Mr. Whiskers is a paw-some new dog detective from an Edgar Award winning author. He's on the trail of a kidnapped dad, pirate treasure, and a place to call home...
Mr. Whiskers is a street-wise stray dog with a nose for trouble and a fondness for two girls he calls the Shenanigan Sisters. So when Misty and Zelda’s professor father is kidnapped, Mr. Whiskers follows that car, picking up vital clues.
Then the two intrepid girls and one great dog follow the trail through the streets of San Francisco, discovering hidden passageways, buried secrets, and even pirate treasure.
But will they be able to rescue Dad? You bet your best biscuit, they will!
Wendelin Van Draanen's new mystery is the ulti-mutt kid-pleasing caper.
An Excerpt fromMr. Whiskers and the Shenanigan Sisters
I smelled trouble. It came driftin’ in off a fella on the sidewalk outside and tickled up my schnoz clear down to my paws.
I’d picked up his scent through one of Merryweather Manor’s parlor windows. This house is big, old, and drafty, with lots of dark nooks, and furniture for me to hide behind.
And thanks to the ruff way I live?
I’ve gotten good at hiding.
But I was on the move now, and since the fella was almost out of view, I ditched the parlor, hurried past the library, and slipped into the front room to track him, lettin’ out a long, low “Grrrr.”
“What’s up?” Misty asked from a table near the fireplace, where she and her sister, Zelda, were playing a board game.
Misty’s my favorite human. And I knew she was talking to me, but I acted like I didn’t so I could keep trackin’ the fella from one window to the next.
He was dressed like a cop. Not the uniformed kind. The undercover kind. The kind that wears dark shades even if the morning fog’s still hanging heavy in the air, which it was. The kind that’s always on high alert.
The trrrouble was, he wasn’t moving like a cop. He was moving like a sneak thief--something I know more’n a little about, seein’ as how I’ve come foot to fang with quite a few of ’em around town.
Or rather, they’ve come foot to fang with me.
Not that anyone’s ever put a medal around my neck for helpin’ out--actually, quite the opposite. But has that stopped me from takin’ a bite out of crime?
“Grrrr,” I said again, ’cause underneath the fella’s undercover threads was definitely something fishy. Fishy in a way that’s got nothing to do with fins or scales or bulging eyeballs.
Misty was watchin’ me, and this time when she spoke, she made sure I knew who she was askin’. “What’s wrong, Mr. Whiskers?”
Her callin’ me that still makes my chest puff out a little. I like that she bothered to name me, and name me something besides Lousy Mutt or Mangy Mongrel or Scram Ya Scoundrel.
The truth is, Misty Nanigan’s the reason I nose my way into the Merryweather so much. This creaky old house has a rep with my street pack for being haunted by ghosts, so I used to steer clear. But since the Nanigans moved in and started slippin’ me treats, it’s been hard for me to stay away.
Make that impawsible!
I call Misty and Zelda the Shenanigans, because it fits. That’s not their fault. What d’ya expect two bored kids stuck in an old house in the middle of a hustle-bustle city to do?
That’s rrright--get in trouble.
Their mom’s not around, so I don’t have a name for her, but I call their dad the Henanigan ’cause I’m that kind of funny.
“Mr. Whiskers?” Misty asked again, and this time she stood up.
I gave her a quick pant and a wag of thanks. I like the way she pays attention. I like the way she sticks her nose in, wantin’ to know stuff.
“Where are you going?” Zelda asked when Misty started toward me.
The fishy fella was coming up the Merryweather walkway now, so I set my voice lower and louder. “Grrrr.”
“Someone’s here,” Misty said, kneeling beside me and stroking my head.
“So what?” Zelda said. “Someone’s always coming or going.”
“This one’s got a funny mustache,” Misty said.
See? That girl’s sharp as shattered glass. And she was right. Humans do peculiar things with their whiskers, but these were just wrrrong--a flat patch under his nose. And crooked t’boot. Pawthetic.
“What do you think, boy?” Misty asked. “A new boarder?”
The Merryweather is the only house on my rounds where the people living in it are called boarders. It’s also the only house where breakfast and dinner are served, so I don’t care what they’re called. If there’s scraps, I’m all for this bein’ a boardinghouse instead of a highfalutin historic hotel. People stay here longer, too, which comes in handy for lyin’ low. It’s hard work winnin’ over new people all the time.
“Aunties!” Zelda called. “Someone’s here!” She turned to her sister. “Now will you please get back here and finish the game?”
Misty shrugged. “That’s okay. I give up.”
“What? No!” Zelda cried. Her glasses had slid down her nose, so she pushed them up with a pointer finger and said, “You can’t concede!”
