Saturday 2 September 2023

Hugh McPearson Ten of Spades detective By Steve Way

During the past few weeks, I’ve been putting together a series of seven stories about an inept detective, who also happens to be an ostrich, called Hugh McPearson. So inept in fact that he’s described as a ‘Ten of Spades Detective’ as he certainly isn’t an Ace detective. (Although confusingly he has a brother, also called Hugh who is an Ave detective.)

The stories were written mainly for fun over a period of several years, although the first one eventually got modified to explore the maths of probability in an unconventional format by Hopscotch Educational Publishing.

Over that time, I sent copies of the stories to my mum and dad and to my delight, quite unasked for, dad created some wonderful – well I think they’re wonderful – illustrations of the first few stories. As the years went by the proportion of illustrations per story declined as dad became frailer but it was always a joy to receive them.

For ages now I’ve wanted to collate them into one volume, mainly to give dad’s illustrations a vehicle to be displayed all together. As the process has eaten into my blog writing time, I thought I would like to share a few of dad’s illustrations with you.

I do need to mention that although dad did countless drawings in an amateur capacity, several of his drawings were published professionally. Dad had been a teacher in Uganda (where my sisters and I were born) and with his colleague and friend Mary Hodges he wrote two history textbooks, which were used in schools all across Africa in their heyday. Dad’s illustrations were used for the first book – I know I’m biased – they are far more characterful than the illustrations in the second book, when the publishers (Nelson) called on the services of a ‘proper’ illustrator.

Talking of ‘proper’ illustrators, when I was working on a series of maths and science stories, I asked the publishers (Hopscotch) if we could use his drawings. In the first instance they refused, saying “we only use professional illustrators” and so the first few books were… shall we politely just say… illustrated. Needing to make clearer how I hoped my maths-based cowboy story Hank Bullman rides into Certain City should be illustrated, I sent the publishers the drawings dad had done. The publishers almost immediately got back to me asking if dad would be willing to illustrate the rest of the books! As admitted before, I am of course biased, but I strongly believe that dad’s illustrations brought those books to life, rather than them being merely… illustrated.

        It was wonderful that for a period of time we got to work together as a father and son team.

        So here we go… Just to let you know, Hugh believes himself to be a master of disguises…

Here he’s disguised as a lamppost (he is there just in case you can’t see him…)

Here he’s a coat hanger.*

On other occasions he blends into the background. Here he is in the back of a Range Rover with some mathematical goats… *

* Yes he really is there too…

He comes across some interesting characters, such as Bathplug who works in the sweet factory…

He also encounters his dad in surprising circumstances…

My personal favourite however has always been Hugh’s encounter with head gangster Mr Big… (Who happens to be a hedgehog.)


I hope you enjoyed the illustrations. The first story was published in the High Achievers Supplement of Using Stories to Teach Maths Age 9 – 11 (second edition) ISBN 9781909860001

I hope to self-publish (KDP) the collection soon as Hugh McPearson Ten of Spades Detective The Inconsequential Investigations Collection Volume One soon!


Update. The collection is now available! Kindle ASIN: BOCHBKJ475

Paperback ISBN: 979-8860393295 Hardback 979-8860663824



Susan Price said...

Your Dad's illustrations are great!

Steve Way said...

Thank you Susan! Hugh and his adventures are now published!

Sue Purkiss said...

I love the illustrations!