Jack Hunter - The French Connection
Jack Hunter - Secret of the King

Jack Hunter
The French Connection


Martin King


This book contains numbers in the form of an Ottendorf cipher. By unlocking the cipher you will be able to uncover the location of a secret door. Accept the challenge and help Jack unlock the door to discover what lies beyond.

Chapter One

Jack lay awake... there was something important he needed to remember. A nagging thought erupted into realisation. Suddenly remembering, he sat bolt upright. Today was the beginning of the best week, ever.

Normally, he would hit the snooze button at least three times until his mum finally came and banged on his bedroom door. Not this morning! Cheering loudly, he leapt from the security of his bed with a grin of excitement beaming across his face.

“JAAACK!” his mum yelled from downstairs as he opened the bedroom door.

Jack was determined nothing would ruin his day – even a run-in with The Stoneman could not dampen his spirits. David Pullen, nicknamed ‘The Stoneman’, was the top of Jack’s most hated person list. In fact, he was the only person Jack did not like. The Stonemans’ favourite pastime seemed to consist of making his life a misery and Jack did not have a clue why.

“Make sure you get some breakfast,” his mum called.

“Al-mmm-right,” he replied with a mouth full of foaming, white toothpaste. As he waved his fancy new electric toothbrush around, toothpaste splattered the bathroom, covering the mirror. The toothpaste went everywhere except where it was supposed to.

“Jack, are you cleaning your teeth?” his mum asked outside the bathroom door. Caught by surprise, Jack dropped his toothbrush into the basin. The battery-powered bristles continued to whirl, splashing the gooey, pearly white substance all over his face and dark navy school sweatshirt.

If his mum could hear him cleaning his teeth then what was the point of asking the question? It was obvious he would not be able to reply. Jack argued his case to the person staring back at him from the streaked mirror. The boy with white foaming lips and snow-covered top stared back. After skilfully preparing his defence, “Ye-ah,” was all Jack could muster.

“Why are you cleaning them now? You’re supposed to clean them after your breakfast,” his mum continued. “Otherwise there’s no point in cleaning them at all.”

Jack could not believe what he was hearing. His parents were always telling him to make sure he brushed his teeth. The very morning he actually did clean them, somehow, he was still scolded.

A loud knock at the front door interrupted the victory speech he was now preparing. Jack was certain he would come home triumphant. He hastily sponged the splash marks off his school top guessing his friend had arrived. Holly was sort of Jack’s best friend – sort of, because that privilege was shared with three others.

A little over eight months ago Jack was cruelly ripped from everything he knew and dragged to Barnoldswick, a sleepy town in Lancashire. It seemed at that moment his life was at an end. According to all the statistics, data, and percentages, Jack’s life should have been duller than a big, fat, RUBBISH!

That is until he met Holly (real name Shaun), Martin and Jules Brown – who lived next door – and BT. If you could somehow squash the four of them together, then Jack would have the perfect best friend all rolled into one.

The events of those school holidays would never be forgotten! Just a few weeks after moving to Northern England Jack became something of a local celebrity. Every newspaper wanted to have his picture on the front page. It meant those first few weeks at his new school which would normally have been a living nightmare were in fact, brilliant. Everyone wanted to be his friend.

That was nearly nine months ago. Next week was the Easter holidays. Jack was going on holiday to Disneyland in Paris with his best friends. It was going to be his best holiday ever.

Jack had never been abroad before. The furthest he had ever travelled was Anglesey, a small island off the coast of Wales. Two fantastic weeks stretched before him, starting that afternoon with a trip to Burnley.

Today, out of his four best friends, only Holly would be walking with him on the one-and-a-quarter mile trek to school. Jules and Martin were both staying home with a case of the chickenpox, and BT would not be eleven for another six months, he still went to Coates Lane Primary School. A smile briefly spread across Jack’s face at the thought of Martin missing the BIG day, if only because Martin could be so annoying at times with his childish pranks.

Jack rushed down stairs to the front door.

“Have you got everything, mate?” the super-organised Holly asked, casually leaning against the doorframe and swinging his foot at an imaginary football, while holding his school bag in one hand and the remains of a chocolate-coated Pop Tart in the other.

Jack frowned.

