It was a beautiful fall day just after Halloween – the kind of day
that was cold when you stood in the shade, but when you stood in the sun
it was too warm for a coat. The wind had a hint of more serious winter
weather to come, and the trees had blanketed the ground with their
Eva was in her front yard bundled up in a tan coat and striped scarf.
Her mother had insisted that she also put on a bright green knit cap to
protect her ears from the insistent cold breeze. The hat kept her
normally wild, strawberry blonde curls contained, with only a few
strands curling out around the edges near her face.
She’d finally finished piling the leaves into what she thought would
be a big enough mound to jump into. This had been no easy task since
the wind had worked equally hard at blowing them all away.
"Whew!" she huffed as her pretty blue eyes examined her work. "That
ought to last for at least two or three good jumps if I hurry!"
She walked away from the pile to put the rake down, and turned to
examine a nearby branch. Was the branch close enough for her to leap
into the leaves from there? She wondered when, quite suddenly, she felt
someone rush past her shoulder followed by a loud war cry of
Eva stood, her mouth open in amazement, watching all of her carefully
raked leaves scatter to the wind. Someone had just jumped into her
leaf pile. “Someone stole my first leaf jump!” she fumed,
clenching her hands at her sides. She didn’t even need to see the
head peeking out to know who that someone was.
“Robert!” she hollered, stomping one high-top tennis shoe and
shaking her fists in the air.
“Hey Eva,” he poked his tousled head up and grinned at her.
Robert’s short brown hair was usually messy so Eva didn’t think
anything of the twig that now stuck out from behind his ear. (He also
generally wore the same mischievous grin as he wore now.) What pushed
Eva’s temper over the edge, though, was the look of fun in his brown
“Oh! I oughta! Oh! I’m gonna….” Eva sputtered dropping her
fists and stomping toward Robert, still buried up to his chin in her
“It wasn’t my fault!” Robert laughed, scrambling around on all
fours. “I was in such a hurry to get here and tell you something
important that I couldn’t stop fast enough… I… I tripped into your
pile of leaves…”
“Gah!” Eva responded, yelling her own war cry and throwing her arms
up into the air, preparing to pounce on the leaf-jump thief (and perhaps
make him eat a leaf or two), when she heard her name being called from
across the yard.
“Eva! Oh, Eva! Wait! I have to talk to you! I have to tell you!”
Lauren yelled running across the yard toward them. She came to a
breathless, jerky stop beside Eva and began talking before she could
even catch her breath, “Eva… (pant) have you... (gulp)... checked
your Halloween candy… (three more panting breaths then a single finger
held up, asking them to give her a second.)… today?” There. She
finally got it out.
Lauren was Eva’s best friend, an adorable little blond who was a bit
on the plump side, and who didn’t usually run since it wasn’t
ladylike. This explained why her dash across the yard seemed to have
taken her breath away.
Eva waited a moment to respond while she gave Robert the evil eye, which
meant “I have not forgotten this,” and let her friend finish
catching her breath before she replied. “No, my mom puts my Halloween
candy in a cabinet in the kitchen. I only get four pieces a day.” In
Eva’s opinion, this was supremely unfair.
“Well, because it’s,” Lauren began, but Robert leapt up out of the
remaining leaves and yelled, “Yours is gone too?” His sudden
outburst caused Lauren to scream and spring straight into the air
flailing her arms and legs.
“Geeze! Robert! Were you hiding there the whole time?” Lauren
shouted, clutching her heart. “You practically scared the freckles
right off my nose!” She crossed her arms and glared at him for good
Eva and Robert both silently giggled and grinned at one another until
Eva remembered she was mad at Robert too, and joined Lauren in giving
him a good glare until he looked confused and shrugged at them both.
“Okay, okay,” Eva said, mentally reminding herself to get back at
Robert later for stealing her leaf jump. “What’s up with your
Halloween candy?” she asked, redirecting her friends to the more
important topic of candy.
“It’s gone!” they shouted in unison.
