Into the Lion’s Den
Watch out, Nancy Drew—Devlin Quick is smart, strong, and she will DEFINITELY close the case in this thrilling new mystery series for girls and boys from New York Times bestselling author Linda Fairstein
Someone has stolen a page from a rare book in the New York Public Library. At least, that’s what Devlin’s friend Liza thinks she’s seen, but she can’t be sure. Any other kid might not see a crime here, but Devlin Quick is courageous and confident, and she knows she has to bring this man to justice—even if it means breathlessly racing around the city to collect evidence. But who is this thief? And what could the page—an old map—possibly lead to? With her wits, persistence, and the help of New York City’s finest (and, okay, a little bit of help from her police commissioner mother, too), Dev and her friends piece the clues together to uncover a mystery that’s bigger than anyone expected—and more fun, too.
With all of the heart-pounding excitement that made her internationally bestselling Alexandra Cooper series a hit, Linda Fairstein paves the way for another unstoppable heroine . . . even if she is only twelve.
Excerpt from Into the Lion’s Den
“I’m trapped!” Liza said.
“What’s wrong?” I asked. “I’m worried about you. What’s taking you so long?”
“I’m stuck. And I can’t exactly talk in here.”
I held the phone closer to my ear. “What?”
“Tell me where you are, and I’ll meet you in five,” she whispered.
“I’m sitting on the lion,” I said. “And hurry up because it’s really hot outside.”
It was three o’clock in the afternoon on a Tuesday in late June. My mother had struck a deal with me at the end of the semester, when my seventh-grade classes finished. If I agreed to take three weeks of summer school courses—not because I needed the credits or anything, but mostly to keep me out of her hair—then I could go on vacation with my best friend’s family for three weeks in July.
So far my mother got the better part of the bargain. She usually did. There was a ton of homework that went with the program at the Ditchley School, and Katie’s family had changed their summer plans since I signed on to hang out with them. Instead of going to their cool beach house on the ocean in Montauk for the entire two months, Katie’s dad got it into his head that bone-dry Big Timber, Montana, was a smart place to buy a ranch just in time for the second half of our school break.
“Get off that lion’s back, young lady,” the security guard yelled at me from the top of the library steps.
“Okay, sir.” I waved at him and slid off the marble statue, jumping from its pedestal to the ground. “No harm, no foul.”
Patience and Fortitude, the two stately kings of the jungle, had guarded the entrance to the massive New York Public Library for more than a hundred years. They stood right on Fifth Avenue, in the center of Manhattan, watchdogs over all the action in midtown. I didn’t think my wiry frame would have ruffled their manes for the few minutes I had parked myself on top of one of them.
I was dying to call Katie, who had already stationed herself out at the beach until we headed west, to ask what her father, a hedge-fund honcho, suddenly found more appealing about rattlesnakes and mountain lions and black bears in the high desert than swimming and chilling and looking for cute surfers on the East End of Long Island.
“Dev!” Liza was shouting my name as she burst through the front door.
“Glad you unstuck yourself, Liza.”
For the moment, I was wrapped up with Liza de Lucena, an Argentinian student who’d gotten a scholarship to the Ditch for the summer and was staying with us as part of the program.
Liza was flying down the staircase like her hair was on fire.
“I was trapped in there,” she said. “You don’t get it, Dev. It was terrifying.”
“Rattlesnakes are terrifying, Liza. This is a library. Worst thing that can happen to you is a bad paper cut.”
“You think I’m kidding? It’s that man in the navy blue blazer,” she said, trying to catch her breath. “The one crossing the street right in front of the bus. I thought if he saw where I was hiding—well, I didn’t know what he would do to me.”
“Hiding from a librarian?” I asked. The light turned red as the tall man reached the opposite side of Fifth Avenue. “Look, Liza, they can be tough if you’re making noise, but—”
She started to run toward the curb. “You’ve got to chase him, Dev. You’ve got to take a picture of him with your phone.”
Just what I needed. A drama queen to enliven my summer studies.
“Why me? Is your phone out of juice?”
“Because he saw me, Dev. He knows I watched him take the paper.”
I caught up to her at the start of the crosswalk. “He couldn’t have taken anything. I told you no one can check things out of this place, Liza. It’s not a lending library. It’s only for research. It’s the most famous research library in the entire world.”
“Then he’s a thief, Dev. He stole something. You have to take his picture before he gets away.”