Misty kept a sharp eye on the fishy fella as he mounted the steps. “I didn’t concede,” she muttered. “I just gave up.”
“It’s the same thing!”
The doorbell chimes went off then, which set me off. “Grrr-aarf! Grr-aarf! Grr-aarf-aarf-aarf!”
“Who let that mutt in again?” Auntie Jada asked, tossin’ Misty a stern look as she hurried toward the door.
Auntie Jada’s the business end of the stick around here, while Auntie Tiana’s more the first aid kit. The Aunties aren’t related to anyone in the house but each other, but they still want boarders to call them Auntie. “Let’s be family,” they say anytime someone new moves in. Once, I overheard the Aunties say that making boarders feel like family makes it harder for them to move out. I don’t think it’s working, though. Movin’ out still happens a lot.
Like I said, ghosts.
I wish the Aunties would treat me like family, but they don’t. I may be “housebroken,” but Jada says me bein’ inside “breaks house rules.”
Crummy rule, if you ask me.
Auntie Jada puts up with me some days because the Nanigans are long-term and she wants them to stay, but most days she gives me the boot. Not mean, like with the highfalutiners--she just uses a broom to scoot me out and tells me to run on home.
And c’mon. No collar? No tags? Can’t she tell I don’t have one?
Auntie Tiana does sometimes sneak me treats out the back door. “He’ll never leave if you do that,” Jada scolds her, but Tiana just gives me a wink, which she never notices I give back.
Tiana was nowhere to be seen right now, though, which was actually fine by me. This fishy fella needed to be handled by someone rrrough and tough, and if they weren’t gonna let me at him, Jada was the Auntie for the job.
Except that right now Jada wasn’t worried about the fishy fella at her front door.
She was worried about me.
“Girls,” Jada snapped. “Ms. LeTrist is in the library trying to work. I can’t have all this noise! Put Whiskey outside, and then either play down here quietly or go to your quarters!”
I don’t mind that Jada calls me Whiskey. I like Mr. Whiskers best, but Whiskey’s still a whole lot better’n Lousy Mutt or Mangy Mongrel or Scram Ya Scoundrel.
So Misty scooped me up like she was followin’ Jada’s orders. And since she was actin’ like she really was gonna toss me out back, I gave her my best puppy look.
“Don’t worry,” she whispered. “Just hush, okay?” Then she ducked into an alcove and crouched in the space between the wall and a big display case--a place my nose said had a history of upchuck and cat.
Zelda crammed in next to us but wasn’t happy about it. “Why do you always want to spy on people?” she grumbled.
“Why don’t you want to?” Misty asked back.
“Because it gets us in trouble! I’m eleven years old now. I can’t be spying on people.”
“Well, I’m ten,” Misty said, “and I can.”
Right then the front door opened and a strong whiff of fishy whooshed in.
“Grrr,” I said. I swear it was under my breath, but Misty gave me a little shake to remind me to be quiet.
I licked her face, tellin’ her I was sorry. The truth is, I’m still gettin’ the hang of spying. Of lyin’ low instead of charging. Of perkin’ an ear without making a peep.
Fishy’s voice drifted into the alcove. “Morning, ma’am. I’m looking for Professor Felix Nanigan.”
Misty scooted toward the edge of the wall, and we both peeked around at Fishy, who had worked his way inside. He was taller’n Jada by a head, but not nearly as wide. And it didn’t take a watchdog to notice he was sniffin’ the joint.
“And you are?” Jada asked, her eyes narrowing like she was smellin’ something fishy, too.
The man flashed a badge. “FBI.”
Misty and Zelda looked at each other. “The FBI?” Zelda mouthed. “Why?”
Misty’s eyes slowly rose into full moons. And I must have some husky in me, ’cause I had a furocious urge to howl! “Uh-oh,” she said.
“What?” Zelda whispered.
Misty shook her head. “Nothing.”
But I could see that she did know something.
And that whatever it was, wasn’t good.
“What do you know that I don’t?” Zelda asked.
“Shh!” Misty whispered, her eyes on Auntie Jada, who was pulling a phone from her pocket.
“I’ll text the professor,” Jada told Fishy, then jabbed around the phone with her thumbs.
The phone zwooped.
She stared at it.
I hate phones. I can never tell what’s goin’ on.
“He says he’ll be right down,” Jada told Fishy.
I like the Henanigan. He smells like tall grass mixed with elm bark, and he knows how to grow whiskers. His head and his whole face know how. The dog’s honest truth is, I’m a little jealous.