“And, do you have your money for the trip?” reminded Holly, before polishing off the last piece of his breakfast. Holly eagerly licked his fingers clean removing all traces of food.

“Make sure you’ve got everything, Jack,” his mum’s voice was still ringing loudly in his ears as he was about to step out of the house. “And don’t forget to take some bananas, darling. They’re good for giving you energy.” Jack was beginning to feel dizzier than a spinning top. If only everyone would just stop talking all at once.

MONEY! The word struck an immediate chord with him.

“Murrrm,” said Jack, stepping back into the house and throwing her one of his puppy-dog-eyed looks. “Can I have a tenner? I need it for the school trip.” Before his mum had chance to reply, he added, “plerr-ease,” just for good measure.

“I’m sorry, love. I spent it all on shopping yesterday. I needed to get the food for our holiday. You’d better check with your dad. I’m sure he’ll have some money in his wallet.”

That was all Jack needed. His dad’s wallet was more secure than Fort Knox with Scrooge in charge of the keys. Not holding out much hope he entered the kitchen. At that time in the morning, it was the lair of his ferocious dad. He dragged a reluctant Holly along, reasoning; “It’ll be more difficult for Dad to refuse giving the money to me, if you’re there. Besides, he’s always saying how much I should be more like you.”

His dad sat at the table with a mug of tea and a plate of toast. Roger Hunter enjoyed reading the paper, but most of all he enjoyed circling all the errors he found with a red felt marker. “Hello Jacky,” he greeted his son without looking up. “Shouldn’t you be on your way to school by now?” he asked in his usual annoying manner. “Oh, hello there, Shaun,” momentarily glancing up, he greeted Holly as he circled another mistake in the paper. “Did you know that on average there are one hundred and thirty seven grammatical errors in every newspaper?”

Holly shook his head.

“Now there’s a saying; if a job’s worth doing, then do it well! Wouldn’t you agree?”

Holly nodded in agreement.

“Anyway, you make sure our Jacky doesn’t lead you astray.” Roger Hunter laughed at his own quip. His dad’s efforts to impress Holly were somewhat curtailed by a blob of strawberry jam rolling down his chin.

Jack wanted to shout at his dad. A vision of red Indians tying his dad to the chair while the chief wrote JACK on his father’s forehead in buffalo poo to remind him his son’s name was Jack, quickly vanished as he remembered the mission. “Dad… I was wondering if I could have, erm, a tenner for my school trip…it’s today? Please...” he asked shuffling his feet on the spot. “It’s really important.”

Lifting his head out of the newspaper, “They call me Sam Dilly, not Damn Silly,” his dad laughed.

Slamming the front door as he left the house Jack jumped outside with one giant leap. He hated the way his dad showed off in front of his friends. His dad’s stupid expression was still rattling around in his head. The glorious, crystal blue skies of the previous days were somewhat tainted by a mugginess that told him a storm loomed. Torrential rain would completely spoil the big day.

The two boys were no more than five minutes into their hike to school when Jack heard a faint voice cry, “Jack! Holly!” Jack spun around. There was no one to be seen.

“Did you hear someone shout us?” Jack asked Holly.

“Look, is that... BT?” Holly pointed to someone who looked more like a one-foot-tall garden gnome, since they were so far away. BT was not particularly short; he just appeared smaller than his friends because he was only ten years old.

Jack waved and turned back around. There was no time to waste. Old Crumble had made it perfectly clear that anyone late that week, even once, would be dropped from the team – and he was not going to allow anything to stop him. Jack had not even placed one foot in front of the other when he felt a whooshing sensation by his side. Before he knew what was happening, someone had snatched his school bag.

Jack looked up just in time to see BT whizzing past, red and orange sparks spewing out from his heels. “Turbo shoes!” BT cheered with a huge grin, victoriously waving Jack’s bag in the air.

Speechless, Jack turned to Holly for some kind of explanation. Holly returning Jack’s blank expression.

“Look out!” shouted Jack. BT was too busy looking at them and not in the direction he was heading. Before he could slow down, he hit a low wall. Everything happened so fast. Jack and Holly remained rooted to the spot. BT tumbled backwards over the wall, disappearing out of sight, still clutching Jack’s school bag.


