The Hidden World: The Remarkable Adventures of Tom Scatterhorn

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9780192720863: The Hidden World: The Remarkable Adventures of Tom Scatterhorn

The Spiderwick Chronicles meets Indiana Jones in this irresistible and adventurous tale of time travel, exotic globe-trotting, mysterious and secret worlds, and a diabolical villain — all amidst the intrepid Tom Scatterhorn's race against time to save his loved ones before it's too late.

Tom Scatterhorn is back at Scatterhorn Museum, and it is only moments before he is swept into another adventure! Pearl Smoot, a mysterious visitor to the museum, comes to Tom with news about his nemesis, Don Gervase Askary: that the villain has kidnapped Pearl's family members and possibly Tom's parents too. Suddenly, Tom's hopes for a fun holiday are dashed and he finds himself on a dangerous adventure that will take him to the heart of the beetles' kingdom in the future, and beyond. . . .

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About the Author:

HENRY CHANCELLOR is the author of the highly acclaimed Colditz: The Definitive History and James Bond: The Man and His World—The Official Companion to Ian Fleming's Creation. The Museum's Secret, the first volume of Tom Scatterhorn's adventures, has been longlisted for the 2010 CLIP award. His documentaries for television have been shown all over the world, including Escape From Colditz and 1983: The Brink of Apocalypse, which won the 2008 Grierson Award. He lives in England with his wife and children.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

CHAPTER 1
Listening for Fun
 
 
At six o’clock the last yellow flash of sunlight dipped behind the mountain and night came up fast. The banks of cloud, which had been building slowly along the horizon all afternoon, now advanced in from the ocean, turning from white and orange to purple and black. And the wind was rising, too. It was not going to be a pleasant night. ‘Too damn hot,’ muttered the heavy, grizzled man as he stood in the doorway of the shack and squinted up at the black tentacles of cloud, silhouetted against the purple sky. Arlo Smoot could almost smell the storm coming. Reluctantly he made his way up the steep jungle path to the base of a tree where a set of steps was lashed. Shoving the torch he was carrying into his back pocket, he laboriously climbed up to a long narrow hut perched precariously in the crook of a giant tree. This was his office. From here he could see out over the jungle to the dark sea and the islands in the distance, now bathed in the strange purple light. Lightning flashed in the distance. Yes, there would be a storm tonight all right: a big one. Leaning out of the open window, Arlo Smoot shook the long aerial attached to the hut—it was secure—then he glanced back to the top of the hill to where his weather balloons were tethered in a cage. He could just see one large orange helium balloon dancing on the end of its rope. Still there. Good. He had lost all of them in the last storm.
 
Flopping down into an old swivel chair, Arlo Smoot rubbed his unshaven face violently, trying to wake himself up. It was too hot to work, and he had no enthusiasm for the night’s task. Listening to hours and hours of radio reports, decoding the movement of aeroplanes, the patterns of ships out in the ocean, submarine communications . . . sometimes this job was very boring indeed. Idly he flipped on the banks of switches in front of him, and listened to the crackle of static as the radios warmed up. Maybe he could permit himself an hour or two of fun first. Yes, why not. After all, it beat working for a living. Wheeling himself across to the other side of the room, Smoot lifted aside some files on a shelf and, stretching his hand inside, pulled out a thick old textbook. He opened it precisely in the middle, to reveal a dog-eared red notebook hidden inside. ‘For Smoot’s Eyes Only’ was scrawled on the cover.
 
‘Yes sir-ree,’ Smoot murmured, brushing the dust away. ‘Known only to the Smootster.’
 
This little notebook contained all the strangest secrets Arlo Smoot had ever heard over the airwaves. They were shocking, bizarre, and downright unbelievable, and if Smoot ever found himself in serious trouble, he reckoned these little facts might just be worth a whole lot of money. His fingers brushed through the pages passing chapters headed American Presidents, Chinese experiments, alien landings, UFOs, parallel universes, time holes, until he reached the very end, and the page he was looking for.
 
 ‘Mr Zumsteen, my main man,’ murmured Smoot, staring at the mass of figures and dates. Why not go after the big cheese? After all this Zumsteen guy was turning out to be the missing piece in this whole jigsaw, and by now Smoot had become quite intrigued.
 
