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The Unusual Suspects
Author: Michael Buckley
Illustrator: Peter Ferguson
Publication date: October 1, 2005
Published by: Harry N. Abrams
ISBN: 0810959267
Publication Order
The Fairy-Tale Detectives
The Problem Child

The Unusual Suspects is the second book in the Sisters Grimm series by Michael Buckley. In book two of the series, the Sisters Grimm start school at Ferryport Landing Elementary. Daphne’s lucky enough to get Snow White for a teacher—she loves little people—but poor Sabrina’s stuck with Mr. Grumpner and a class of mildly psychotic sixth graders. When Mr. Grumpner is found hanging in a spider’s web, it's up to the Grimms to find the Everafter who did it. If only Sabrina can get over her distrust of all fairy-tale folk. But how can she trust those who just might be responsible for the disappearance of her parents?


Even fairy-detectives have to go to school!

For Sabrina Grimm, living in a community of fairy-tale characters means always being ready for trouble. And something is definitely wrong at her new school.  The adults seem too angry, the kids seem too sleepy and the gym teacher likes dodgeball way too much. Of course, her little sister Daphne is having the time of her life. (Who wouldn't with Snow White for a teacher -she's so good with little people!) But when Sabrina's teacher, Mr. Grumpner, is found dangling in a giant spider's web, even sunny Daphne's convinced Ferryport Landing Elementary has a monster problem. Can the Sisters Grimm solve the crime?


"For the friends who shaped my life: Michael Madonia, Michael Nemeth, Tood Johnson, Ronald Schultz, Ed Kellett, and Heather Averill Farley"


"First and foremost, all praise to my brilliant editor, Susan Van Metre, whose hard work and guidance can be found on every page of this book. Also, much thanks to the entire team at Amulet Books, most notably Andrea Colvin and Jason Wells. My thanks also go out to my agent, Alison Fargis, and everyone at The Stonesong Press; Joe Deasy for his insight and humor; my wife, Alison, for her love and inspiration; my mom and dad; Paul Fargis, Molly Choi, Maureen Falvey, Beth Fargis Lancaster, Doug Lancaster, and of course, Daisy."

The Scarlet Hand.jpg
The Scarlet Hand.jpg
Warning - Spoiler Alert!
The following page contains content that reveals the plot-line for the later books and/or a character's development


  • Under Construction*


Sabrina is stumbling through a maze of tunnels, shovel in hand, trying to find her family, who are in great danger. She sees a light, quickens her pace, and enters an enormous cave. No one seems to be there, so she begins to leave, when something hits her in the back. Clicking and hissing noises are heard, and Sabrina shouts that she comes for her family. Her unseen attacker strikes at her again, but misses. Sabrina says, "I won't be easy to kill," to which her attacker replies, "Kill you? This is a party! And you're the guest of honor."

Chapter 1 (Three Days Earlier)

It's about three weeks after Sabrina first arrived at Ferryport Landing, and she along with her seven-year-old sister are hiding behind some toys in Gepetto's Toy Shop. Gepetto was having some burglary problems, so Granny Relda volunteered to help Sheriff Hamstead solve the mystery. It's been the fifth day of stakeout, and Sabrina is annoyed. She feels she has better things to do, and her legs are cramped. "Let's get this party started, already!" she complains. Suddenly, Elvis smells something and runs toward the scent. Unfortunately, his leash is wrapped around Sabrina's foot, so she is dragged along with him. They crash into a pile of sticky glue mousetraps; each one has a tiny Lilluputian stuck to it, revealing the culprits. Relda and Hamstead emerge from their hiding places to arrest them. Granny gives a security guard a dose of Forgetful Dust when Hamstead's magical guise starts to disappear. This use of Everafter magic upsets Sabrina.

