Search for the Cats Eyes Quintet







Avenue de la Rose – Paris

Corinne tugged on the lapels of her mini leather jacket as the police car zoomed past with sirens blazing, creating a draft which caused her long, black hair to flick forwards. She she continued down the Paris street, watching where she planted her peach coloured patent high heeled pumps so as to not trip over the cobbles. A gang of builders gawped as she strode past, impressed by her slim fitting maroon denim trousers, long sleeved white and red striped top and purple pashmina. She ignored their obvious glances. She had a criminal to confront.

The nineteen year old art student, born and raised in Cannes, had arrived at her part time job at a jewellery store to find that it had been robbed during the night. Only one item had been stolen; a necklace containing five immaculate and massive emeralds, surrounded with tiny diamonds with the straps made out of pure gold. It was called ‘The Cats Eyes Quintet,’ worth over five million Euros with a deposit laid by a Qatari billionaire.
Corinne guessed that the police cars were on the way to the crime scene, but she knew they wouldn’t find anything due to the wiped CCTV footage and the lack of fingerprints. She and the other employees were all suspects as a result, so the police were unlikely to listen to her story; Even though she knew exactly who the thief was. If they were to be caught, it was up to her.

She arrived at limestone building numbered 37 and punched in the entrance code. She remembered it perfectly from when she’d attended a wild housewarming party here. Now, as she stomped her heels angrily against the marble steps spiralling to the third floor, she was coming for a much different purpose.

She reached the door to apartment 5b, and knocked on it violently. There was a pause, followed by panicked footsteps. Then was the sound of the latch being pulled, and the door half opened to reveal a handsome man with shoulder length dark hair and immaculately trimmed facial hair, dressed in a blue suit and white shirt. He looked flustered and surprised in equal measure when he saw Corinne frowning at him with her arms crossed.

“Bonjour Corinne, what can I do…?” he began before she interrupted him.

“Don’t bonjour me Jean-Claude! I know it was you who stole the necklace!” Corinne barked, pointing her finger at him in accusation.

Jean-Claude blinked, before giving a nervous laugh. “Stole the…come now Corinne what is this nonsense?”

“You may have taken in everyone else with your ‘I’ve travelled the world looking for the most beautiful gems!’ story, but you didn’t fool me!” explained Corinne with a look of disgust. “There are some quite incredible co-incidences on your resume. You were in New York on the night the Pharaohs Amethyst was stolen, and were working in Singapore when the Peacock Sapphire went missing. And now you just happen to be working at our store when the Cats Eyes Quintet is stolen?”

“I don’t know what you’re implying,” frowned Jean-Claude.

“Oh no, well maybe the police will understand me better than you!” Corinne threatened, before turning on her heel with the intention of storming out. But she only managed one step before Jean Claude clamped a sweet smelling rag over her mouth, hauling her into his apartment and slamming the door before she’d even had chance to squeak.

Some thirty minutes later Corinne awoke as the effects of the chloroform wore off. She wondered why she could taste her perfume. It took her a few seconds to realise that it was from her pashmina, which had been knotted and forced between her teeth, with the ends tied off underneath her long dark hair. As she pressed against the soft fabric with her tongue she realised it was keeping something else inside her mouth with the texture of a dishcloth.

It didn’t take her long to realise she’d been tied to a dining chair, ropes keeping her hands crossed over behind her back and wound about her torso and upper legs. Her ankles were also tied together just above the cuffs of her skinny trousers, fixed to the chairs crosspiece and for good measure a length of cord was wound underneath her shoe soles, ensuring her high heels remained on her feet.

Her vision returned in time to see Jean-Claude frantically packing into a carry bag. Corinne’s eyes widened when she saw, resting at the top, the sparkling, emerald encrusted necklace. She snarled angrily through her gag, and began writhing against her chairtie. This got Jean-Claude’s attention, and he paused his frantic packing as she growled muffled obscenities at him.

“Why did you have to be such a nosy little snoop?” he sighed as he zipped up his bag and slung it over his shoulder. “It’s such a shame that I have to dispose of one as beautiful as you Corinne, but I’m looking at life imprisonment if I get caught. I can’t allow that to happen.”