‘Let’s do it,’ he said, and paddled himself back to the radio. Checking the date in the notebook, he punched some numbers into the computer, and listened as waves of white noise hissed across the room. It was all working; good. Standing up, Smoot turned and stretched, and noticed the figures of two children in the window of the shack down below. They looked up at him and he waved, and the tall girl and the young boy waved back. Knowing they couldn’t hear him, he mimed putting on his headphones and pretending to be very bored, scribbling in the air. The girl shrugged her shoulders. Then he made a sign that the girl should put the boy to bed, and the small boy made a thumbs up in return. Then the girl blew him a kiss. Smoot blew one back.
 
Smoot smiled, then walked over to the door and closed it. They knew he was working now: there would be no disturbances. Perfect, as what he was about to do required intense concentration. Smoot sat down in the swivel chair and, putting on his headphones, began to work the machines with a practised hand. Arlo Smoot was a radio spy, and eavesdropping on other people’s secrets was his profession. Through a web of satellite connections he could access the most advanced listening stations in the world, and then direct the microphones to pick up any sound, made anywhere on earth. Though many universities had begged for his skills, the military organizations of some very large countries paid him better . . . so this is what he did: he found out military secrets—for a price, of course—and he undertook some private work too, if he felt like it. But this was not all: for Arlo Smoot had a secret, a very big secret indeed, that in his humble estimation, made him probably the best radio spy in the business . . .
 
 
Slowly Smoot began to scan the airwaves, both his hands on the dials, adjusting his frequencies, setting and resetting the coordinates of his microphones. The constant, hissing roar of white noise filled his headphones. Smoot knew that sometimes it could be like this for hours, days even; he must be patient. And Arlo Smoot could be very, very patient. What was he searching for? Not the bleeps and tweets of battleships and submarines talking to each other: it was something much more interesting than that. For Arlo Smoot was directing his microphones to find forgotten sounds, obscure sounds, conversations from the past, still resonating through the upper atmosphere, and the sounds of the future, too . . .
 
Tonight, for some reason, Smoot felt lucky. He did not know why: perhaps it was the approaching storm; sometimes adverse weather conditions actually helped him find things. Slowly his fingers moved the dials, back and forward, his ears attuned to the smallest fluctuations in the hiss. To anyone else, Arlo Smoot was listening to nothing, just a badly tuned radio, crackling and fizzing. But Smoot was concentrating intensely, and already he was somewhere else, flying through the black ocean of noise, shining his torch into the darkness, hunting for something very specific . . . again he changed frequency, and again. The numbers spun. And then he heard them: distant at first in his headphones, barely distinguishable from the hiss and static, but to his well-trained ear they were there, buried beneath. Voices . . . human voices. Smoot’s heart quickened a little, and he licked his lips. Even though he had done this thousands of times before, this moment was always like the first time. Voices coming in across the airwaves, ghosts from the past, the future, he couldn’t tell yet, but people, emerging out of the fizzing fog towards him, strangers about to tell him their secrets . . . Smoot worked quickly now, focusing his microphones, making a series of minute adjustments to sharpen the sound. The machines blinked and flickered before him, trying to keep up.
 
‘Smoot, you beaut,’ he muttered to himself, smiling as he carefully peeled away the layers and layers of hum and static, filtering and refiltering the sound. Could this be him?
 
A minute later Arlo Smoot had got a clear signal. Instantly he knew he was in a jungle somewhere, as the noise of the insects was deafening. There was a jabber of voices—in a language he did not understand—a huddle of men, squatting in the dust. A village on the edge of the jungle maybe, a few piglets running around, the splashing of puddles . . . the vivid sound picture appeared before his eyes. Then a nervous English voice. It was him! He knew that man. He knew that voice.
 
‘Smootie toot-toot,’ he purred, turning up the volume. ‘Did anyone tell you you’re a genius?’ This was exactly what he wanted.
 
‘Where did you say he found it?’
 
‘In a cave. Way, way down, masta. Very dark. He saw the belly shining.’
 
‘When was this?’
 
‘Oh—long time back. My grandfatha is old man now. He was just a boy then, like me.’
 
‘And it was definitely a beetle, you say?’
 
