The Hidden Valley Mystery
Boys' adventure novel
by Susan Ioannou
About the Book
Table of Contents
A Peek Inside
About the Book
When his friend Gunnar discovers a $100 bill in a hidden valley just north of Toronto's Don Valley Golf Course, Mike Steriou thinks his dream can come true: owning a genuine Explorer sleeping bag for the autumn Scout camp near Alliston, Ontario. However, a near-tragic accident for pal Tuan, unpleasant new neighbours across the street, two vicious dogs, a break-in at his uncle's Danforth printing shop, and other exciting events gradually piece the high-tech puzzle together, until Mike and his buddies daringly bring three criminals to justice.
Table of Contents
1. The Sleeping Bag
2. Gunnar's Secret
3. A Discovery
4. A Close Call
5. Time Out
6. The Van
7. New Neighbours
8. A Theory
11. A Prisoner
13. Find Tuan
14. Gunnar's Plan
15. The Chase
16. Dead Man's Cliff
17. The Mystery Solved
18. A Surprise
A Peek InsideCHAPTER 1 – The Sleeping Bag
Ever since he went to spring camp near Alliston with the Scouts, more than anything Mike wanted a genuine Explorer sleeping bag. Freddy had his own—and pro hockey skates, a 16 speed bike, and a championship skateboard. Freddy's father always bought him the best stuff.
"Well, here in the Steriou family it is different," Mike's mother snapped. Her curly black hair was already damp from the morning's warmth in the small, sunny kitchen. Atop the wooden chair, she wiped her moist, plump hands on the red apron covering her blue flowered dress. "Here, we work for what we want." She reached inside the yellow cupboard and drew out a stack of plates. Puffing, she leaned down and handed them to Mike. He braced the pile against his red tank top. In the heat, he was glad he wore shorts.
"Yeah, sure," grumbled Mike, tossing back a hank of dark hair. His green eyes glared up at her. "What work? You and Dad didn't let me share Tuan's paper route, or flip hamburgers at McDonalds."
Mrs. Steriou rose on tip toes. She strained for the top shelf. "Those jobs took too much time from your studies," she argued. "Besides, you are too young to be so much away from home."
Mike had heard these arguments plenty of times. His mom made him feel like a baby. She had been afraid of the spring camp. "Sleeping outside in the cold and wet!" she had cried. "No, no. You'll die of pneumonia."
Thank goodness his dad had stepped in. "Calm yourself, Effie," he soothed her. "Your brother Lazo will lend Mike an old sleeping bag and tarpaulin. The boy will be snug as a rabbit in its burrow." As Mrs. Steriou shook her head, Mike's dad strode across the kitchen and dialled Theo Lazo's number. "Camping will help make a man of Mike," he insisted, "like my own two years in the Greek army."
At the end of the spring camp weekend, as soon as Mike had thumped back in the door, his mother clamped a hand on his forehead. "No fever? No chills? Thank goodness." She hugged him and smiled. "You are still my Mike, not a sick rabbit."
After that, many times Mike overheard her on the telephone, bragging in Greek how her son had slept outside overnight, and the temperature hardly above zero! How could she still say he was too young to work?
"But I'm taller than you!" Mike protested. "Everybody says I look 14 at least!"
His mother handed him a serving platter. "Michael Steriou, now that summer vacation has started, there's plenty to do right here. Clean out the basement, rake the yard, mow the lawn—not to mention keeping your own room tidy. Your father is working long hours in the new restaurant, and I have five customers to sew dresses for. I need your help to run the house."
"Aw, Mom ..."
Mike's mother clambered down from the chair. With the hem of her red apron, she wiped the damp strands back from her forehead. Her green eyes softened. "If you work hard at home, and do good at school, maybe St. Nicholas will bring you that, that freezing bag, for Christmas."
"Christmas! But what about Scout camp this fall?"
"Well, maybe if your father's new restaurant is successful, and you help me lots in the house, St. Nick might come early." She reached up and squeezed his cheek.
That would be great, Mike thought. The next camp would be the end of September. He closed his eyes and dreamed of Freddy's uncle's farm. Freddy knew that 100 acres inside out. This year, when they played Capture The Flag, he and Freddy would outfox the other Scouts for sure. No way would Gunnar and Tuan sneak behind them this time, crawling up from the creek bed. Freddy could stand watch on the ridge. When his owl hoot signalled the coast was clear, Mike would dash from the cedars and angle across the slope to the woodpile. From the top he'd snatch the bright orange flag, before anyone could catch a breath. He'd figured it all out. With this new strategy, his team would win for sure.
And at night what fun it would be. Leaving the barn far behind, they would climb to the ridge. The moon was so big and bright, you could see even without a flashlight. And the stars! Mike never knew so many billion stars crammed the sky. That country sky was black as a marker, not the soot grey he saw in Toronto.
Later, after hot chocolate stirred on the propane stove, they'd snuggle into their sleeping bags. It was amazing, drifting to sleep in that huge silence. Now and then branches rustled, and beneath the moonlit bushes small shadows darted. A distant bird cried out. Once they even heard wolves howl.
"You are going to stare the flowers right off that platter," Mike's mother broke into his dream.
"Oh, sorry," Mike mumbled, and set it gently on top of the other plates on the counter.
"I will just fill the sugar bowl," his mother cheered him. "Then all my good china is ready for cousin Deeta's shower, and you can go to Gunnar's."
Mike helped his mother carry the stacks of dishes to the lace covered, dining room table. He was glad Gunnar had invited him to stay for supper and sleep over. When his mother gave a shower, the house overflowed with chattering aunts and cousins. They oohed and aahed as the gifts were opened. They giggled, taping the bows together to make a rainbow hat for the bride. If he stayed at home, the old ladies cried how tall he'd grown, and tried to pinch his cheeks. Fat Thea Mara always winked, did he have a girlfriend yet?
The telephone rang. Mike dashed back to the kitchen to answer.
"What's keeping you?" boomed Gunnar's voice.
"Packing my toothbrush," Mike replied.
"Hurry up. I've got something important."
"I can't tell you over the phone. Just bring your binoculars."
"Start counting to ten," Mike joked, and hung up. He dashed to his room, and stuffed binoculars and pyjamas into his rucksack.
"Mike, did you pack your toothbrush?" his mother reminded, as he rushed toward her down the hall.
Mike chuckled and patted his pocket.
"Mike, what about socks, and a jacket for later?"
"Ma! I'm not a baby!" Mike whirled past, and lunged for the door.
As he flew out, his mother blew him a kiss. "Be sure you're home before 3:00 tomorrow! We're invited to Theo Lazo's for supper."
"Bye, Mom!" Mike dashed out back to his bike. He couldn't wait to hear Gunnar's news.
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Copyright 2010 Susan Ioannou
Order InformationThe Hidden Valley Mystery, by Susan Ioannou
eBook (Wordwrights Canada, 2010), eISBN 978-0-920835-31-9.
Paperback (Wordwrights Canada, 2017), 113 pages, ISBN 978-0920835494.
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Updated September 2017