Wwwwtttt rrr yyyynnn tttllkkknnn…” Corinne began to demand, but she stopped as she sniffed the air. That pungent smell was unmistakeable. Gas!

She hollered furiously at Jean-Claude as he struck a match and lit a scented candle on his dining table. The scent of mountain pine it released did little to dispel the tang of a gas leak. He then waved at the raven haired snoop tied to his dining chair before leaving, said, “Au revoir Corinne my sweet,” and blew her a kiss.

The moment Jean-Claude slammed his apartment door Corinne began to struggle like crazy, rocking the chair to and fro and twisting bound wrists and ankles until they chafed. She simply had to get free, or alert someone to her plight. But as the minutes ticked by at a dangerously fast speed she made no headway.

Gasping for air, and with beads of sweat trickling down her brow, Corinne looked about for anything that might help her. Then she saw the dirty steak knife still on the tabletop. In his haste Jean-Claude hadn’t done his washing up. Seeing a chance for escape, she bounced and scraped her chair over, planting her high heels against the expensive rug while being careful not to tip over. With a twist of her arms and shoulders she eventually grasped the knife, and used it to saw at the ropes binding her wrists. She worked tirelessly, aware of the noxious gas beginning to overwhelm her, knowing she had precious little time left to escape.

Approximately nine minutes later, as he drove through the centre of Paris with his car window down, Jean-Claude head a resonating boom echo through the streets of the famous city. He smiled to himself, then turned the car in the direction of Charles Du Gaulle airport.

The Lapin Casino – Las Vegas

Located in the richest suburb of Las Vegas, away from the madness and bustle of the strip, is the 3.7 million dollar mansion to casino tycoon Hank Smith. But it was more than just his place of residence. Inside he operated a very private casino for his closest, and richest, clientele. There were high stakes games on every table; bets entering the hundreds of thousands were not uncommon. It was a private casino where the wealthiest of society could gamble and drink in privacy and security. But perhaps the biggest attraction was the staff. Particularly on Tuesdays, when it was bunny girl night

“Here’s your drink sir!” announced the bubbly waitress with long, beach blonde hair flowing past her shoulders, held back with a bunny ears headband. She was wearing a tight fitting bunny girl corset coloured a ruby red, complete with sheer black pantyhose and red high heeled pumps.

“Thanks a lot darlin’” hooted an overweight client with a thick Texan accent. “Never seen you before cutie!”

“I joined last week,” the waitress smiled with pearly white teeth. “My name is Sandi, with an ‘I’.”

“And you can call me Josi, without an ‘E’,” exclaimed another bunny girl as she skipped over with a platter of BBQ ribs. She was a tall Hispanic girl with tanned skin and even longer jet black hair. Her bunny outfit was identical to her friend except in colour, her corset and heels instead an emerald green.

“If you fella’s need anything else just give us a holler!” Sandi smiled at the blackjack players, before she and Josi turned around with great synchronicity, giving the clients a good view of their fluffy bunny tails. As they walked they glanced over at the roulette table, eyeing up a man in a black DJ with immaculate stubble and shoulder length dark hair.

“That’s definitely the guy right?” Josi whispered to her friend as they returned to the bar.

Sandi nodded at her. “I’m going on my break now, so I’ll check in the safe for it. Keep an eye on him.”

Josi nodded, but bit her lip nervously. “Just be careful!” she warned, before she grabbed a tray of cocktails and tottered to another table.

Sandi moved into the corridors behind the casino, waving at a squealing pair of bunny girls who were enthusiastically counting their tips. Sandi feigned interest, wanting to give the impression that she was simply a dim-witted blonde when actually she housed a keen, sleuthing brain. It was how she’d been able to take note of the security code for the state of the art vault containing the casino’s money.

She reached the massive steel vault door, typed in the code, then tugged on the circular handle until the door swung open. Her blonde hair was caught in the draft as air rushed inside, filling the vacuum created when the safe door was locked. The lights turned on automatically, revealing the marble floor and stainless steel walls and shelving which held millions upon millions of dollars. But she was not here to steal anything. Rather she was searching for something that was stolen.