‘Oh yes, masta. Head, legs, big jaws like this. They all gone. Dust now. Just belly left, masta.’
 
‘The belly?’ said another voice. ‘Well, well. Curiouser and curiouser.’
 
‘And you painted it—I mean decorated it. These patterns . . . ’
 
‘Spirit patterns masta, yes. It’s an ancestor. You understand?’
 
‘I do. It’s very beautiful. How much do you want for it?’
 
‘You wan’ buy?’
 
‘Yes. I like it very much.’
 
‘Oh.’ The boy muttered something in another language. ‘Is rare. I never seen before, ever.’
 
‘Neither have I,’ said another, commanding voice. ‘Extraordinary, it feels rather like rubber, but it isn’t. Makes you want to squeeze it, somehow. What on earth is it made of, August?’
 
‘No idea. Some kind of fungus, perhaps. Definitely not man made. Not out here, at any rate. You buy it, Nicholas old bean. It’s not a forgery.’
 
‘Forgery? No forgery, masta. No no no. Is real ting. Beetle ancestor, masta.’
 
‘I’d believe him if I were you, old chap. Give the lad what he wants.’
 
The negotiations continued, Smoot noting them down word for word. For him the excitement was always in the chase, hunting down the voices, what they said was not always that interesting. But this object, whatever it was, sounded intriguing; and Smoot found himself doodling what it might look like in his notebook. Egg-shaped, covered in dark patterns, made of a kind of clear plastic material, which the boy claimed was actually a beetle’s abdomen. Could this be true? Smoot knew nothing about beetles but he thought it sounded pretty far-fetched. Eventually he stopped listening and made a note of the frequencies, then slid his chair across to a map, flicked open a page and made a calculation. Satisfied that he was correct, he drew three lines on the map in pencil with a ruler.
 
‘No wonder no one knows where you are . . . ’ he muttered to himself, as the lines intersected on a small cluster of islands out in the middle of the Pacific. They were so small he could barely see them. Smoot squinted hard at the map, then returned to his little red notebook, and recorded the following entry: ‘Nicholas Zumsteen, August Catcher, Sir Henry Scatterhorn, purchasing strange “beetle” object on the Tithona Archipelago, November 28th 1961.’
 
Smoot leant back and rubbed his eyes, feeling very pleased with himself. This was something indeed. The strange story that he had been piecing together over the last year had taken a new and important twist. It was like a movie without pictures that was happening out there over the airwaves. First there was some kind of an elixir of life, which a guy named August Catcher had invented and some kid named Tom Scatterhorn had stolen. Then this strange, crazy guy named Don Gervase Askary had gotten hold of it. Now Askary wanted to find this Nick Zumsteen guy, lord knows why, and he was searching heaven and earth to find him.
 
‘Betcha don’t know what I know, Askary,’ he smiled, absently flicking to another frequency and watching as the numbers settled onto a familiar wavelength that he happened to know came from the future. Through the static he heard familiar voices. Flicking several switches he brought the sounds nearer.
 
‘The elixir is, I believe, performing very well, your grace,’ announced a high nasal whine.
 
‘Good. Excellent. Now, what about Nicholas Zumsteen?’
 
The deep voice boomed around a large space that Smoot always imagined to be some kind of cathedral. There was an awkward silence.
 
‘Erm . . . he is . . . yet to be found, Don Gervase—I mean, your grace, but I guarantee we will find him. We just need more time . . . ’
 
‘More time,’ replied Don Gervase, with a trace of anger. ‘Does anyone even have the faintest clue where he is?’
 
There was no reply. Smoot imagined rows and rows of elderly men staring blankly at their master. He put up his hand.
 
‘Please sir, I do. But I’m not going to tell you . . . ’ he giggled.
 
‘Hmm. What about his friend, August Catcher?’
 
The silence deepened. A chair creaked.
 
‘Sir Henry Scatterhorn?’
 
‘Nada,’ Smoot cut in, out loud.
 
‘How very tedious you all are.’
 
‘There is . . . there is Tom Scatterhorn,’ suggested a thinner, weasely voice from somewhere near the back. ‘If your grace so desired, we could . . . err . . . quite easily—’
 
‘Please, spare me. Do you really think I need your advice regarding a twelve-year-old boy?’
 
