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Literature / Teen Power Inc.

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Teen Power Inc., also known as Raven Hill Mysteries is a kids crime series created by Emily Rodda of Deltora Quest fame.

The books follow a group of six broke teenagers who team up to earn money taking local, part-time jobs as a group. These jobs inevitably plunge the teens in the midst of crimes or adventures, and in some ways it is a modern Australian successor to The Famous Five.

There are thirty books in the series, and each of the six kids is the first-person narrator of five of the books. The series, originally published in the mid-90s, has been reprinted as Raven Hill Mysteries.

This series provides examples of:

  • Accidental Misnaming: In Dirty Tricks, prickly librarian Mr. Kelly repeatedly calls Elmo Alvin by mistake.
  • Adventure Towns: The teens seemingly cannot go anywhere without having a new adventure.
  • All Asians Know Martial Arts: Sunny is the only Asian main character. She's an expert at tae-kwon-do. To be fair, this is portrayed as a result of her being the sporty one of the group, and her love of jogging, acrobatics and other athletic pursuits is emphasised (often moreso).
  • Aloof Big Sister: Sunny has four successful older sisters who are nice enough, but have their own interests and aren't very expressive. In Beware the Gingerbread House, she doubts any of them will care if she leaves town to live with their father (their parents are divorced) and is shocked and touched when they cheer after hearing her story about how she trapped a criminal.
  • Beauty, Brains, and Brawn: Of the three girls, Richelle is the beauty, Liz is the brains and Sunny is the brawn. Clouded slightly in the sense that sometimes Sunny is the brains, in terms of being the most level-headed and difficult to manipulate or distract.
  • Big Eater: Tom never misses an opportunity to eat large servings even when his friends have no appetite.
  • Big Sister Bully: Richelle's older sister Tiffany is frequently unkind and insulting towards her.
  • Birds of a Feather: Most obvious with Nick and Richelle. Liz and Elmo may also qualify.
  • The Bus Came Back: The Wolf, a criminal first featured in #6 Beware of the Gingerbread House makes a reappearance in #30 Dead End.
  • …But He Sounds Handsome: In Poison Pen, Elmo correctly insists that anonymous gossip columnist The Eye isn't behind a series of poison pen letters, arguing that The Eye's articles are clever, non-malicious, and entirely unlike the letter writer. The last two pages reveal that Elmo is The Eye.
  • The Case Of: #16 The Case of Crazy Claude.
  • Clear My Name: In #30 Dead End, Sydney "The Wolf" Wolfe hires six Teen Power lookalikes to frame the gang for causing trouble. This of course leads to the real gang getting to the bottom of it in order to clear their names.
  • Commonality Connection: Tom and Sunny have one of the closer friendships among the main cast in some books, and Tom thinks it helps that they are the only two of the six with divorced parents.
  • Cool Big Bro: Tom enjoys entertaining his younger half-brothers and is cool with listening to their stories about their days. He can also tell when they need help with a problem, even when their parents fail to notice something is wrong.
  • Crazy-Prepared: In "Beware the Gingerbread House," Mrs. Crumb, an accomplice of ruthless crimelord Sidney "The Wolf" Wolfe, has spent years keeping a bag of charred bones in her closet to fake her death in an explosion if she ever fails him.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: In "Green for Danger", the mastermind behind the two criminals who organized an armed robbery is a nice and quirky elderly flower lady, who turns out to be the mother of one of the criminals, and is also somehow related to the other one.
  • Dumb Blonde: Richelle, at least in the books not told from her POV. When the reader gets to see inside Richelle's head, it becomes clear that she actually is quite intelligent, albeit lazy and sometimes unimaginative.
  • Dwindling Party; In Dead End, the kids are framed for various crimes and then start vanishing from town, one by one, until only Nick is left. The kids who leave keep being seen in public places like bus stops that make it seem as if they are voluntarily leaving town. Actually, they have been kidnapped, and the kids making themselves conspicuous in public places are the same lookalikes who helped frame the gang.
  • False Friend: In some books, the villain seems to be close friends with sympathetic characters but are really victimizing for completely unjustified reasons.