Skipping from shelf to shelf on her heels she frantically searched not for money, but an object. Hank Smith offered his best paying clients a service whereby he kept their valuable possessions within his vault. Sandi kept up her search until she found the possession of one client in particular. It was a simple looking carry bag with a padlock around the straps. But it didn’t take Sandi long to pry the lock open with her hairclip. Her heart beating in anticipation, she unzipped the bag and when she saw something sparkling from within her eyes lit up.

“Looks like we’ve got you now!” she breathed as she held up the Cats Eyes Quintet against the light.

“On the contrary mademoiselle, looks like I’ve got you!”

Sandi whirled around and gasped. Behind her with a knife in his hand stood the dark haired man she had been investigating, his eyes filled with anger at the sight of her handling his necklace. But his free hand was gripped tightly on the upper arm of…

Josi!” Sandi exclaimed.

Ggggttt ttt ffff hhhrrrr sssssnnnndddd!” moaned Josi through the black electrical tape plastering her lips, struggling to free her hands from the same material welding them behind her back.

Staring at the investigative bunny girl Jean-Claude remarked, “Congratulations for uncovering me. You’ve done better than the FBI and police. But not good enough I’m afraid. Hands behind your back blondie!”

Seeing Josi in peril meant Sandi had little choice but to comply. She could only tut indignantly as her hands were taped up. Then Jean-Claude directed her down onto the vault floor, before plonking Josi down so they were back to back. Their captor then welded them together with numerous turns of tape around their waists, which stuck to the exposed skin of their upper arms.

“Hey, watch the nylons! Smith makes us pay for them ourselves!” growled Sandi as Jean-Claude pinned her ankles together and proceeded to wind tape around them.

“What a cheapskate!” Jean-Claude mused as he moved to tape her upper legs.

“Least he doesn’t tie up his employees!” Sandi barked as he then turned his attention on the nylon clad legs of Josi.

“If he found out you two are actually private investigators I doubt he’d be so lenient,” Jean-Claude mused as he finished encasing Josi’s ankles and knees. Then he pulled off a strip and stretching it towards Sandi’s red coloured lips he sneered, “And I doubt he’ll be finding that out anytime soon!”

“What’s that suppppssssdddd mmmmmgggg!” Sandi began before he slapped numerous strips of electrical tape over her mouth.

Jean-Claude took a moment to admire the sight of two bound and gagged bunny girls at his feet, watching their exposed shoulders arch as they strained against the tape, and seeing their fluffy bunny tails bash together as they jiggled from side to side. He then stuffed the Cats Eyes Quintet back into his bag and slung it over his shoulder. He shot the grunting pair a smirk as he said, “This is a truly modern vault, and has a very special feature. Every time the door is closed the air is pumped out. Money and paperwork keeps so much better in a vacuum you know.”

Sandi and Josi looked at each other over their shoulders, before chorusing loudly through their gags, “HHHHHHMMMM, SSSSMMMMMNNNNN HHHHLLLLPPP SSSSS!”

But no-one was around to hear them. They could only bounce up and down on the spot as Jean-Claude began to swing the safe door shut. “Don’t hold your breath for rescue ladies,” he taunted. “Instead, hold your breath to stay alive!” Then, with one last look at the pretty pair, he closed the safe door and locked it back in position.

Kanto region of Japan, 53 miles from Tokyo

Shizuko Sato angrily kicked the van walls with her bound legs, as much in frustration as in trying to get the attention of a prospective rescuer. But her hopes were beginning to fade; she’d been making a racket both with her kicks and through her cloth gag for minutes, and no-one had heard her.

She let her head slump against the metal floor, her long jet black hair sprawling like a rug underneath her. She jiggled again against the tightly fixed ropes binding her arms in a box shape behind her back, affixed to those constricting her upper arms and body like a harness. Her floral print dress with a wavy, knee length skirt and open grey cardigan offered little protection from the bite of the ropes. Neither did her black leggings offer relief from the cords about her knees and ankles. She took in deep breaths through her nose as she tried shifting the rag stuffed in her mouth with her tongue, but the gag was knotted firmly behind her head. She stared at her purple flats as she rested her feet against the wall while gathering strength for another kicking assault.

