Brains Benton Mystery Stories   

Brains Benton Mystery Stories
by Charles Spain Verral

"The crime lab of the Benton and Carson International Detective Agency is well equipped," Brains said loftily.  "There are sleeping accommodations as well as a small bathroom."

"And food?" the Queen said.  "Skeets will have to eat."

"My partner and I both live at home," Brains replied.  "It should not be too difficult for us to . . . ah . . . obtain the necessary provisions."

I could almost see myself pulling stuff off the kitchen shelves without Mom knowing.  Creeps!  This was going to be just great!

                                                                        —page 71, The Case of the Missing Message

This six title series was published from 1959 to 1961 by Golden Press.  The books were later reprinted by Whitman.  The first book was written by Charles Spain Verral.  The remaining titles were credited to the pseudonym, George Wyatt.  Verral was heavily involved in the writing of #2-6.  What is unclear is whether Verral was the actual author of #2-6 or whether he rewrote the work of one or more other authors.
Titles in the Brains Benton Series:

  1. The Case of the Missing Message, 1959
  2. The Case of the Counterfeit Coin, 1960
  3. The Case of the Stolen Dummy, 1961
  4. The Case of the Roving Rolls, 1961
  5. The Case of the Waltzing Mouse, 1961
  6. The Case of the Painted Dragon, 1961

Brains Benton and Jimmy Carson are of middle school age.  They run their own detective agency based out of a hidden upstairs room in the Benton family's garage.  The hidden room is a crime laboratory and is protected by a burglar alarm.  The boys are careful never to enter the laboratory whenever anyone is around.  Brains performs experiments in the laboratory and keeps records of the boys' cases.  He has printed business cards for the firm with his printing press and uses junk to make inventions that the boys use in their cases.

This series bears a marked similarity to the Three Investigators series, and many people believe that Robert Arthur modeled the Three Investigators series after the Brains Benton series.  The similarities are too striking to be passed off as mere coincidence.  The plot of the Three Investigators book, The Mystery of the Silver Spider, has many similarities to the plot of the Brains Benton book, The Case of the Roving Rolls.

Volume 1 was first published by Golden Press in hardcover with dust jacket.  The cover art was printed on the dust jacket, while the cover of the book was in a diamond pattern.  The dust jacket was covered with cellophane and had a spine with a diamond design.  Volume 1 was the only book in the series to be published in dust jacket. 

Volumes 1 through 6 were published by Golden Press in picture covers with textured matte covers.  These books had a diamond design on the spine.  Later, all six books were published by Whitman in picture cover editions with smooth covers and solid color spines.  The Whitman books were published in both 5 7/8 inch wide books and 5 1/4 inch wide books.  The larger books came first.  The books were later issued in softcover with different cover art.

Minor text changes were made between the diamond spine books and the later solid spine books.

A number of self-published Brains Benton books written by fans are available.  These books were published with the permission of the estate of Charles Spain Verral.  Please visit the following page for information.

The Brains Benton Anthology

My Brains Benton Blog Posts

  #1 The Case of the Missing Message
"I want you to go out and find a mystery, Operative Three," orders Brains Benton.  Jimmy Carson doubts that he can find a mystery, but exactly that happens as Jimmy gives his sales pitch for subscriptions to the town's newspaper.  Out at the old Madden house, the door is answered by a man wearing a bizarre outfit, and when Jimmy leaves, he sees a boy staring out the window.

Later, Brains and Jimmy return, where they learn that the boy, Skeets Fenton, is in grave danger.  Cousin Otto took control of the circus when Skeets' parents died.  The circus should belong to Skeets, and a missing message contains information that would discredit Otto.  Brains and Jimmy take the case, promising to help Skeets find the message.

The Case of the Disappearing Message
  #2 The Case of the Counterfeit Coin
Jimmy finds a strange foreign coin mixed in with the money he has collected for subscriptions to the town's newspaper.  Jimmy excitedly calls Brains on a pay phone in a drugstore.  While Jimmy speaks on the phone, a man tries to steal the coin!  Later, Brains examines the coin, discovering that it is a counterfeit of an ancient Greek coin.

The boys uncover clues leading them to suspect a group of men is counterfeiting valuable coins and selling them to collectors at high prices.  Unfortunately, some of the boys' clues result in a respected man being accused of being the counterfeiter.  Brains and Jimmy have no choice but to right their wrong, so they set out to prove the identities of the true counterfeiters.

The Case of the Counterfeit Coin
  #3 The Case of the Stolen Dummy
Brains and Jimmy are horrified when they discover a submerged car in a pond—with a body hanging out of the window!  Convinced that someone was murdered, the boys tell the police.  When the car is recovered, the body turns out to be a dummy, and the police chief is furious.

Money raised for a fundraiser has been stolen, and the submerged car is linked to the primary suspect, a man who is good friends with Brains.  Convinced that his friend, Will Parslow, is innocent, Brains and Jimmy search for the real thief.  The case seems hopeless as every clue builds evidence against Parslow.

The Case of the Stolen Dummy
  #4 The Case of the Roving Rolls
Jimmy's Uncle Ed sends him a letter about the imminent arrival of Prince Halam in Crestwood.  Uncle Ed is concerned that two men who recently left for the United States may also come to Crestwood to harm Prince Halam.  He suggests that Brains and Jimmy keep their eyes open.

When Mrs. Willoughby's chauffeur, Frothingham, is charged with hit-and-run, the boys set out to prove his innocence.  Soon, they learn that the enemies of Prince Halam wanted Frothingham out of the way so that they could move forward with their plan.  Brains and Jimmy must find a way to outsmart the villains before harm comes to Prince Halam.

The Case of the Roving Rolls
  #5 The Case of the Waltzing Mouse
Jimmy looks forward to a nice two-week long vacation at the lake.  Just before departing, Jimmy and Brains attend an animal show put on by Professor Gustave Von Maltzbenden.  The boys become concerned when they notice that the professor carries a huge sum of money in a basket.

The boys meet up with the professor at the lake, where they discover that a fired employee is after his money.  The boys keep an eye on the professor, worrying about his safety.  Despite the boys' efforts, the professor and his money disappear!  Brains and Jimmy have their hands full taking care of the professor's abandoned menagerie while trying to locate him.

The Case of the Waltzing Mouse
  #6 The Case of the Painted Dragon
Jimmy loses his cool when a man in a black car shows up at the school looking for a Japanese boy.  Brains and Jimmy later learn that a Japanese student named Mikko has just started attending their school and that Mikko's father worked for Army Intelligence during World War II.  Mikko's parents are no longer alive, so he is staying with friends in Crestwood.

Brains and Jimmy fear for Mikko's safety as the black car follows Mikko around town.  After Mikko's home is ransacked, Brains and Jimmy offer their services.  They investigate the deaths of Mikko's parents, discovering that their car may have been forced off the road.  After the accident, someone searched the car without stealing anything, very similar to what just happened at Mikko's home.  Brains suspects that someone is looking for something in particular.

The Case of the Painted Dragon
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