BT had fallen into the canal!

Jack Hunter
Secret of the King


Martin King


This book contains clues to the location of the code-breaker. If you collect the letters at the beginning of each chapter, you will discover the whereabouts of the code-breaker.

Chapter One


Jack sighed loudly; loudly enough for Mum and Dad to hear. He was twelve years old and no one ever asked his opinion; about anything. This move was the last straw.

The journey had been a nightmare. Two measly bananas and an out-of-date packet of Worcester sauce crisps, his least favourite flavour – was bad enough, but to be squashed tighter than a hamster in a matchbox for the longest journey in the world was the worst ever.

“Here we are, Jack, number fifty-six St Mary’s Avenue, your new home.” His mother’s voice was bright with false cheerfulness.

Jack stared gloomily at the house. ‘Great,’ he muttered.

The outside walls were overlaid in vomit coloured pebbledash and the front door had been painted an ogre-green. The white plastic number six swung upside down by a single screw.

Jack climbed out of the car, just as the removal van pulled up.

The neighbours were already out in force pretending to work in their gardens or wash their cars.

His dad bore more of a resemblance to Mr. Beanpole than Roger Hunter, as he unfolded his long wiry body out of the car, and smoothed down the single tuft of hair that grew out of the top of his head. He adjusted his thick-rimmed specs.

“Come on, Jacky,” he shouted as he sprang to open the dilapidated gate. “Let’s make hay while the sun shines.”

Jack winced. He hated being called Jacky, because it made him sound like a girl. And he hated Dad’s outdated expressions, ‘make hay while the sun shines.’ Yuk!

Jack looked around to see if anyone else had heard. Of course, they had! His dad had a voice like a foghorn.

Soon the removal men were unloading stuff from the lorry and carrying boxes and furniture into the house. Dad helped them while Mum directed operations.

Jack slunk around the house and into the back garden. He wasn’t going to help move stuff. What was the point? He wasn’t going to stay here. He was going to go back to Southend as soon as he could.

He wandered through the foot-high jungle of weeds and then limbo danced under a sagging clothesline. He heard a voice, just as he completed his move.

“Hello,” a girl called out. Jack spun around and looked in every direction. “Over here,” he heard her say.

A skinny girl with mousy-blonde hair and a pointed chin was leaning over the fence. She wore a mucky yellow, hand-knitted cardigan. It was so ghastly that Jack could only stare.

“So, you’re the newbies?”

Jack frowned and didn’t answer.

“I’m Jules,” she said. Suddenly, she smiled and as she did so, her cheeks rounded like bubbles. “I’m eleven and I’m off to high school after the summer holidays. I’m gonna be in year seven.” When Jack still didn’t answer, she stuck her tongue out rolling up the edges.

She looked so funny that Jack laughed. He wasn’t sure how to take this strange girl.

“Umm, that tongue thing it’s pretty sikk.”

“You talk funny,” she said. “Are you from Wales? You are from Wales, aren’t you, Welshy boy!”

Jack felt himself blushing. “I’m not from Wales; I’m from Southend.”

“Southend? Never heard of it, but you must be brave though, moving into a haunted house.”

“What are you on about?’

“Hasn’t anyone told you? Mr. Gammon died in his sleep in that house three months ago. You don’t want the front bedroom. Do you know which your bedroom is yet?”

“No,” Jack replied his insides feeling like a bag of popcorn in the microwave that was about to explode.

“And Holly, that’s my brother’s best mate, swore he saw the old man’s ghost peering out the window only last week.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“Yea, I swear it’s true. My brother reckons he eats kids’ brains.”

“Oh yeah,” he said, hoping he sounded unimpressed.

She nodded and then changed the subject, “How old are you?”

“Twelve," he said shortly.

“The same age as my brother, Martin. Will you be going to our school as well? You’ll probably be in his class. Wait a minute and I’ll go and find him.”

“Er no need, I’m not staying,” said Jack, wasting his breath. She was already tearing off and calling Martin’s name.

“Jack…Jack where are you?” his dad shouted.

Jack loped back to the house.

“Where’ve you been? You need to tell the removal men where to put your stuff. Your bedroom is the one at the front of the house.”