Shizuko was a twenty two year old intern at a Tokyo news organisation. So far her jobs had mostly revolved around getting coffees for the anchors and cameramen. But she craved the concept of becoming a famous investigative journalist, which was why in all her spare moments she scoured the internet for cases in which she could prove her capabilities. When she stumbled across strong rumours that the thief of the Cats Eyes Quintet was now living in Tokyo, she set her sights on bringing them to justice.

She spent days trawling the internet forums and news sites until she eventually struck gold. She entered a convenience store following lead when she encountered a man of European origin whose Japanese had a distinctive French accent to it. Intrigued, she followed him to his apartment, and waited patiently for him to leave again. Then she’d made her move, picking the lock to his apartment door and sneaking in for a snoop.

After ten minutes she found nothing, and was close to calling it a day, when her suspicions were confirmed. Though it was unfortunately by how she was grabbed from behind and had a chloroform soaked rag pressed over her mouth. When she awoke, she was bound, gagged and being transported to places unknown in the back of this van.

The vehicle had been stationary for a good long while now, and Shizuko had heard nothing from her captor or anyone else. She could only hear the breeze blowing through the trees outside. She could picture the cherry blossoms in her head, and sighed at the thought of her and her boyfriend huddled underneath their favourite tree. Being tied up and helpless was a far cry from that. And her situation was about to get worse.

The back door to the van was hurled open, and Shizuko blinked as sunlight flooded in. Then her vision was filled by the sight of her captor, a man with shoulder length dark hair dressed in jeans and a blue hooded top.

“Curse you snooping girls, never giving me a moments peace,” Jean-Claude cursed, as he leant in and picked up the wriggling form of his captive.

Kkkkkyyyynnn hhhhrrrmmm mmmmgg!” Shizuko cursed in Japanese and through her cloth gag as he slung her body over his shoulder. Through strands of her dark hair she could see she’d been taken to a deserted mountainside, on a dirt track underneath a cliff with the road flanked by flowering cherry trees. She thrashed and bucked against his grip, but could do nothing to stop him taking her further downwards.

In the direction of the railway tunnel in the mountainside.

Shizuko’s heart froze over when she realised Jean-Claude had been busy in his absence. He’d rigged together a makeshift winch made entirely out of rope, had slung the cord over a low branch overhanging the railway and tunnel entrance, and pegged the end into the ground. Yet she only figured out what he had planned for her after he dropped her into a standing position and fixed the dangling cord to the rope harness encircling her upper body. Then, with her unable to hop away, he grabbed the other end slung over the cherry tree branch and pulled. Shizuko squealed as she was lifted off the ground, the pressure on her shoulders as she was swung over the railway line in the tunnel mouth. There Jean-Claude fixed off the stray end to the peg in the ground, ensuring that his captive remained suspended above the ground, only able to rotate around in a circle and swing from side to side.

In between breathless pants the devious jewel thief said to his Japanese sleuth, “If there’s one thing I love about your country, it’s how reliable your public transport is. For example, I know that with almost near certainty the next bullet train will be passing through this tunnel in precisely eleven minutes twenty eight seconds time.”

“NNNNYYYNNNN TTTTYYYNNN SSSSTTTTRRR!” squealed Shizuko defiantly as she wriggled her arms and twisted her hips, trying to break loose from his makeshift deathtrap.

With a relieved wave Jean-Claude sneered, “Well you might get lucky my dear; it might be running a couple of minutes late instead. Sayonara sweetheart!”

As he walked back up the dirt track, abandoned the rotating and furiously squealing snoop to her fate, Jean-Claude thought to himself, ‘I really need to go somewhere as far away from civilization as possible this time!’


The Australian Outback – 247 miles northwest of Brisbane

Gemma Hodson glugged from her water bottle as her jeep bounced along the dusty, deserted road. All around was nothing but scrubland, red earth and a flat horizon. The sky was a deep blue, pierced by the roasting sun. It was going to be a hot one today; not as hot as it could get out in the Australian wilderness but hot enough to make life uncomfortable for anyone caught outside.

