The boys are on their way across the Santa Monica mountains when the truck has a blow-out. Making their way to a nearby barn to use the phone, Jupe is mistaken for a scarecrow, which is plaguing a local socialite, who has a big phobia of bugs and spiders. The mystery deepens when an entomologist, who is studying army ants, has samples stolen and everything seems to tie in with the nearby Mosby museum. Filled with vivid, exaggerated characters, this suffers somewhat in that everyone accepts the scarecrow is wandering around, which doesn’t help the suspense at all. Laetitia, the socialite, is very irritating and it’s hard to feel sympathy for her and, whilst all the characters seem to have a motive, Jupe is uncharacteristically dismissive of them. Worse, when the book reveals the true mystery - a double-attempt at art theft - you’re left wondering why the criminals decided that dressing up like a scarecrow would work. As polished as ever, this seems very slight in comparison to its immediate predecessors and a lot of the detection is left to chance (including one rescue of the boys, which is almost an ‘with one bound he was free’ moment). This isn’t bad and the quick pace helps to paper over some of the cracks, but this certainly isn’t a strong entry in the series.