With another quick glare at Robert, Lauren continued, “This morning
after breakfast, I was going to count my stash again, but I discovered
my candy was gone, and in its place was a note that saaaiiid…,”
Lauren drug the word out as she dug in her pocket for a piece of paper
which she pulled out and read:
Dear Trick or Treater,
“Sorry I had to snag your stash
But I’m down on luck and I needed some ‘cash’
Better this doesn’t rot the teeth out of your head
Here’s some floss for you instead.”
P.S.…You will thank me later!
“Yes! I have exactly the same note!” Robert said, pulling it from
his pocket and holding it up along with a tube of dental floss.
“Well! I’ve called Suzann, Brandon and Jenna and they all have the
exact same note, and floss instead of their Halloween candy,” Lauren
“You actually called Brandon Miller?” Eva blushed. “What did he
say? What did he sound like? Did he ask about me?”
“Oh for cryin’ out loud, Eva!” Robert rolled his eyes. “Brandon
said he was missing his candy, of course. Geeze! Girls…” he
muttered while shoving his hands into his pockets.
The three of them stood for a moment silently looking back and forth at
one another. “Do you suppose all the children’s Halloween candy
everywhere was taken?” Eva whispered.
“Well,” suggested Lauren, “maybe we should just check to see if
yours is still there or if you have a note too. Let’s go ask your
With silent nods they all agreed and turned to dash up the slight hill
toward Eva’s house. Eva led the way through the mud room and into her
kitchen. There they found Mrs. O’Hare sitting at their old oak table
watching the local news station on their small kitchen computer.
“Mom!” Eva began, but Mrs. O’Hare held up a hand telling them to
stop and wait a moment.
“This just in!” the broadcaster announced in the way that
broadcasters spoke which told you that what was “just in” was very
important. “We are receiving reports from all across the town of
Willows Heights that children’s Halloween candy is missing. Thus far
88 concerned parents and their children have called the station to
report that they woke up this morning with their candy vanished and a
strange note with floss left in its place. The police have been
notified but an active investigation has not been launched since it
appears only candy has been taken. Could this be a prank by some strange
criminal? Or, and this reporter must ask, have parents found a creative
way to remove the Halloween candy temptation from their children and get
them to floss and brush instead? Details at eleven. This is Ted
Tenesky Temple reporting for station 103.”
“My, oh my,” Mrs. O’Hare whispered to herself, “Suspecting
parents when it sounds so much like something Diva would do…”
“Sorry, nothing dear. Did you need me?” she asked, smiling at them
with a twinkle in her eye.
“Did you hear what the news guy said? The candy is gone in our
town!” Robert crowed, pointing at the computer.
“You don’t think parents would do such a thing, do you?” Lauren
asked quietly with a peek under her lashes at Eva’s mother.
“Mom,” Eva interrupted her friends, “Can you get my Halloween
candy down? We want to investigate the crime that has been
committed!” Eva announced, patting her pockets in search of the Junior
Detective notebook she carried at all times. Robert and Lauren nodded
“Oh my, of course! What an excellent idea,” Mrs. O’Hare said
standing up and moving to the cupboard. There, she took down a very
empty-looking bag. “Oh…yes. I’m afraid, your candy is missing
too, dear.” Eva let out a squeak and rushed to her bag to find
exactly the same note Lauren and Robert were now handing to her mother.
“Aww, Mom! This is exactly why you should let me have more than a few
pieces a day! I only got eight pieces before this happened,” Eva
“Now dear,” her mother soothed her, rubbing her shoulder, “Don’t
worry. I’m sure with your great detective skills – and with the
help of your friends – you’ll find your missing candy in no time.”
Eva felt a bit better hearing her mother’s confidence in her and
puffed out her chest. After all, she had read all of the Nancy Drew and
Hardy Boy Detective novels and she did have her Junior Detective hand
Now the question was where to start?
Excerpted from "The Case of the Halloween Heist (Magical Mystery Series) (Volume 1)" by Brenda Elser. Copyright © 2012 by Brenda Elser. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.