The word “thief” triggered a hot spot in my brain—there’s nothing I like better than a good mystery. I sprinted onto the pavement the second the traffic light switched to green, because Liza had a point. Her pink-and-orange T-shirt had the words new york plastered across the front. She might as well have been wearing a neon sign that said tourist. The chunky black braid and full set of braces made her a standout among the older bookworms in the reading room.
By the time I crossed the wide avenue, with Liza a few steps behind, the man had turned the corner onto Forty-Second Street.
I had no idea if Liza was right—that he had stolen some kind of paper from the library—but I loved the idea of chasing a possible thief, a person of interest, as my mother would say. I sort of have investigative instincts in my genes, I liked to think. Friends are always coming to me to solve problems, most of which don’t take more than simple powers of observation and deduction. A healthy dose of strong nerves is another useful asset, and I seem to have an endless supply of those.
“Excuse me,” I said, squeezing between shoppers and sightseers who were hogging the sidewalk, making it impossible for me to get to top speed.
The tall man had long legs and was walking briskly, near the curb to avoid the strolling pedestrians. As nimbly as I could move, I didn’t seem to be gaining on him.
I turned to make sure I hadn’t lost Liza, who was proving to be a drag on my pace. “He’s not carrying anything,” I said. “No briefcase, no bag, no paper.”
“I saw him cut a page out of a book, Dev. It must have been a rare book, too, because the librarian made him put on white gloves to look at it.”
“Cut it?” I kept one eye on the tall man, who was jaywalking in the direction of Grand Central, the huge train terminal that had way too many tracks leading out of town, and dozens of subway entrances that could take him to the far ends of the outer boroughs of the city.
“Yes. He dropped his little knife on the floor and that’s what caught my attention. That’s when he glared at me. What I saw him doing can’t be legal, can it?”
Now I shifted into high gear. The yellow caution light was about to switch to red, but I ran into the crosswalk and made it to the north side of Forty-Second Street, certain that a crime had been committed.
“Wait up, Dev!” I could hear Liza shouting from the farside of a city bus.
There was no point waiting for her. Maybe the meek will inherit the earth, but they’re not likely to get Manhattan in that deal. And they sure won’t catch any bad guys. I was pumped up by a new fact: She had seen a sharp blade dissecting the pages of a rare book. That sounded like a really serious crime—maybe even a felony.
The tall man turned into the corner doorway of the vast train terminal.
Could be my lucky day. The way into Grand Central at that point happened to be a really long ramp—not a single step in sight—that led from the sidewalk down a slope into the very middle of the main floor. It was straight downhill from here.
I had my cell phone in my left hand, punching up the camera icon as I skirted all the commuters and tourists who were clogging the corridors of the terminal.
I saw the solution to my problem directly in my path. Three boys, younger than me, were studying a subway map, each holding a skateboard under his arm as they argued over directions.
“I’ll give it back to you in five,” I said, pulling the board away from the shortest one. “Meet you at the information booth.”
I put the board on the ground and stepped on it with my left foot, pushing off in pursuit of my long-legged adversary.
The boys shouted after me and gave chase. Good thing it wasn’t rush hour or I might have run over some tired feet. As it was, I got yelled at by stragglers of all shapes and sizes as I weaved a path around and through them. I didn’t understand why they couldn’t see me coming and just step aside.
I was nipping at the tall man’s heels when he made a sudden turn to the left as he reached the bottom of the ramp.
I tried to bail from the board, but it bucked and tossed me onto the marble floor.
The kid whose board I had borrowed was almost on me. That was when he let out a loud cry: “Stop, thief!”
The tall man’s head snapped around while the three boys charged directly at me. I was flat on my back but I scrambled onto my knees, lifted my hand, and snapped a few photos of him.
A small crowd was gathering around me—instead of the real thief—as I got to my feet. The boy had retrieved his board and was running to catch up with his pals without waiting for my apology or explanation, so people walked away.
Liza was running down the ramp, well-meaning I’m sure, but too late to be useful. “Did you lose him?”
I shook my head as I saw the suspect passing through the wrought-iron gates at Track 113, just before the conductor slammed them shut.
“Open up, please, sir!” I called to him as he also walked toward the train.
“Too late, young lady. Where are you going?”
I stepped back to see the stops on the large schedule posted next to the gate, but the conductor just kept on walking.
“I’m—I’m . . . going to . . . ,” I said, skimming the names of the familiar Westchester County towns from top to bottom before settling on a destination farther north. “I’m going to Poughkeepsie.”
“End of the line, is it?” he said, turning to point to his right. “Track 102 in forty-five minutes. This train has already left the station.”