The Henanigan also slips me treats at dinner when I manage to sneak under the table without the Aunties noticing. Belle LeTrist isn’t nice like that. She only ever serves me a swipe of shoe. And the new fella, Brian Bunker, he’s a croaky old toad who doesn’t understand a friendly nudge or ever say much more’n “Pass the rolls.”
In any case, while we were waitin’ on the Henanigan to come downstairs, Zelda tried again. “Misty, why won’t you tell me?”
“Because you’ll make fun of me.”
“I will not!” Zelda said, sounding like she’d been swiped with a shoe.
Misty sighed. “It’s probably nothing.”
Two floors up I heard boards creak along the hallway.
“What’s probably nothing?” Zelda whispered.
“Shh!” Misty hissed. “You’ll get us caught.”
The stairs groaned and squeaked until the footsteps were only one floor up.
“Where is he?” Fishy demanded.
How could he not know?
Humans and their little ears.
Jada peered up the stairwell. “He’s coming,” she assured him.
And then there he was, with his hair stickin’ out every which way, lookin’ like a sheep that had lost his flock.
I must have some border collie in me, ’cause I had the sudden urge to run out and nip his heels.
“Hello, I’m Felix Nanigan,” the professor said. “Jada says you’re with the FBI? What’s this about?”
“You know what it’s about, Professor,” Fishy said. “I’m afraid I’m going to have to take you in.”
“Take me in? Why?”
“Do you really want me to say?” Fishy asked.
“Are you sure?” Fishy leaned back and smirked at us peeking around the wall. “In front of your kids?”
The Henanigan spotted us and froze. He looked like one of those statues in the park that pigeons perch on to poop.
“Don’t worry, girls,” he finally said. “I’m sure it’s a simple misunderstanding. Stay here with Auntie Jada, and I’ll be back in a jiff.” He turned to Fishy and said, “I’ll just grab a few things and--”
Fishy latched on to his arm. “Do you have your keys?”
Fishy pushed him along by the shoulder. “Then you’re coming, and you’re coming now.”
“What?” the professor said, struggling a little. “Why?”
Fishy was pawin’ through a pocket with his free hand. “Because you’re classified as a flight risk.”
“A flight risk?” the professor asked.
Quicker’n a snakebite, Fishy had the professor’s wrists clamped together with a plastic zip tie.
“What are you doing?” the professor barked. “I’m an archeology professor at the college! I’m a single dad! My girls are here! I’m not a flight risk!”
“I can vouch for all of that,” Jada said, movin’ quick to block the front door.
“What you can do, ma’am,” Fishy said, “is get out of my way.” Then he bumped her aside and muscled the Henanigan outside.
Misty scooped me up and ran for the door. “Daddy!” she called. “What’s going on?”
“I’ll call as soon as I can,” the professor shouted over his shoulder. “The Aunties are in charge. Mind them!”
I was a pretty big load for Misty, but she held on tight as we watched Fishy hustle the Henanigan out to a car that was double-parked on the street. There was a driver waiting behind the wheel.
“I thought the FBI used black SUVs,” Zelda said, her eyes pinching down. “So why’s he taking Dad over to a Prius?”
“And look!” Misty cried as she and Zelda moved toward the street. “It has Uber and Lyft stickers!”
“Girls! Go upstairs!” the Henanigan shouted from the curb. “Do things by the book, and remember to earn your way!” His voice sounded different now. Urgent. “It’s how doors will open for you!”
“What?” Zelda asked.
“Misty! Zelda!” Jada called from the porch. “You heard your daddy--come inside!”
“But that guy’s pushing Daddy into a Prius!”
“Girls!” Jada called.
“Help!” Misty screamed as the car rolled forward, and I answered the call. I squirmed out of her arms and tore down the sidewalk, chasin’ after the Henanigan. I ran for block after block, as fast as I could, jumpin’ and weavin’ and divin’ between legs like I was winning Westminster. I got honked at and yelled at and called some hair-raisin’ names, but I didn’t let it slow me down. I charged ahead so fast that even my tongue couldn’t keep up!
And I was gaining on the car, too, but after it turned into Golden Gate Park, something happened that tripped up my concentration.
A phone flew out the window.
It sailed through the air in front of me and landed with a swoosh in a bush.
My head went back and forth between the bush and the car.
Was it the Henanigan’s phone?
I must have some golden in me, ’cause I really, really, really wanted to retrieve that phone! But . . . hauling it along while I chased the car?
It would be too hard to breathe.
So instead of fetchin’ the phone, I marked the bush with a quick squirt and kept running.
The fly in the kibble was, that little stop ’n’ spray cost me. The car had pulled way ahead, and once it was out of the park, it zigged and zagged through streets faster’n a whippet, and I lost it.