But twenty nine year old Gemma, a local wildlife ranger, had plenty of water, a full tank of petrol and a GPS locator in the pocket of her khaki shorts. She had a Stetson hat over her frizzy, shoulder length auburn hair, and was dressed practically with a khaki jacket over a maroon tanktop and strong hiking boots. Today she was out on patrol, checking to see if any Kangaroos had been hit by a passing motorist, or if any tourists had been foolish enough not to fill up on fuel and had got stranded in the wilderness.

It was a lonely task sometimes, but Gemma was in a good mood today. Only three nights ago her boyfriend had finally proposed, and today she sang along to all the cheesy songs on the radio which normally she never would. But she was not completely oblivious to the world around her, which was why she brought the car to a screeching halt upon seeing a column of white smoke rising from behind a patch of dusty scrub.

Dammit!” she cursed, bringing the car back into a low gear and powering forward. The smoke seemed to be emanating from the location of the old Koala Creek Ranch, but it had been abandoned for over a year. Which meant someone was squatting there; somebody who had no idea of the dangers of lighting a fire in the middle of the Australian wilderness. Bush fires were not an uncommon occurrence, and could cause devastation on a massive scale. It was her responsibility as a ranger to put it out.

She reached the turning in the road for the Koala Creek Ranch, the cracked tarmac being replaced by a track of ruby red dirt. She bounced along this route for five minutes until she arrived at a ramshackle hut, its walls a dull grey with paint peeling off the wood. Yet it was in better condition than when she’d come here last. The front door had been fixed, the holes in the wooden fence repaired and a washing line erected. But the greatest sign that the house was being occupied was the red pick-up truck parked beside the porch.

The smoke was billowing from behind the house, so Gemma jogged around until she came across a small bonfire burning in a dusty patch of bare earth. Not only was wood being burned, but papers and cardboard too. Her anger fuming almost as much as the burning material, Gemma swore to give the person responsible a piece of her mind. She didn’t have long to wait. The back door of the hut opened and out walked a man with shoulder length dark hair and an unshaven face, clutching a bundle of papers. He blinked in astonishment at the sight of the brazen Australian ranger as she strode purposefully over.

“What the hell are you doing?” Gemma roared at him. “Don’t you have any idea how dangerous it is to light fires out here?”

The man shuffled on the spot in surprise and mumbled with what sounded like a French accent, “I’m sorry, I was just burning some papers. I’ll put it out.”

“You’d bloody well better!” Gemma snapped, waggling her finger at him. “Who are you anyway? How long have you been living out here?”

I’ll explain everything once I’ve put out the fire,” the stranger replied.

“Yeah, well save it for when you’re at the police station. It’s them you need to explain yourself to,” Gemma barked. She then turned on the spot and stomped in the direction of her jeep, the idea being to get her water bottles to put out the flames. But this was a mistake. She’d only taken ten steps when she was whacked over the head with a thick piece of wood. Stunned, her legs gave way and she fell to the floor, sending up a cloud of dust as she slipped into unconsciousness.

She awoke twenty minutes later, her eyes dazzled by the brightness of the sun directly above her head. She moaned in discomfort, and only then felt the strip of cloth pulled between her teeth keeping a rag stuffed in her mouth. She tried moving her hands to remove it, but was foiled by ropes binding her hands palm to palm behind her back. Her arms were wrapped around a post, held in place by more cord wound about her upper body, and more ropes bit into her exposed skin around her knees and ankles as they too were welded together.

As she regained her senses she started struggling furiously, her wavy auburn tresses shaking with her head as she tried loosening her gag and her bonds. The heat from the sun was incredible, and she shifted her legs and body trying to find some shade from the fence she had been tied against.

She heard the sound of a car door being slammed, and from around the shack walked the man, a carry bag slung over his shoulder and a Stetson in his free hand. Gemma grunted in anger when she realised it was her hat. He crouched beside her, looking extremely frustrated.

“What is it with you girl snoops? You just had to come over now didn’t you?” he sighed as Gemma stared at him defiantly. “I’ve been living here undisturbed for months. But I’ve had enough of the heat, of the isolation, and I was just about to move somewhere more civilised when you decided to turn up!”

Wwwhhhttt nnnnn sssssmmmmmm!” Gemma growled through her gag with a complete lack of sympathy.

