense. That was the first rule of science. And Drake was a stickler about rules of science. He cleared his throat and forced himself to speak calmly. “What makes you think there’s a monster?” he asked.

“All kinds of weird gasping noises are coming from my garbage can. Something’s inside. Hurry, Drake, you have to come over immediately and get rid of it. Because if you don’t, I’ll just have to call James Frisco.”

Great Scott! thought Drake, horrified. Not James Frisco! Frisco was in their fifth-grade class at school. Frisco was a competitor. Frisco was a scientist, but he was a bad scientist. A very bad scientist. A mad scientist, you might say.

Why was Frisco such a
mad scientist? Because if Frisco didn’t like a number, he erased it. Because if an experiment asked for pink, Frisco used blue. Because if an experiment called for two, Frisco used one. (Or three.) But, most especially, because if an experiment said, “Adult Supervision Required, OR ELSE!” Frisco did it anyway. Alone.

Drake knew that if Gabby hired Frisco, there was no telling what could happen. Knowing Frisco’s sloppy scientific techniques, Frisco might let the monster out of the can, and he and Gabby would never be seen again! Gobbled in the blink of an eye!

“Drake,” said Gabby, “Drake, are you there? I said you have to come over immediately and get rid of it or else I’ll call Frisco!”

“Check. I’ll be right there.”


Drake phoned Nell. She was the most fabulous partner an amateur scientist and detective genius could have. Whenever they had a serious case, Nell dropped everything and reported for duty.

“Doyle and Fossey,” she answered, picking up the phone on its first ring.

“Drake here. Meet me at Gabby’s house right away. Gabby’s garbage is gasping.”



Nell was already waiting on Gabby’s porch by the time Drake arrived. He wasn’t surprised, as she was the fastest runner in the fifth grade. With her coffee-colored hair pulled back in a no-nonsense ponytail, her scientist cap shoved atop her head, and her mouth set in a firm line, she looked ready to take on this most difficult case.

“Afternoon, Scientist Nell.”

“Afternoon, Detective Drake.” And so saying, Nell rapped sharply on the door.

Inside Gabby’s house, Gabby pointed to a dark corner of the garage. “There,” she whispered. “There’s the bloodsucking monster. Inside that garbage can. Hurry up and get rid of it before it eats us all.”

Suddenly, the garbage can gasped.

It trembled.

It burped and yurped.

It belched and yelched.

All in all, it was very scary indeed.

Drake and Nell immediately went to work. They pulled on surgical gloves.


Gabby edged toward the door. “You’re not going to take off the lid, are you?”

“If there’s a monster inside,” Drake replied, “removing the lid would be most foolish. Now, stand back, we’ll take it from here.”

They tapped the sides of the can. “Sounds hollow,” whispered Nell. She scribbled in her lab notebook and tapped again.

Drake sniffed the air. “Smells like fresh-baked bread,” he observed. “Hmm. That reminds me. Ms. Talberg, isn’t your dad a baker?”

“The best baker there is,” answered Gabby. “He won the blue ribbon last year at the county fair. Why?”

“Just wondering,” Drake muttered as he recorded his findings in his lab notebook.

Meanwhile, Nell peered at the garbage can with her magnifying glass. She checked its temperature. She drew diagrams and charts. She was a most efficient scientist.

Finally, Drake and Nell stood back and their surgical gloves.


“Well?” asked Gabby.

“Puzzling,” said Drake.

“Fascinating,” said Nell.

Drake pushed up his glasses. “Tell me, Ms. Talberg. Does your garbage can always sit here next to the furnace?”

Gabby shook her head. “My dad moved it a few days ago. Why?”

“It’s very warm next to the furnace, that’s all,” said Drake.

“Eighty-seven degrees, to be precise,” added Nell.

“Curious. Very curious,” mumbled Drake. He jotted a note to himself in his notebook.

“What are you going to do now?” asked Gabby.

“Nell and I will take the garbage can back to the lab for further analysis. Expect our report within twenty-four hours.”

BOOK: The Case of the Gasping Garbage
5.87Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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