After I finished reading The Boy Detective Fails, I went back and solved all the codes in the book. I really went back and forth over marking up the solutions to the codes in the book, or doing it on scrap paper. In the end I worked them out without marking up the book, so that I could hand it off to other people and they could enjoy solving the puzzles on their own.
If you've read the book and you're having trouble with the codes, or you're just lazy (like me), I wanted to provide some help. I'm not going to provide the solutions, just how to solve the codes, but I'm still going to treat it like a spoiler and hide the rest of the information past the jump...
There are three codes used in The Boy Detective Fails (that I know of).
The copyright page notes "To the astute reader: It may be of interest to you to note, for the purpose of decoding the hidden story placed within these pages, that A=N." From pages 27 to 313 there are encoded words at the bottom of each page, which can be decoded, as the note suggests, using the substitution code A=N, B=O, etc. This code "loops" so that N=A, if that makes sense. So the entire code is:
For various historical reasons, this was a fairly oft-used code in the online world of yesteryear, and is known as ROT-13 (as in, each letter is ROTated 13 positions through the alphabet). If your hand or mind tires of translating the words, you can use the automatic services of rot13.com.
In the advance copy I have, the very first word on page 27 is misspelled and should be Qrerx'f.
- 2 -
On pages 113, 202 and 265 Billy receives a message consisting of numbers, and a key (X=1, ) that refers to the Boy Detective Decoder Ring encluded on the back cover. If you cut the decoder ring out and place the numbered ring inside the lettered ring and line up the indicated letter/number combo you'll have the substitution code to decode the messages. If you don't want to cut up your book, here's the three codes:
- 3 -
On pages 306-307 Billy realizes that Caroline's diary entry contains a code: The first letter of every other line spells out a message. This code is also true of the diary entries on pages 19, 59-60, and 185.
- Hidden Message Word Search -
After the end of the book, there are several "activities" such as a connect-the-dots, a maze, and a hidden message word search. Cross out the words provided and the letters remaining will spell out a secret message. Three hints if you're having trouble: the words can be found horizontally, vertically, diagonally, and may be backwards; some words overlap; and there are extra un-used letters beyond what's needed for the puzzle.
Update: The first code leads to a correspondence and another code, and I've posted some hints for solving that one.
Update 5/25/10: I've updated the hints with the actual correspondence, as I'm told that the email address is no longer active.