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Literature / Ruby Redfort

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Look into her eyes.

You can never be completely sure what might happen next.
Ruby's Rule 1

Ruby Redfort is a book series written by Lauren Child (of Charlie and Lola fame), and follows the adventures of Teen Superspy Action Girl Ruby Redfort.

The daughter of socialites Brant and Sabina Redfort, expert codebreaker and Teen Genius Ruby is recruited by secret agency Spectrum into helping solve codes for a case that resulted in the death of the previous codebreaker. The case turns out to be much more complicated than that, and Ruby, breaking more than a few Spectrum rules and becoming a part field agent, investigates.

The idea for the novels originates from Child's book series Clarice Bean. In it, Clarice is obsessed with a Book Within a Book Ruby Redfort, about a smart girl spy. According to Child, she got so many letters from fans asking for more about Ruby, she wrote some.

Books in the series:

  • Look Into My Eyes
  • Take Your Last Breath
  • Catch Your Death
  • Feel the Fear
  • Pick Your Poison
  • Blink and You Die

A supplementary handbook of sorts, Hang in There Bozo: The Ruby Redfort Emergency Survival Guide for Some Tricky Predicaments, is also available.


  • Academic Athlete: Ruby is not only a straight A student and a child prodigy, she plays basketball, swims, runs, and later learns martial arts.
  • Action Girl: Ruby definitely falls into this category.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The books are much more complicated than the books Clarice Bean reads.
  • Adaptational Wimp: While still a interesting guy, Clancy Crew isn't as cool as he is in the books Clarice Bean reads. Here, Clancy is often kidnapped and scared, and far from unflappable: he even flaps his arms when excited, worried, or agitated.
  • Adapted Out: The Count's Number Two in the Clarice Bean books, Hogtrotter, doesn't appear.
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  • Always a Bigger Fish: Initially, we believe the Count to be the Big Bad. Then we realize that somebody else is pulling the strings. Things get complicated from there.
  • Amnesiac Hero: It is revealed that Bradley Baker has been mushroom expert Mo Loveday, with little remembrance of his past.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: Quite often, chapters of Ruby-centric action will be intercut with sometimes seemingly unrelated scenes set elsewhere. These scenes tend to have some impact on the story as a whole, and usually are about what the villains are/were doing, though the first time reader won't know who the characters are yet.
  • Animal Motifs: Spectrum is always associated with flies. All of the entrances to HQ and multiple of their gadgets, such as the barrette and the Escape Watch, somehow involve flies in their design.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Olive bothers Clancy a lot, and even takes Ruby's not-mints after explicitly being told not to. She makes Ruby happy to be an only child.
  • Badass Bookworm: Ruby, who reads a lot, is a math whiz, and knows how to crack codes. It's what gets her into Spectrum.
  • Back for the Finale: Bradley Baker shows in Blink and You Die.
  • Battle Butler: Hitch is undercover as the Redfort's insanely capable 'house manager.' The trope is downplayed in that with he's doing the 'battle' part of the trope, he's usual in spy mode.
  • Black Boss Lady: LB is the leader of Spectrum 8, and was the first female agent. According to the drawings at the end of Book 6, she is visually modeled after Pam Grier.
  • Black-Tie Infiltration: Subverted. Ruby has to go to many classy events as part of her job (and climaxes often occur at these places) but she's not 'infiltrating' them as her parents are rich socialites, so they would go anyway.
  • Brainless Beauty: Brant and Sabina Redfort are very handsome and very popular socialites, but they don't have a lot going on in the brains department.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: The Count, most definitely. His entire aesthetic screams evil movie villain, and what's more- that's 100 percent intentional.
  • Chekhov's Classroom: In book One, one of Ruby's classes gives her information about the Jade Buddha that helps her figure out what Lopez had discovered. It's a little justified considering that the Jade Buddha coming to Twinford is a significant event for the town, so it makes sense that it came up in class. The chemical makeup of the jade coming up might be a little of a stretch, though.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Many things, usually the items that Ruby steals/appropriates from the Spectrum gadget lab.
    • The Escape Watch is a special one, which saves her life multiple times.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Spectrum is a multicolored building, and the departments are organized by an associated color. For example, Ruby is able to guess at where a science lab is using a color. LB and her room are always in white. Bradley Baker's files are colored golden yellow because he was a ray of sunlight according to Froghorn. There might be some synesthesia involved, it's implied that Froghorn, who organizes the files, is a synesthete.
  • Combat Hair Comb: Mrs. Digby takes out Buzz with a pointy hairstick.
  • Cool Car: Hitch allegedly drives one.
  • Cover Identity Anomaly: Ruby spots several holes in Hitch's cover story almost immediately upon meeting him.
  • Cranky Neighbor: Mr. Parker. Ruby even saves his dog from venomous snakes and he still wants her to be punished for trespassing in his yard.
  • Cute Clumsy Girl: Red Monroe is described as impossibly pretty and clumsy, and twice breaks instruments belonging to Ruby.