    • In The Ghost of Raven Hill, Terry Bigge and Elmo "Zim" Zimmer II's late fathers were best friends and Zim and Terry have known each other for decades. Terry loans Zim money to keep his struggling newspaper afloat and acts apologetic about how his own debts and obligations are forcing him to demand prompt repayment of the loan at a hard time for Zim. It's all an act: Terry has been sabotaging the paper to put it in debt, plans to sell it to Zim's hated enemy, and privately mocks Zim for being such a Horrible Judge of Character and borrowing from him in the first place.
    • In The Missing Millionaire, miserly hotelier Bruce Piggot seems to have a soft spot for his neighbor, the cheerful and generous plasterer Albie, whom he plays cards with and speculates on lottery numbers with. However, however real their Odd Friendship may have been beforehand, it does not survive their lottery ticket winning $2,000,000 while Albie is laid up in bed. Piggot decides to hide the fact that their ticket won and keep Albie's half of the money for himself. He acts like a caring friend who wants to make sure Albie gets better through rest, when he really just wants to keep Albie in bed until the lottery number stops appearing on the news.
    • In Fear in Fashion, the kids' latest boss, Dee Dee, takes on a Cool Big Sis role with them, encouraging their dreams (like Richelle's modeling aspirations) and praising their talents. She is just buttering them up to be Unwitting Pawns in a con game. Richelle is hit especially hard when she observes the others (save Sunny, who was always a bit suspicious) lamenting how they were fooled and muses about how they were silly to be fooled and at least Dee Dee wasn't all bad due to recognizing Richelle's potential to be a model, only to halt mid-thought as she realizes Dee Dee was manipulating her the same as the others. She then becomes particularly invested in catching Dee Dee.
  • Free-Range Children: The more common free range teens.
  • Gender-Equal Ensemble: Three boys and three girls.
  • Genius Bruiser: Sunny is a fit, athletic gymnast and Tae Kwon Do expert who is also good at spotting clues and coming up with strategies to trick or escape dangerous criminals.
  • The Ghost: In Danger in Rhyme, the perpetrator of the crime spree is not present during the denouement where he is identified, is arrested offscreen, and never encounters the narrator beforehand (although he is mentioned by name in one earlier chapter).
  • Girly Girl: Richelle, oh so much. She is a lot more prone to talking about her hair and clothes than Liz and Sunny are, and is also far less adventurous than them.
  • Graceful Loser: The main culprit in Dangerous Game is clearly impressed and not really mad after hearing the narrator's summation and being exposed as a smuggler. He even pays the gang for the work they did before learning he was a crook.
  • Granola Girl: Liz is a mild example.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: Nick and Richelle are the most materialistic and irritable of the kids and the least prone to doing good deeds for the nothing. However, some of the books from their perspectives show that their private thoughts can be a lot nicer than what they say out loud, such as in The Case of Crazy Claude, where Nick's father wants him to quit the gang and he want to and is determined to stay with the others without ever telling this to them.
  • Hollywood Heart Attack: In the final book The Wolf is mentioned as complaining about stomach pains, then, after seeing his plans foiled, turns red, clutches at his chest, and dies off-screen.
  • Honest Corporate Executive: Nick’s father runs a prosperous import-export for all kinds of products. While his business rarely gets much attention when (in The Case of Crazy Claude) he learns that one of his associates is a thief, he helps trap the man, spreads the word about his untrustworthiness, and helps the victim of the thefts get the money and success that should have been his all along.
  • The Igor: In The Case of Crazy Claude, the eponymous inventor's lab assistant Eric is a hairy, slouching man who wears baggy clothes and rarely speaks except to grunt and make comments about cartoons. He does get some Hidden Depths in the final chapters, though, albeit in a bad way: his slouch, hair, wardrobe, and seemingly low intelligence are all fake so that Claude won't recognize "Eric" as a rival inventor who has been stealing Claude's ideas.
