This starts as another Magnificent Brain enterprise, with Alvin trading up from an ordinary ant until he acquires a yard full of junk and the use of a shut-down gas station to store it in. But another sort of pulpy adventure emerges when Pim shows up, just a few steps ahead of a scar-faced murderer who has chased him from his native Bahaman island for the sake of some valuable items Pim doesn't even know he has. Alvin, though, figures out that the treasure is a postage stamp which Scar-face's last victim secreted in Pim's lucky shell; but before turning the menace over to the police, Alvin and his pals trap him on a racing treadmill in the swap shop and bombard him with blinding lights, ear-splitting music, gunky oil, chicken feathers, and itching powder. (""We wanted to teach him a lesson. . ."") As Hicks notes of the Daily Bugle reporter, ""Obviously it was the kind of story he liked--a tale of murder on a tropical island, the flight of a boy, and the final entrapment of a criminal by four kids."" Add a rousing sadistic climax--and don't overlook the contempt in the observation.