  • Danger — Thin Ice: The fate of the Australian Marnie Novak and Bradley Baker: while trying to hunt down Ruby, Marnie shoots the ice under Bradley's feet and he drops in. Bug knocks her into the water where "she won't be found until spring" and while Ruby is able to pull out Bradley and speak to him, he dies as well.
  • Deadpan Snarker: A lot of characters fall into this category. Mostly notably Ruby, but also-
    • Most of her friends.
    • Hitch.
    • Blacker, and a lot of the Spectrum staff.
    • LB, on rare occasions.
  • Defictionalization: The series is a defictionalization of a series of novels (and movie) in the Clarice Bean novels.note 
  • Distressed Dude: Clancy is taken by the villains so much he's practically the Designated Victim.
    • Clancy gets kidnapped by the bad guys in book three. When Ruby finds him, he's barely conscious.
    • Clancy also manages to get bitten by a poisonous snake in the fifth book.
    • In the sixth book, he gets kidnapped by the Count Von Viscount himself. He doesn't exactly have the best luck.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: In the final book, it's revealed that the person who was behind everything and orchestrated an entire series worth of devious plotting was... Buzz. Absolutely nobody saw it coming, not even the Count himself.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Most adult women in the series tend to do this in regards to Hitch.
  • Embarrassing First Name, Embarrassing Middle Name, Embarrassing Last Name:
    • LB's got the whole set: Loveday Byrd Uggerlimb.
    LB: My parents had questionable taste.
    • Hitch's full name is Art Hitchen Zachary.
    • Buzz tells Ruby that her full name is Brenda Ulla Zane, and that's why she shortens it to Buzz (BUZ). This is revealed to be untrue.
  • Epic Fail: Ruby attempts to climb the outside of a building at the beginning of Feel The Fear, for pretty much no reason other than the fact that she's bored. She ends up losing her balance because of somebody opening a window in front of her (her dad, no less), and Hitch has to rescue her.
  • From Bad to Worse: Things start kicking in midway through book six. First Ruby is pushed out of a plane by the Australian, who's managed to hijack the flight. Then, after narrowly surviving, she witnesses the death of Bradley Baker, who just so recently was found out to be still alive. Then, she begins to suspect Hitch of being Casey Morgan, the traitor. From there, events come to a head.
  • Gadget Watches: Bradley Baker's and now Ruby's Escape Watch. Not only does it tell time and look nifty, it has lasers, wipers, a message sender, and other cool details. It single-handedly helps Ruby escape being buried in snow.
  • Genre Savvy: Ruby's a great lover of crime fiction, and frequently applies this knowledge to the situations she gets into.
  • Giant Squid: It's the Sea Whisperer in Book Two.
  • Given Name Reveal: There are many of these in Book Six, where the names of LB, Hitch, the Count, the Australian, and Buzz are shown. They are also quite plot relevant.
  • Gut Punch: Baker's (second) death, this time much more final. Worse than that- LB's reaction to it.
  • Hidden Depths: Sabina and Brant are quite stupid, yes, but in Book 2 Ruby admits they are no pushovers. Sabina punches a pirate who tries to steal from her, and she and Brant survive the ordeal.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: The Count does this to Ruby at the climax of Look Into My Eyes. He even traps her in a giant hourglass, for drama.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Ruby has one with Hitch and Blacker!
  • Jumped at the Call: Ruby is flat-out thrilled to work at a secret agency.
  • Killed Off for Real:
    • Book One: Valerie "Nine Lives" Capaldi loses her last life at the end.
    • Book Five:Baby Face Marshall is taken out by the Australian.
    • Book Six: The Australian, Bradley Baker, and Buzz.
  • Kindly Housekeeper: Mrs. Digby is a tough version of one. She loves the Redforts, but won't mind calling them out.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy Ruby Redfort herself is pretty tomboyish being the rough and tough dominant one and refuses to wear anything frilly as stated in the first book while Clancy Crew is rather more on the feminine side being the timid and soft-hearted subservient one and even wore heart-shaped sunglasses that belonged to his sister Lulu in the second book.
  • Master of Disguise: Lorelei von Leyden is ridiculously good at disguising herself as other people: in Book 4, she successfully disguises herself as Nine Lives Capaldi, a dead jewel thief, and is even able to trick one of Ruby's closest friends in believing she is Ruby in Book 5 (admittedly through a camera).
  • The Medic: Doctor Harper, who's "pretty cool" according to Ruby.
  • The Nose Knows: Lorelei von Leyden is a perfumer who has an amazing nose. She recognizes Ruby by the smell of bubble gum, and even has a secret code depending on smells.
  • Outside-Genre Foe: In book 2, a major part of the plot is the mythical but actually real Sea Whisperer, a giant octopus. It stands out for being a fantastic creature when the rest of the series tends to go for unusual but plausible events and characters.
  • Parental Obliviousness: Ruby's parents, Brant and Sabina, have absolutely no clue what's going on in their daughter's life.
  • Pet the Dog: Vapona Begwell, who is Ruby's high-school arch-nemesis, gets several redeeming moments as the series progresses, eventually culminating in her forming a vague friendship with Ruby.
  • Precision F-Strike: In Book Five, Ruby gets so upset with her neighbor Mr. Parker she calls him 'a small-minded jackass,' the harshest language used in the series.

