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I read this somewhere in the late 1980s to the early 1990s as a library book in Ashland, KY. Most of my memories of the book are pretty fragmentary.

  • It was an English hardback, probably less than 100 pages.
  • It involved at least one Caucasian boy along with one or more friends who were solving mysteries they came upon (I think it was entirely things they just kind of happened upon).
  • One of the conceits of the book is that partway through the story, it would instruct you to go to a later page to continue the story, much like how many magazines did to keep all of the stories in the early pages.
  • I think there were at least four stories, but only one of them has actually stuck in my head. (Below information is for this one story)
  • The kids were investigating a ghost town for missing gold.
  • There was a scene with text along the lines of "And when he opened the closet, out fell the skeleton" with an appropriate illustration of the skeleton falling onto the boy .
    • I'm pretty sure it was a black-and-white illustration, fairly realistic proportions, looking like pen-and-ink drawing.
    • This was followed by the prompt for the later page, which began with "key", belying the former illustration.
  • I remember that the plot then had them encounter a sinister adult figure who was also looking for the gold.
  • One of the boys stuffed the key into his pocket, making his waistline sag noticeably.
  • There was a reveal that the black (seemingly iron) skeleton key was actually made out of gold painted black, accounting for the abnormal weight.

Unfortunately, that's just about all of the details I can recall... I'm pretty sure there were other stories, but it was that illustration (which I occasionally wondered if it was intentional or the result of the illustrator only being given that page to work off of) that has stuck in my head decades later.

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