Study Guide

The Detectives: Ear, Eye, Arm in The Ear, the Eye, the Arm

By Nancy Farmer

The Detectives: Ear, Eye, Arm

Everybody's favorite detectives put Sherlock Holmes to shame. Why? These crazy sleuths have superpowers that help them read minds (Arm), see stuff from really far away (Eye), and can even hear a whisper from a distance (Ear). So yeah, Sherlock would totes be jealous.

Well, unless we're talking Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock—see, these gumshoes aren't exactly easy on the eyes. They give most people the heebie-jeebies. When they first meet Mrs. Matsika, we're told:

They were used to startling people, except in the Cow's Guts. In the Cow's Guts a person could have green wings and purple horns: no one would be the least surprised. (6.34)

Good to know there's someplace they don't freak people out, but in general, it seems these dudes expect at least a few eyelashes to bat when they walk into a room.

Appearances are superficial, though, and inside, where it counts, the private eyes are honest, hardworking… and almost completely useless. Sure, they find the kids—eventually—but it takes them several weeks to do so, even with their superpowers. Most of the time, they are just around for comedic effect. Even when they get a good hunch, they don't follow up in time to do any good.

Absurdity aside, we get to see a softer side of the detectives when Arm adopts baby Sekai. At first he's bummed out that he might never settle down—he worries his superpower makes it impossible since he can get all up in people's heads (34.56)—but when he mysteriously loses his power, he no longer has to worry. He'd much rather enjoy some quality time with Sekai than read people's thoughts. Aw.

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