At the Grimm house, Granny announces that Sabrina and Daphne must go to school the next day. Sabrina tries to feign illness so she can stay home and research about her missing parents, but Granny is firm. Once everyone but Sabrina is asleep, she sneaks into the magic mirror (as she does every night) using keys she discreetly stole and copied from Granny's collection. With the help of Mirror, they try to find Sabrina's mom and dad with the Golden Cap, but it fails. As she does every night, she asks Mirror to show an image of her parents. She vows to find her parents before Christmas, and proceeds back to her bedroom. On the way she stops outside Mr. Canis's door, who is struggling to keep the Wolf in check after he attacked Jack in the previous book. Canis smells her through the door, and tells her to go to bed.

Chapter 2

Sabrina dies because..................

Chapter 3

Ms. Smirt, the girls' nasty caseworker from the orphanage they used to live in, says that the sisters are going back to the orphanage because they haven't attend a day of school since coming into Relda's care. (In reality, though, it's the girls' fault because they repeatedly faked being ill so they could stay home and research clues for finding their missing parents.) Smirt is about to take the girls away when Elvis the dog comes and tackles the caseworker. Sabrina and Daphne refuse to call him off unless Smirt lets them go to school and not take them back to New York City. Smirt begrudgingly agrees.

As the sisters are enrolled into Ferryport Landing Elementary, they meet Casper Sheepshank, the school's guidance counselor (whom Ms. Smirt flirts with), and Principal Hamelin, an Everafter who is really the Pied Piper of Hamlin, who was able to entrance animals and human with his pipes. Daphne gets the beautiful and kind Snow White as her teacher; Sabrina, however, gets mean Mr. Grumpner for homeroom. Some other students in the class are a boy named Toby, a blond girl, and a student named Wendell, who arrives late and is cruelly punished by Grumpner. Sabrina realizes that Wendell is Principal Hamelin's son, thus an Everafter. Sabrina, being extremely suspicious of Everafters, wonders if any other Everafter students could be in the school.

All of Sabrina's other classes seem to be filled with mean teachers and sleepy students; in contrast to Daphne's, who is having the time of her life. At lunch, Sabrina is purposely knocked down by an ugly girl named Natalie. In response, Sabrina punches the girl, and is immediately sent to the counselor's office by Mr. Grumpner. Mr. Sheepshank tells Sabrina that anger is a natural human emotion and it is healthy to let it out instead of "bottling it up." He lets Sabrina leave without punishment. When Sabrina goes to her locker to get her jacket, the sisters find the inside of her homeroom covered in cobwebs and a large sack of spider webs hanging from the ceiling, with a dead Mr. Grumpner inside. On a nearby chalkboard is a scarlet handprint.

Chapter 4

Soon Mayor Charming, with the Sheriff and Mr. Seven, arrive to the scene of the crime, where Charming concludes that an army of spiders attacked Mr. Grumpner. Granny Relda, however, thinks that a single monster killed the teacher instead. Some crow feathers are found near the window. When the sisters Grimm point out the Scarlet Hand's symbol on the chalkboard, Charming denies the Hand's existence because he doesn't want to have citizens panic. The Grimms are later notified to meet the mayor at his mansion. There, Charming explains to them that since Sabrina and Daphne crashed his town fundraiser, Ferryport Landing has been broke and Charming had to make cuts, leaving him with only one police officer who was already stretched too thin. Therefore, Charming wants them to solve this case to protect his former fiancee, Snow White. After Charming deputizes them, Relda, Canis, Elvis, and the sisters go back to the school to find some clues. When they find some chalky footprints, they see a gigantic frog creature who says, "I spy with my little eye something dead."

Chapter 5

The Grimm women run to their car where Mr. Canis and Elvis are waiting, but are still pursued by the frog-girl. The monster tries to kill them multiple times until Granny finally steers the car over a broken bridge and loses her. Once home, Relda arranges a visit with the Widow, the Queen of the Crows. The Widow reports that some crows in her flock had briefly blacked-out that day after hearing music and woke up in the school yard without remembering how they got there, which hinted that the Piper might be back to his games. The Widow warns Granny not to mess with the Scarlet Hand, who sent her a message that Relda was not aware of. However, once looking outside, the Grimms are shocked to see the house covered in red handprints, though they've only been home for an hour.

