Aug 28, 2013

The Usborne Detective Guides

I was at my mom's house a couple of weeks back and found myself rummaging through our old bookshelves when I ran across three of my favorite books when I was a little kid. They've got words and pictures in them, and some even go in sequence, so they're comic-y enough for me to talk about here. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a detective. And not because of Batman or Dick Tracy, no. I can safely say I owe it all to...

The Usborne Detective Guides
by Duy

The Usborne Detective Guides were three books (I found out later that they were originally one book called The Usborne Detective's Handbook) that ostensibly were about teaching you to (shock) be a detective. All illustrated by Colin King, they involved recurring characters and a wide variety of villains, and showcased tips and strategies on how to tell when crooks are lying, when something is fake, what clues to spot, and... everything you need to be a detective, really.

Also, I wouldn't be surprised if these books got some overeager kids in trouble. But that's beside the point.

The first book, Fakes and Forgeries, written by Judy Hindley, was all about how to spot counterfeits.

Here's exactly what goes on inside a forgers' den.

Here's another little anecdote to show how forgers of paintings work. Reading it now, it feels like one of those fake Facebook stories, but it was eye-opening to an eight-year-old Cube.

The book also used one of my favorite comic book techniques, the cutaway. See, look, they're comics. I'm completely justified in putting this on the Cube.

Anne Civardi wrote the next book, Clues and Suspects.

This one's about being able to sift through clues to find your man. Among other things in this book, we learn how a detective sets up an office. We also learn that every crook ever looks suspicious to begin with and that the guy on the "Wanted" poster on your wall is probably spying on you through the window behind you. And also, that no detective should ever go without a trenchcoat.

If anyone making superhero or crime comics right now wants to use this rogues' gallery, I say they should go ahead and do it. Bones always tricks guard dogs by giving them bones. Brusher always cleans up the scene of the crime before leaving it. Stuffer eats everything. This is gold.

Oh, the book also shows you how to make an identi-book, which makes it easier to figure out your suspects.

It's also got the most prominent case of the recurring Usborne detectives. Trapper, the mustached one, is the expert, while Dodd is a little frightened. There's also Petal the dog and her handler, who doesn't have a name, because... well, I don't know. Moving on...

Remember, always wear your brown coats.

Remember what I said about every crook looking like a crook? See, they should always be balding, smoking, and wearing striped shirts.

Here's the cover to the final book, Catching Crooks, written by Angela Wilkes.

Crooks are stupid.

This one's actually full of games, including games you can play with friends, but here's a thing to see: ways to tell if your house has been broken into.

I'll leave you folks with a mystery from this last volume. The "Theft at the Manor" deals with a missing painting. Here's the map of the place. (Click to enlarge.)

And now here are the suspects. (Click to enlarge.)

Think it through, read all the statements, check out the map, and then think it through some more. When you think you've solved it, you can check with the correct solution below...


(down some more)

(keep going)

...right here.Click to enlarge.

So I'm sure these books are quaint and kinda silly, and I'm sure they were written with that in mind. But when I was 8, they were informative, entertaining, and eye-opening. So I wanna take this time to thank Usborne and Angela Wilkes, Anne Civardi, Judy Hindley, and Colin King for giving me these books, Detectives Dodd and Trapper, and many, many hours of entertainment.

1 comment:

Chris said...

Hey I really liked these books too!!
I'm actually trying to find them to buy them and seen this.
There is another 3 books too, disguise and make-up, Tracking and Trailing and Secret Messages
by Falcon Travis, Judy Hindley, Ruth Thomson, Christopher Rawson, Heather Amery, Anita Harper and Colin King. I see 2 books too you mention, Detective’s Handbook and Spy’s Guidebook.

I used to read these books over and over, I really enjoyed them and almost get a rush reading and looking at the pictures.
I guess they are kids books but I was reading them around 12-13-14, I'm 41 now, lol.
I also liked reading CB radio books.
I'd love to find these books and read them again.
I also seen a book by Judy Hindley..... Usborne Time Traveler.
I gotta check that out!!

Take care, thanks for the memories,


BC, Canada

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