  • Sadistic Choice: 11 years ago, LB was given a choice: to kill 1000+ people or blow up Bradley Baker's ship. She chose the latter.
  • Samus Is a Girl: The true big bad of the series, the previously thought to be male Casey Morgan is learned to be the very female Buzz.
  • Servile Snarker: Mrs. Digby loves the Redforts and they love her, but she isn't above snarking about Brant and Sabina's stupidity.
  • Shown Their Work: The books include complex codes, and Child consulted mathematician Marcus du Sautoy on them. There are full explanations included in the back of each book.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Ruby and Froghorn despise each other; he hates her because she's sassy and takes away attention from him as the youngest agent, she hates him because he's a 'potato-head.' But they work together anyway, and he helps save her in the final book.
  • Soft-Spoken Sadist: The Australian has a motherly voice, which completely frightens Ruby considering the violence of her threats.
  • Spy Speak: LB calls Ruby out on doing this.
    Ruby: Has either one of them squealed?
    LB: This is not an episode of ''Crazy Cops'', Redfort. Could you please refrain from using this appalling TV slang.
    Ruby: Sorry, I mean- are they talking? Did they say anything? Anything we don't already know?
    LB: I'm afraid not- though it's not unusual for hard nuts... criminals for hire to keep their silence.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Buzz pretended to be male as Casey Morgan to get into the Junior Training.
  • Teen Superspy: Ruby, but she was originally meant to only be and code cracker. Bradley Baker was one of these too.
  • Tempting Fate: Ruby does this a lot, to the point of doing dangerous, borderline suicidal things just because she has the strong feeling that she'll make it out alive.
  • Truth Serum: One appears in Book 2, the ink from a giant octopus. Ruby ends up getting squirted, and ends up saying anything she thinks of. It returns in Book 6, and the Count forces Clancy to take some.
    Ruby: Sorry, I gotta say what's on my mind.
    Clancy: You always say what's on your mind.
  • Terms of Endangerment: The Australian woman always refers to her victims as 'sweetie.'
  • Villain Team-Up: Casey Morgan and the Count.
    • The Count also teams up with other villains- Baby-Face Marshall, and Nine-Lives Capaldi
    • Baby-Face, in turn, teams up with Lorelei Von Leyden at one point.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Ruby tends to have this relationship with just about all of her friends. Del Lasco is one of the most notable, and Clancy falls under this category as well.
    • Hitch too.
  • Wacky Parent, Serious Child: In the sense that Sabina and Brant are unintelligent socialites, and their daughter is a genius unconcerned with popularity.
  • The Watson: Clancy asks Ruby a lot of questions.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Lorelei von Leyden disappears from the novel after the plane hijacking in Book 6. Whether she died in the crash or limped away to live another day is unknown.
  • World of Snark: It appears to be that the majority of Twinford residents are slightly snarky.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy:
    • Before Book 1, Carla Lopez, a desk agent at Spectrum, figures something out about the volume's villains. She tries to get a piece of the action by investigating herself, but since she wasn't trained as a spy the Fool's Gold Gang sees her bumps her off.
    • Often Ruby (accompanied occasionally by Clancy) will go face off with the villains by herself. While it generally works out well, it's often not great: in Book 3, she is only able to free the wolf (and the wolf runs away forever), Lorelei and the Australian escape, the cyan scent is swiped by the latter, and Ruby almost dies in a forest fire. In Book 5, while she beats Lorelei in a fight, Lorelei and Babyface are able to evade Spectrum, which likely wouldn't have happened if backup had been there.