Cover image for The snake mistake mystery / Sylvia McNicoll.
The snake mistake mystery / Sylvia McNicoll.
Publication Information:
Toronto : Dundurn, 2018.

Physical Description:
221 pages ; 21 cm


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
MCN Paperback Junior Mystery Fiction
MCN Paperback Junior Mystery Fiction

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Noble Dog Walking takes care of pets, even if they slither.

When a ball python they're looking after disappears, Stephen Noble and Renée Kobai join forces with their favourite clients, Jack Russell Ping and greyhound Pong, to find that snake. The local animal shelter proves no help at all. The only thing they care about is their annual cat sale.

It's starting to look like the ball python may have been stolen, when Stephen and Renée get word that more homes have been broken into, all of them clients of Noble Dog Walking. The case turns desperate as one by one, their clients leave. After losing Ping and Pong as clients, too, Stephen and Renée pin their last hope on gathering all the suspects at the animal shelter, and a real Cat-astrophe ensues.

Author Notes

Sylvia McNicoll is the author of over thirty novels. Bringing up Beauty , her guide dog story, won the Silver Birch Award, launching her to international success. Crush.Candy.Corpse was shortlisted for the Red Maple and Arthur Ellis awards. Sylvia lives in Burlington, Ontario.



Day One, Mistake One The air feels too warm and heavy for October. Thedogs don't even want to walk this morning. It's likethey know something. "What's wrong with them, Stephen?" my friendRenée Kobai asks as she drags Ping out the door. He'sthe small Jack Russell the Bennetts adopted from thepound, and usually, he sproings out of the house. "Who cares. They're coming, anyway." The Bennetts pay Noble Dog Walking, my dad'sservice, to exercise the dogs for two hours mostweekdays. Renée and I work for Dad; we even wearuniforms with the Noble paw print logo. Usually,we take the dogs out for an hour before school andanother one after, but today is Saturday. First of athree-day weekend. PA day Monday, yay! Fourbonus walks this weekend, morning and afternoonSaturday and Sunday, which means bonus money. I pull Pong, the Bennetts' long-legged rescuegreyhound, out the door. He usually lopes, moreoften leading us all. But today Pong picks his waythrough the dry, brown grass, almost tippy-toe. Ping, the bouncy Jack Russell, digs in with all hisstrength, mini donkey-style, the whites of his blackeyes showing in slivers. "Move it, Ping. I mean it!" Renée's short, likePing, and his match in stubbornness. "Come on, boy," I call softly, feeling a little sorryfor him now. "You can't win against Renée." Finally, his paws stutter forward and he scampersto catch up to Pong. We all head for BrantHills Park. The sky looks bruised on one side but sunnyover the park. For a while, everything seems perfectlyquiet; not even a leaf twitches. Except forMr. Kowalski jogging beside the fence, all hunchedover as usual. Kids call him the hundred-year-oldjogger. Not me, though; Renée yelled at me whenI did. Mr. K coached Renée's brother, Attila, on hisart portfolio and application to Mohawk College.His own paintings are amazing. We have onehanging in our guest room. We walk along the path up toward the communitycentre. Maybe we can turn the dogs loose in thetennis court and let them chase a ball. But then suddenly, the wind blows. Mr. K's blackcap flies off, spins in the air, lands, and cartwheelsalong the ground. It's a Frisbee-sized hat, and thewords across it spin -- Pay the Artist, Pay the Artist,Pay the Artist -- into a white blur. Ping makes a break to chase it. I don't know if Renée lets the leashdrop on purpose or not. But I drop Pong's, too, andhe flies toward the cap as well. We run after them. Ping snatches up the cap just as Pong catches upto him. Pong opens his long snout and latches on,too. As his teeth sink into it, there's one frozen momentwhen I expect it to turn into a big snarl-fest.For sure, when I first started walking them, theywould have scrapped over the cap. But today astrange thing happens. Together they carry it backour way. Mr. Kowalski jogs toward us. "Storm's coming in," he says as the bruises closeover the sky and the bright part shrinks. The windbends the smaller trees backward till they look liketheir trunks will snap. Any rusty, leftover leaves getshaken to the ground and tossed around. The dogs don't seem to care about the weatheranymore. The cap in their mouths becomes theirpurpose in life, just like art is to Mr. K. The capcomes within grabbing distance now. "Give it!" Icommand. Pong lets go. My fingers reach and almosttouch the brim when Ping yanks it away. Hebows to me, inviting me to play. "Ping!" I snap my fingers. He freezes for an instanttill I reach again, then he dodges. "No, Ping. Give it." Ping shakes the cap like it's a rodent he wants to kill. I reach into my pocket for one of Dad's homemadeliver bites. Ping spits out the cap and sits at attention. Pongjoins him, one ear up. Dad's treats are magic. Dogs will do anything forthem. I give each dog a little brown square and grabthe leashes. Meanwhile, Renée snatches up the cap, her nosescrunching in disgust. "Ew. Dog drool." She handsthe cap back to Mr. Kowalski. "Thanks. It's an important hat. Have to remindpeople, all the time." Mr. K smiles at the wet cap,shakes it off, and jams it back on his head. He tapshis brim in a salute. "Better head for cover." Then hechugs off like a very slow train. Renée and I look up at the sky. It hasn't evenbeen half an hour yet, but the dark side rumblesand throws a yellow pitchfork of lightning at thelast tiny patch of brightness. A few giant raindrops plop onto my hands. "Let'sget out of this," I call to Renée as I begin to run. "Too late!" Renée shouts as the drops pattermore quickly. "Hurry." I keep motoring. The patter turns into asteady drum roll. Although we run hard back through the park,we can't escape the downpour and quickly go frommoist to soggy to soaked. The dogs turn straightinto swamp monsters. Another rumble from the sky ends with such aloud crack that Renée drops the leash to cover herears. Ping makes a break for it. Pong gallops afterhim, dragging me along. I drop my leash, too. The dogs head for the shortcut between the parkand the street. Where the path meets the street, thedogs know better than to cross the road. Smart --that keeps them safe. But it also means they turnleft and charge toward my house instead of theBennetts'. Renée catches up to me. A few people have decorated for Halloweenalready but the dogs dash past the bloated strawzombies and assorted tombstones, not even givingthem a leg lift. They get to my house wayahead of us. Renée and I are not champion marathonrunners. Lightning zigzags across the sky and anotherrumble ends with a crack. "We're not supposed to bring them in. Mom's allergies,remember?" I tell Renée. "I'm not going one step further," Renée answers.Her sparkly red glasses could use windshieldwipers. Her dark hair lies plastered to her scalp.Water drips from her nose. Her uniform clings wetto her, a shade darker than its usual pale khaki. Ping grumbles and shifts on his paws. Then hejumps up and does a scratch, scratch at the door,ending his grumble in a high-pitched yowl. I unlockit and push it open. Excerpted from The Snake Mistake Mystery: The Great Mistake Mysteries by Sylvia McNicoll All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.