This is the answer to smelly feet - wear a clothes peg on your nose. 11-year-old Johnny Swanson is in business. He's raking in the money with his advertising scams and his agony aunt persona, Ada Ardour, who offers advice on absolutely anything in return for a shilling. But his money-making schemes are getting him in too deep. Everything is spiralling out of control, and now his own mother is in mortal danger. There's only one thing for it: Johnny must assume another role - as undercover detective.My thoughts: The title character, Johnny, hates being short so when he sees an advert in the newspaper that promises the secret to tallness he steals some money off his mum to send away for the secret. Unfortunately this is a con, but it gives Johnny an idea for his own money-making scheme to help pay back the money he stole and to help his mum pay the rent. He places his own adverts in the paper to trick people into sending him money. Some of his adverts were really clever and funny, and even though he was technically breaking the law I really wanted his plans to work.
Later on the focus of the book shifts as a murder is committed and Johnny's mum is the prime suspect. Johnny knows he must clear his mum's name, even if it means risking getting into trouble himself.
The book is set in 1929 and a lot of the story is centred around Tuberculosis and the treatment of the disease. This historical aspect made for interesting reading and I certainly learned some facts about TB that I didn't know before. But the book is so much more than just a historical story, it's a fun mystery story with a fantastic character who I couldn't help but love.
Publish date: April 2010
Publisher: David Fickling Books
Author website: http://www.eleanorupdale.co.uk/
Book source: Personal collection