Authors: Zack Norris
Tags: #ebook, #book
For Philip and Dashiell
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Sterling eBook ISBN: 978-1-4027-9805-4
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
The monkey howled at midnight / by Zack Norris.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â p. cm. â (Double detectives)
Summary: When twins Otis and Cody Carson, their father Hayden, cousin Rae Lee, and family friend Maxim go to the Amazon jungle of Brazil, they uncover a smuggling ring trafficking in endangered animals.
[1. SmugglingâFiction. 2. Endangered speciesâFiction. 3. Rain forest animalsâFiction. 4. TwinsâFiction. 5. BrothersâFiction. 6. Amazon River RegionâFiction. 7. Mystery and detective stories.] I. Title.
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Table of Contents
he man known as “The Chameleon” smiled to himself. The nickname suited him perfectly. His moods changed as fast as a chameleon changes colors. He could go from friendly to nasty in seconds. He had a cold, cruel streak. That was why he was one of the most feared people in the business.
What was his business? Smuggling. He didn't care what was trafficked. Anything that could be marketed was fair game. He dealt in whatever was in demand. He was in business to make money.
The Chameleon had become the most wanted smuggler in the worldâand the most mysterious. Everyone was looking for him, and no one knew where to find him. He kept his identity hidden behind disguises and computer firewalls. His operation stretched over every continent.
The Chameleon liked to wear clothing made from exotic animals. Right now he was wearing shoes adorned with the heads of extinct golden toads. Beside him was a cane encircled with a preserved snake, and around his neck was a very live python. His feet rested on a rug made from the skin of a rare ocelot. His umbrellas rested in a stand made from an elephant foot.
His illegal business had made The Chameleon a rich man, but he wanted more. He was smiling to himself because he was going to get richer. His smile grew wider as he thought about all the money he would make.
He was expanding his operation into an entirely new area. It was high profit and low risk. When he got things up and running he could double his money. The only hitch was in getting everyone to cooperate. His smile vanished. Nobody had better cause any problems. He was not a man to be crossed.
he river looks like a giant snake twisting through a huge forest.” Otis squinted his brown eyes against the glare of the sun as he looked out the window of the airplane.
Niagara, o roar again
,” said his twin brother, Cody. He pushed a lock of his brown hair off his forehead. “That's not original, but I like it.”
Otis wrinkled his freckled nose and looked at his brother. “Is that the best you could come up with? It spells the same backward and forward, so it's a palindrome, and it's about water. But we're looking at the Amazon, not Niagara Falls. I mean, as a palindrome it kind of
short in quality. It's really
Cody groaned. “Ha haâlike those puns of yours are any better. Next time try a little harder.”
“Amphisbaena,” their cousin Rae Lee piped up from the row ahead. She pronounced it
. “It's a different kind of palindrome.”
“What?” Otis and Cody said together.
Their father, Hayden Carson, and their all-around friend and helper Maxim Chatterton echoed the word. The multitalented Maxim had started out as their father's agent and gradually became part of the family.
Rae sat up straighter and tossed her short black hair. “It's a mythical snake with a head at both ends of its body. I found it when I was looking through the dictionary and I memorized it for the trip. I figured Cody would have a palindrome about something and Otis would have a pun, so â¦”
“The word isn't a palindrome, but the snake is. Cool,” said Cody.
“Awesome,” said Otis. The twins each turned to the window. They were all quiet for a while.
Everyone in the group had been looking forward to the trip for weeksâespecially the three 12-year-olds. It was summer vacation and they couldn't wait to see the Amazon rain forest.
Enrico Estevez, a wealthy Brazilian coffee merchant, had invited them to stay at his home in Manaus, Brazil. It was a city in the heart of the Amazon.
Cousin Rae Lee had been asked along because she was so into everything about endangered animals. Months ago she had seen a program about them on television. She started doing research on the subject just about every day. Lots of endangered species lived in the Amazon rain forest.
“Did I tell you that toucans are endangered?” Rae asked out of the blue.
“Only about a gazillion times,” Cody replied. “Y'know, usually it's Otis who gets obsessed with a topic, but when it comes to endangered animals you're right there with him.”
“You were pretty obsessed with that haunted pirate story when we went to Calavera Island,” Otis retorted. “What you're really obsessed with, though, is
talking. Blah, blah, blah, blah
.” Otis chuckled.
“Cut it out, you two,” said Rae. “What's wrong with being interested in endangered animals, anyway?”
“Nothing,” Cody replied. “I've got to admit, you've got me hooked on the subject. I know lots of endangered animals live in the rain forestâbut I'm into finding out about
of the rain-forest animals. I know that even if you
see them all, there are so many that it would take months.”
“That's right,” Otis agreed. “There are about two thousand species of birds and mammals.”
Rae began rattling off a list of animals. “Brazilian tapir, jaguar, pink dolphin, scarlet macaw, hyacinth macaw, toucan, three-toed sloth, golden lion tamarin, harpy eagle, manateeâthey're all endangered rain-forest animals. There are more, too, but those are the ones I remember.”
“That's a lot,” said Otis. He swallowed. “Hey, my ears are popping. How long before we touch down?”
Maxim checked his watch. “Oh, should be about ten minutes now.”
Mr. Carson cleared his throat. “There will be a little extra surprise for you all,” he said. “I know you are going to ask me why I didn't tell you before, but you would have been pestering me every day. All I'm going to tell you is that you'll soon find out.”
“Oh, come on, tell us,” Cody asked eagerly.
“See what I mean?” said Mr. Carson with a mysterious smile. “You'd have been saying that every day for months. I'm not telling you. Not a chance.”