‘Cinnamon Stevens – Crime Buster’
This is the first in a series featuring Cinnamon Stevens designed to fill the gap between spy/detective stories for young readers (like the Truly Tan and Britt Brady books) and darker YA crime.
Becki Shrieber disappears from a school camp on Phillip Island. A few days later her name is removed from the police Missing Person’s database. This should mean she’s been found. But has she? No one has seen Becki since she mysteriously vanished. If she is still out there – lost, kidnapped or hiding – what are the police covering up? And why?
Twelve-year old Cinnamon Stevens, who’d been Becki’s tent-buddy on camp, is very suspicious. Both Cinnamon’s father and older brother are members of the Victoria police. Cinnamon grabs this opportunity to prove she too has ‘detecting genes’. Despite experiencing the loneliness of Year 7 and the embarrassment of puberty, Cinnamon finds the missing girl but …oh, spoiler alert! You’ll have to wait to read it.
At 28,500 words, the book is Cinnamon’s record of the case, a jumble of handwritten and typed pages, photos, cartoons, maps and footnotes.
All police procedures were vetted by the Victoria Police Media and Corporate Communications Department.
Learn more about Cinnamon and her friends by reading Cinnamon’s Blog under the Books heading.
I have almost finished writing the second book about Cinnamon and her friends. It’s called Cinnamon Stevens – Ghost Light. What’s the connection between a haunted theatre and a smashed-up grave? Cinnamon is determined to find out. After all, there are no such things as ghosts, are there?
Here’s part of the first entry in Cinnamon’s Detective Diary for this new investigation.
WEDNESDAY MARCH 18
Meera and I were hanging out by the Year 7 locker bay before morning Home Room. Meera’s one of my two best friends.
‘So – are you looking forward to Sports Day?’
Meera made a noise like a hippopotamus pulling its foot out of mud. ‘Oh yes, this is me showing unconstrained enthusiasm for Sports Day!’ She peered down her long nose at me. ‘You are so clever, Cinnamon – at exactly the right time.’
‘Well, I didn’t – ,’ I began.
‘I know,’ grinned Meera, ‘The injury was suffered during our first investigation. Still, it means you can go and support Cosette at her audition instead of traipsing around a muddy field and getting speared by a rogue javelin.’ ‘So true,’ I agreed. (Cosette is my other best friend).The bell rang and we trudged off to Home Room. Well, Meera sprinted because she’s a Brainiac and actually enjoys being at school, and I limped because of my toe injury.
The double period after recess was Australian History. Not my fave subject. Mrs Davida, 7B’s History and Geography teacher, was a tough old bird who gave the impression she wasn’t terribly interested in Australian History either. She had been mildly enthusiastic about pre-European Aboriginal Australia; totally uninterested by Convicts and Bushrangers (tho I quite liked Ned Kelly); then for some reason she’d become absolutely fired up about the gold rush.
Her elderly eyes shone as she raved on about the days of Marvellous Melbourne. ‘The gold rush began in 1851 in Victoria and lasted almost 50 years. People came from all parts of the globe in the hope of making their fortune. In the 1850s Victoria contributed more than one third of the world’s gold output.’ And on and on. Et-fairly boring-cetera.
When it became obvious that the whole class had slipped into a non-listening coma, she blew her whistle. Other teachers might clap their hands or say something like ‘Class – class – listen up.’ Mrs D had a whistle and a 1000 kilowatt glare. If you hadn’t stopped talking after the whistle, you got the glare. Even Showy Daniels, the dumbest kid in 7B, had learnt to button it once he heard the whistle. Showy’s real name is Simon but he thinks he knows everything so his nickname is Showy for Show Off).
Meera has this crazy idea that Showy likes (as in LIKES) me, which is why he tries to get my attention by getting my name wrong. He calls me Nutmeg or Paprika instead of Cinnamon. I think he does it because he’s a pain. Anyway, my heart belongs TO ANOTHER!! A secret someone only Cossie and Meera know about.
