Carson Street Detective Agency
AKA The Swede & Neil Series
by Keith Robertson

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Carson Street Detective Agency Paperback Cover Art

Keith Robertson was born on May 9, 1914 in Dows, Iowa. He joined the Navy in 1931, and served as a radioman on a destroyer. Later, he attended the United States Naval Academy, graduating with a B.S. degree. He attributed his initial decision to study at the Academy to a "fanatical aversion to washing dishes." He said, "When I discovered that midshipmen at the United States Naval Academy did not wash dishes but were gentlemen by act of Congress, I promptly applied for entrance." Robertson served in World War II as captain of a destroyer. He was awarded five battle stars. He retired from the service as a captain in the United States Naval Reserve.

Robertson published his first book, Ticktock and Jim, in 1948. His writing career spanned 40 years. As a member of the Rutgers University Council on Children's Literature, he was active in encouraging aspiring authors.

He was married to Elizabeth Woodburn Robertson, a rare-book dealer, and had four children. He died of cancer at his home in Hopewell, New Jersey on September 23, 1991, aged 77.

Robertson is best known for the five books of the Henry Reed series, beginning in 1958 with Henry Reed, Inc., which won the William Allen White Children's Book Award in 1961. Another Henry Reed book, Henry Reed's Baby-Sitting Service, also won this award, along with the Pacific Northwest Library Association Young Readers' Choice Award, in 1969. The Henry Reed series was illustrated by Robert McCloskey.

Circa 1971 Tempo Books (a Grosset & Dunlap imprint) published Volume 4 in paperback (artist unknown).

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01: The Mystery of Burnt Hill - 1952
Rafaello Busoni (Illustrator) - Hardcover, 224 pages. Published by Viking Children's Books
Antiques and rare books come unexpectedly into the life of Neil Carson, just out of his first year of high school, and landed with an American History theme to write during the summer because of low grades in the subject. On a fishing trip in their New Jersey countryside, he and his friend Swede Larsen, come across an old lady Miss Clara Hankin of Burnt Hill whose ancestors and run-down house date back to revolutionary days. She offers them an old desk that belonged to her Uncle Rufus, a smuggler, and in the process of getting it refinished by an excellent but too crafty cabinet maker back in town, some rare books are found, stolen and recovered in a wild goose chase that results in the renovation of Miss Clara's estate and a good history theme for Neil. The most important book is a gift copy of Benjamin Franklin's from its author to his friend George Washington. The scholarly angle to rough and tumble boy adventures make this a treat.

02: Three Stuffed Owls - 1954
Jack Weaver (Illustrator) - Hardcover, 198 pages. Published by Viking Children's Books
No one but Keith Robertson could have brought together such an extraordinary team to stop a desperate diamond smuggler: one football-playing pig, two sixteen-year-old detectives, and three stuffed owls!
The team took quite a while to get organized. The whole thing started when Neil Lambert and Swede Larson - the Carson Street Detective Agency - turned their professional attention to a lost bicycle. To the boys who had solved the Mystery of Burnt Hill, this was a small problem: they found the bicycle, though the man who stole it had vanished. There they thought the mystery had ended - but it certainly wasn't. Neil and Swede got into a tangle with criminals who were willing to use almost any means to get what they wanted!

03: The Crow and the Castle - 1957
Robert Greiner (Illustrator) - Hardcover, 219 pages. Published by Viking Children's Books
Another adventure for the managers of the Carson Street Detective Agency operating out of Belleville, NJ begins for Swede and Neil when they are offered a ride on a hot summer day by a tall writer in an MG who is looking for Captain Wudge. Offering their services, Swede and Neil are told by the writer that he wants pictures of Captain Wudge's famous chess set for a magazine article he is doing, only the pictures have to be taken in secret because of the controversy the planned article will cause. From this start, the book unfolds into a full and funny mystery complete with the antics of Neil's pet crow Hector, the appearance of thugs who bring on more than was bargained for, and the final discovery of a ruby in one of Capt. Wudge's castles (which Hector dropped down a chimney). Also evident is Mr. Robertson's familiar knack of making something very real and earthy out of the unlikely.

04: The Money Machine - 1969
George Porter (Illustrator) - Hardcover, 220 pages. Published by Viking Children's Books
It all started with the money machine that Neil Lambert bought from a mail-order house specializing in magic tricks. Who could have known that using it to fool a gullible friend would bring the Secret Service to investigate him and his partner, Swede Larson? And who could have known how this would lead the Carson Street Detectives to another money machine - one that was printing counterfeit twenty-dollar bills?