Reaffixing his bag Jean-Claude told his latest prisoner, “I’m afraid I can’t allow you to blab that I was here, at least, not until I’ve caught my flight to Europe. You don’t mind staying put out here until then do you sweetpea?”


Thought not,” Jean-Claude sneered. He then plonked her hat back onto her head, taunting her by adding, “You’ll probably need this. Enjoy the glorious weather.”

GGGGTTTT BBBBKKKKK HHHHRRRR!” Gemma roared after him as the French jewel thief sauntered back to his pick-up truck. But he didn’t even wave as he disappeared round the corner. Then Gemma heard the sound of his vehicle sputtering into life, abandoning her to the Australian Bush.

Gemma twisted her shoulders against the wooden post and stamped her hiking boots against the red earth. She quickly realised she wasn’t getting out of this intricate rope work without help. The sun was now almost unbearably hot and sweat trickled down her face. She had only one hope if she was to avoid being burnt to a crisp. Stretching against her bonds as much as she could, she tried reaching into the pocket of her khaki shorts with her bound hands.  

Carrington – England

“OK, I have just about had it!” Jean-Claude exclaimed as he wound rope about the booted ankles of his latest victim. “You girl detectives have followed me around the world for long enough. Once I have dealt with you meddling partner I’ll go somewhere you can never find me!”

“WWWWWRRRR NNNNNTTT PPPRRRTTTTNNNNRRRSSS!” roared the two eighteen year old girl snoops in unison, staring at him angrily as he finished securing them.

Jean-Claude took a moment to examine his handiwork. He marvelled at the struggling pair, writhing about on their stools with ropes ensnaring them back to back. Their hands were tied behind them and extra rope wound around their knees and ankles. He even gave a relieved chuckle while they grunted through the thin strips of white cloth gagging them, with the handkerchiefs he’d stuffed into their mouths peeping through.

He’d caught the freckle faced blonde first, encountering this girl dressed in a dark top, light blue trousers and black suede ankle boots rummaging through his possessions in the old, decrepit watermill he’d been hiding out in, just five miles north of the small English town of Carrington. He’d swiftly grabbed her from behind, gagged her and bound her hands, before hauling her thrashing body towards a large antique wardrobe, which he’d intended to lock her inside. But as he opened the door he and his new prisoner recoiled in surprise at the sight of another girl snoop hiding within. This girl had shoulder length brown hair and was dressed in blue jeans tucked into leather knee high boots and a bright red hoodie. He guessed from the reactions of both girls that they knew each other. But he didn’t dwell on this, instead hauling the red hoodie girl out of her hiding place and proceeding to make sure her and the freckly blonde couldn’t raise the alarm.

Satisfied his new prisoners were secure, Jean-Claude exclaimed, “Well now that you’re comfortable I’d best gather my possessions. Once that’s done I’ll be sure to arrange a suitably dramatic peril for you both to face.”

Jean-Claude had intended to leave it at that, but even as he turned to walk away the brown haired girl shook the gag out of her mouth and barked at him, “So what are you going to do? Douse the watermill in petrol and leave us both tied up inside? Dangle us over the river until the candle burns through the rope and we drop down?”

With a shake of her head the blonde girl also slipped her gag down her jaw and said, “Oh he can be so much more cliché than that Philips. We’re in a watermill after all. I’ll be that he’ll tie us to the water wheel and spin us around until we drown.”

“All valid suggestions ladies,” Jean-Claude growled. “I wouldn’t be so keen to give me ideas. You have no idea what I’m capable of, and who I am!”

“Well we know your name is Jean-Claude van Poisson, a wanted jewel thief who has been on the run since he stole the Cats Eyes Quintet from a Paris jewel store seven months ago,” explained the brown haired girl.

“You’ve become something of a legend in the girl detective online communities,” the blonde haired girl told him. “There are thousands of girl detectives across the world working together to track you down. When they realised you were hiding on the outskirts of Carrington, which by the way is the last place in the universe you want to live if you don’t want girl snoops knocking on your door, I took it upon myself to bring you in.”

“I think you’ll find I got here first,” snapped the brown haired girl over her shoulder.