Mrs Davida cleared her throat. ‘As you know, in exactly one week we will be taking a day trip to Sovereign Hill to give you a better understanding of the gold rush days.’
‘Oh Mrs D,’ whinged Alison Wu, the social star of 7B. ‘I’ve already been to Sovereign Hill. I went with my grandparents aeons ago.’ All the girls want to be Alison’s friend and all the boys want to flirt with her. She wears a lot of makeup – foundation and eyeliner – which somehow the teachers never notice. Once she started complaining everyone else chimed in.
‘I’ve been to Sovereign Hill millions of times!’
‘Yeah, so have I!’
‘Can’t we go somewhere else, Mrs D?’ giggled Emma Jackson. She’s a chronic giggler and a friend, though not a bestie.
‘There are lots of other gold mining places’, Meera spoke up. As she rarely says anything in class this was a bit of a surprise. Everyone went suddenly quiet, listening. ‘There’s Bendigo or Beechworth or Walhalla–’
‘Don’t you mean VALhalla,’ I corrected, guilty-glad that for once I knew something Meera didn’t. ‘VALhalla like in the Norse myths.’
‘No, the goldminers called it Walhalla for some reason. It’s in Gippsland about 150ks from here.’
Crap! Sometimes I wish she wasn’t so clever.
‘Ah yes, ‘Mrs D sounded thoughtful. She smiled at Meera. Meera was her favourite student. Well, she was probably every teacher’s fave student. ‘Walhalla was famous in the day. Bit of a ghost town now.’
‘Not really,’ said Meera growing enthusiastic. ‘I’ve been doing some research for our assignment–‘
At the back of the room two of Showy’s side-kicks began a quiet chant ‘Meera’s a geek, Meera’s a geek.’
Meera ignored the chant, as she always did. ‘Although the town has a population now of only about twenty, they are hoping to turn Walhalla into a tourist attraction. They’ve reopened an old gold mine we could visit. And there’s a famous cemetery and a Ghost Tour at night…’
Well, that settled it. The class reacted as if everyone’d woken up after a long sleep.
‘Cemetery? Ghost tour?’ shouted someone.
‘Ghost tour in a cemetery?’ yelled someone else.
Most of the boys, led by Showy, began thumping their desks. ‘We want to go to Wal-HALLA, Wal-HALLA, Wal-HALLA!’ I call his two friends Dumb and Dumber. Their real names are Jesse and Darren.
‘Sounds good to me!’ Alison Wu began clapping enthusiastically. Because she is such a social star, half the class picked up on the clapping.
Skreeee! Mrs Davida’s whistle cut through the pandemonium. ‘That’s quite enough! We couldn’t possibly change our arrangements at such short notice. You’ve all handed in Permission Slips for Ballarat—’
I put my hand up. ‘Mrs Davida, we are 7B. We don’t want to go to the same place as everyone else. We need to be extended!’
A brief word of explanation here. Mount Dandenong Secondary has an accelerated (clever) class at every level. They try not to make it obvious, so we were 7B not 7A like you’d expect. But we all knew the truth. Any class Meera was in had to be the clever class.
‘I vote Walhalla!’ roared Showy, ‘wherever it is! Good one, Paprika!’ (Once again getting my name wrong!)
Mrs Davida frowned uncertainly at our bright, hopeful faces. ‘Well, I’ll er… I hear what you are saying. I’ll see what I can do.’
And miracle of miracles – she did it! By the end of the day we learnt the good news. 7B was going to Walhalla, not Sovereign Hill. The even better news was, we were going to stay overnight because there was so much to see (i.e. the Ghost tour).
Note to self: Be careful what you wish for.
 Meera has a massively extensive vocab. (C.S. – that’s me, Cinnamon Stevens)
 See Cinnamon Stevens – Crime Buster. (C.S.)
The photo below is of a grave monument from the cemetery at Walhalla. It could be the one that is later broken open. Is someone trying to get into the grave for some reason? Or is SOMETHING trying to get out???