Chapter 6

The next morning Sabrina is dismayed to discover that Puck is going to school with her from now on to protect her from monsters (Daphne will not need Puck as a bodyguard because Relda trusts Snow White to protect her.) At school Sabrina is shown unexpected kindness from Bella, the blond girl in her homeroom, who fixes her hair, which was very frizzy from Puck's goop trap. When she meets her new homeroom teacher, The Queen of Hearts, Sabrina realizes that all of her classmates forgot about Mr. Grumpner because Everafters sprinkled Forgetful Dust over the town. This infuriates Sabrina so much that she shouts the truth, but luckily none of her human classmates understand. Over the course of the day Sabrina and Puck get numerous detentions.

During lunch Daphne gives her sister the silent treatment (because the previous night Sabrina expressed her distrust against Everafters) until Sabrina explains that she saw Wendell has the same dust on his shoes found at the crime scene and convinces Daphne that she must get a detention so she could help Sabrina and Puck investigate afterwards. Daphne, not wanting to disappoint Ms. White, asks her for a detention, which makes the teacher suspicious. When arriving at detention, the Grimms are shocked to see Ms. White and Mrs. Heart in the detention room injured along with a devoured janitor. The kids spot Wendell running away and they corner him in the woods. He takes out his harmonica and, using the "piping" abilities of his father, summons an army of rabbits to attack them.

Chapter 7

As the rabbits chase after them in hot pursuit, Puck grabs each girl by the hand and flies above the animals. After Sabrina mocks his mediocre villainy, Puck leads the wave of rabbits through several innocent people's homes to show how much mischief he can make. Puck plans to drop them in the Hudson River but crashes against the Barrier and all three drop into the water. Sabrina and Daphne manage to make it to shore but Sabrina has to carry the unconscious Puck and attempts CPR. Puck wakes up and accuses Sabrina of trying to kiss him while he was "vulnerable". They are driven home by Snow White, who explains that in the detention room she, Mrs. Heart, and Charlie the janitor were attacked by a hairy monster similar to Bigfoot. Wendell saved them by using his harmonica to make the beast run away. Sabrina argues that Wendell is not to be trusted because he sent an army of rabbits at them and "besides," she says, "he's an Everafter." Sabrina is convinced that all Everafters are evil and deceptive - even the ones Relda befriended, because they "just haven't figured out what they're up to yet" - due to the fact one of them kidnapped her parents. Ms. White replies that "Everafters are not all alike." Relda, who overhears the conversation, gives Sabrina an unsuccessful lecture about the dangers of anger and hatred, and Sabrina runs to her room upset. When she awakens from a long nap, the Grimms go to the school to help find Wendell, who is missing.

Chapter 8

With the help of Elvis, Wendell is found in the freezing outdoors, kept warm by the many rabbits.Wendell reveals that he saw a giant spider attack Grumpner and summoned birds to attack it himself (thus the feathers on the window sill). He reports finding tunnels being buried under the school and speculates that the monsters in the school are actually Everafter children. Granny Relda later gathers together the Frog Prince and his Princess; Beauty and the Beast ; and Spider and Miss Muffett. All were past teachers at Ferryport Elementary and retired once they won the lottery. However, research finds that none of them won the lottery, and each couple confesses to selling their only children to Rumplestiltskin for instant wealth. A disgusted Sabrina yells at them for their mistake, angering Granny and causing Relda to close the case for the sisters Grimm. However, Sabrina yearns to investigate further so the next day she, Puck, and Daphne join forces with Wendell to search the tunnels with the help of Drink Me juice. In the tunnels, they find Principal Hamelin arguing with someone that their plan had gone too far, no one was supposed to die. The unseen person counters that tonight their goal will be reached. Then, a mouse eats Sabrina's Eat Me cake, growing to a huge size and wreaks havoc on the school.

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