The silence was deafening now. Arlo Smoot could almost feel the fear seeping through his headphones.
 
‘Does it not strike you as odd, that after many months, and much effort, none of you have discovered anything at all?’
 
There was a pause, and a couple of nervous coughs.
 
‘Or perhaps you are not telling me the truth. Perhaps you do know where Zumsteen is. Perhaps you are helping him.’
 
‘Your grace, we . . . we are doing our best. It just so happens that—’
 
‘Your best is not good enough? Are you aware of the gravity of the situation?’
 
‘Indeed,’ added Smoot, in mock seriousness. ‘How useless are you people?’
 
‘We really are trying—’
 
‘Are you? Really, are you? Lotus, would you mind?’
 
There was a sound of soft footsteps echoing on stone, and then the creak of a mighty door opening. Suddenly a ripple of anxious murmuring filled the hall. Smoot bent his head and listened closer. What was that which had just been brought in?
 
‘I don’t believe you have met one of these before?’
 
‘My lord,’ continued the pinched voice, clearly terrified now, ‘this is the Council Chamber, I really must insist—’
 
‘Lotus,’ barked Don Gervase, ‘unleash it.’ A sharp click of fingers echoed around the room. ‘You will be pleased to know, gentlemen, that they show no mercy and are always hungry. Goodbye; and good luck.’
 
There was a strange clattering, rushing sound, followed by a scream and a burst of static as the frequency was momentarily lost.
 
‘Whoops-a-daisy,’ murmured Smoot, impatiently scanning the airwaves for that booming voice once more. He had heard these scenes before, many times in fact, and he found them strangely compelling. Who were all these old guys that kept meeting their grisly ends, and what was that scratching thing that killed them? Arlo Smoot was so busy chasing the frequencies that he did not hear the dull thud of a car engine in the jungle far below. Then suddenly Don Gervase Askary was back on a quite different wavelength.
 
‘Is it this way?’
 
‘Indeed, my lord.’
 
‘What is his name?’
 
‘Arlo Smoot, my lord.’
 
‘What?’ said Smoot out loud. The voices seemed to be getting louder in his headphones. His fingers flew across the dials . . .
 

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Henry Chancellor
Published by Oxford University Press, United Kingdom (2010)
ISBN 10: 0192720864 ISBN 13: 9780192720863
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Book Description Oxford University Press, United Kingdom, 2010. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Tom is back at the Scatterhorn Museum, looking forward to spending some time there while his parents are away on one of their adventures. But an unexpected visitor called Pearl Smoot throws everything into disarray when she arrives with an incredible story. She says Tom s old enemy, Don Gervase Askary, has taken her father and brother - and what s more, she claims he has Tom s parents too. Together Tom and Pearl set out on a perilous journey to rescue their families - a journey that will take them in and out of time, to exotic foreign lands, and finally into the secret hidden world of Scarazand, stronghold of the terrifying Don Gervase himself .It s non-stop action in this breathtaking sequel to the first fantastic Tom Scatterhorn book, The Museum s Secret. Bookseller Inventory # AWC9780192720863

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Henry Chancellor
Published by Oxford University Press, United Kingdom (2010)
ISBN 10: 0192720864 ISBN 13: 9780192720863
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
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Book Description Oxford University Press, United Kingdom, 2010. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Tom is back at the Scatterhorn Museum, looking forward to spending some time there while his parents are away on one of their adventures. But an unexpected visitor called Pearl Smoot throws everything into disarray when she arrives with an incredible story. She says Tom s old enemy, Don Gervase Askary, has taken her father and brother - and what s more, she claims he has Tom s parents too. Together Tom and Pearl set out on a perilous journey to rescue their families - a journey that will take them in and out of time, to exotic foreign lands, and finally into the secret hidden world of Scarazand, stronghold of the terrifying Don Gervase himself .It s non-stop action in this breathtaking sequel to the first fantastic Tom Scatterhorn book, The Museum s Secret. Bookseller Inventory # AWC9780192720863

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Book Description OUP Oxford. Paperback. Book Condition: New. New copy - Usually dispatched within 2 working days. Bookseller Inventory # B9780192720863

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