THE HAUNTED SPY by Barbara Ninde Byfield


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Barbara Byfield's illustrations are marvelously dry parodies complete to their bloodless colors but the picture-book look is misleading: her ""spy who got tired of spying"" is very much a blase man of the world. Packing away his walkie-talkie, tape recorder, attache case and trench coat, he repairs an island castle preparing to enjoy the quiet life. Then dog Zero howls on approaching the ruin on a nearby island, a book opens by itself, the grandfather clock strikes thirteen, and nightly footsteps signal an intruder. The spy-who-wouldn't-be retrieves his gear and gets cracking, finally spotting a secret staircase... that leads to a wet, dark tunnel... that leads to the other island and into the ruin... where a figure rises from a stone coffin. He's Sir Roger de Rudisill, also a one-time secret agent-turned-recluse, who's been waiting for the ""right sort"" to come along and complete his castle. The addition of drawbridge and parapet and postern gate does little for the story and the conclusion's just a case of conviviality between colleagues. Younger children won't see all there is to it at the start, older children will wish there were more to it at the close.

Pub Date: Sept. 19th, 1969
Publisher: Doubleday