The blonde haired girl retorted with a snap, “Oh yes, by hiding in the wardrobe. How professional of you Philips.”
Jean-Claude was taken aback by this revelation. Maybe this was why he’d been unable to find a moment’s peace no matter where he jetted off to. But he composed himself as he interrupted the bickering of his two captives by saying, “OK you got me ladies. So I suppose you know what has happened to each of the other girl detectives to have encountered me.”

“Oh yeah. They all managed to get away!” said the brown haired girl.

This time, Jean-Claude was unable to hide his surprise. “What are you blabbering about? Of course they didn’t manage to escape. Each and every one of them has met a sticky, perilous end!”

Both girls looked over their shoulders at each other in confusion, before the blonde haired girl said bluntly, “Er, no they didn’t. Corinne Debussy, the girl you left tied to a chair in your old apartment with a gas leak, managed to cut her way free using a steak knife, and then evacuated the building before the whole upper floor exploded. Nobody was even scratched.”

“Then there were those two PI’s from Las Vegas, Sandi with an ‘I’ and Josi without an ‘E’,” continued the brown haired girl. “You left them locked in the vault with a limited air supply, but you forgot all about the high stakes blackjack game taking place in the main casino. About ten minutes after you left, a security guard opened the vault with three million dollars’ worth of winnings to deposit. They were exposed as PI’s of course, but apparently Hank Smith still lets them work at his casino part time.”

“No, this is some kind of mistake!” Jean-Claude murmured, shaking his head in disbelief.

“Oh, and don’t forget Shizuko Sato!” continued the blonde haired girl. “Bet you thought she’d never escape from ye olde train track peril? Well you stupidly dangled her from the oldest and weakest branch in the tree. After a few minutes of tugging she got the branch to splinter and break, sending her to the floor, and she rolled off the track just before the bullet train passed by.”

“And lastly, Gemma Hodson from down under!” said the brown haired girl. “You left her tied to a fence in the middle of the outback. But she enlisted the help of a friendly wombat, who bit through her ropes and freed her.”

“You have got to be joking!” howled Jean-Claude.

With a smirk she admitted, “Actually yeah that was a joke. She managed to activate the distress beacon on her GPS locator and her fiancé came to her rescue. Rule number one when dealing with a snoop, always empty her pockets.”

Jean-Claude was incandescent with fury. Had his attempts to cover his tracks the past months all failed miserably? Had he really been outsmarted at every turn by a bunch of meddlesome young women? His face flushed red and he emitted a low, frustrated growl. Then, staring at his latest pair of bound snoops, he vowed not to make the same mistake.

“Well merci for telling me all that,” he growled angrily at them, his French accent becoming more exaggerated due to his fury. “But bad news, because I swear now that if any more girl detectives intrude upon my life again, I will make sure to finish the job this time! Starting with you two!”

But instead of looking scared, both girls looked strangely smug. “And you’ve just broken rule number two of dealing with a snoop!” said the blonde haired girl.

“Which is what?” snapped Jean-Claude.

The brown haired girl shrugged within her ropes and answered simply, “Assuming she’s come without back-up.”

And before Jean-Claude could ask her what she meant, he was whacked over the head with a heavy, metallic object, at which he crumpled to the dusty floor unconscious.

Vicky stared at his inert form for a moment before muttering, “Wow, you properly knocked him for six Simpson.”

“Don’t sound that surprised, I can pack a wallop when I have to,” Rachel replied as she dropped the metal piping onto the ancient floorboards with a clang.

Sara smiled up at her best friend as she approached both her and Vicky, wriggling slightly in the expectation of release. “Least that guy won’t be terrorising any other girl detectives for a good long while,” she remarked. “Now how about you untie us so we can search for the Cats Eyes Quintet?”

“After you answer one simple question,” Rachel replied cryptically. Then from the pocket of her peach coloured trousers she withdrew a sparkling necklace embedded with five shining emeralds and encrusted with diamonds. Rachel held this expensive piece of jewellery to her neck, struck a pose, and then asked, “Reckon your dad would mind if I was to borrow this important piece of evidence for Sally’s house party next weekend?”







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