  • Ironic Nickname: Alice "Sunny" Chan is by no means The Eeyore, but she is a very serious person whose infrequent moments of sunny humor and joy tend to be Not So Stoic moments.
  • It's All About Me: Richelle sometimes makes her extreme self-interest rather obvious.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Tom as the Innocently Insensitive to the lesser extent. Richelle, the vainful and selfish girl and Nick, the arrogant guy who's Only in It for the Money but nevertheless decent people if things comes under fire for Teen Power Inc and anyone.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Several villains seem like mean and gruff people who have kinder sides, only to turn out to be guilty of causing a Mystery of the Week for unsympathetic reasons.
    • In The Ghost of Raven Hill, Terry Bigge is a greedy developer who makes some condescending remarks about the kids, but he loaned a lot of money to his old acquaintance Zim and seems to be his ally throughout difficult times. He is really pitilessly betraying Zim, planning to use the loan to take over his paper and sell it to Zim's hated rival. And if that's not bad enough, he caused Elmo's grandfather to have a fatal heart attack while trying to steal a Lost Will and Testament from him.
    • In The Missing Millionaire, Bruce Piggot is an extremely Mean Boss and a miser who shirks on giving his guests good food to boot, but he seems protective of his Only Friend, only for it to turn out that he is robbing that friend.
    • In Dirty Tricks, Mr. Kelly, the assistant librarian, is often rude, arrogant, and humorless, but he accepts a painting that his fired colleague Mark Raven made even when no one else likes it and says that he knew his boss, Ms. Spicer, was pulling literary-themed pranks to attract tourists and that a lot of his tirades about the prankster were a subtle way of trying to warn her to stop before she got into trouble. Then it turns out that he has been trying to get Ms. Spicer fired through unethical means the whole time, and one of his schemes involves destroying Mr. Raven's painting (which Kelly likely only accepted for the library in the first place because he knew Ms. Spicer would hate it).
  • Kid Detective: Six teen detectives.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: The villain of Photo Finish is perfectly willing to try to kill Tom, but retreats with a cry of rage after Tom throws evidence out the window into the crowded streets below, meaning that killing Tom won't hide the culprit's identity. Unfortunately for said culprit, the police are guarding the exit.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: While Abner Cain from Breaking Point isn't the Big Bad of the book, he does shamelessly manipulate the gang in a way that involves faking an injury, only to suffer that injury for real during a scuffle with the main villain in the climax. He even lampshades how poetic it is.
  • Little Miss Badass: Sunny is a black belt in tae-kwon-do, which often is the first thing the other characters think of when their lives are threatened. However, she hardly ever uses this.
  • Mailman vs. Dog: Zigzagged in "The Bad Dog Mystery." Jock (the eponymous dog) got along great with the previous mailman (who'd throw letters for him to catch) but constantly chases the new mailman, because the new mailman is a burglar who hurt Jock's owner.
  • Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: Several books, including The Sorcerer's Apprentice, The Secret of Banyan Bay, The Missing Millionaire, Crime in the Picture, The Case of Crazy Claude, Photo Finish, Danger in Rhyme, and Dirty Tricks, feature a local (often the gang's employer) who has little to do with the rest of the town and is often viewed as being aloof, weird, or or scary, but shows a lot of warmth around the gang (or at least the narrator) sooner or later, and occasionally throughout all of their pagetime. However, this is also played with, since some of those characters turn out to be the Villain of the Week, or at least a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing.
  • My Beloved Smother: In The Missing Millionaire, a woman who works with Mrs. Free is over thirty, but her mother still has her on a curfew and makes her ask permission before letting her date anyone. It turns out that two of the suspects/motel guests in the book are that woman and a man she secretly married and is preparing to elope with.
  • Nice Guy: Liz, Elmo, Sunny and even Tom when he's not prone to be ing insensitive are the most nicest and sensitive members of Teen Power Inc.
  • No Sympathy: In "Beware the Gingerbread House," Richelle has no problem with watching Mrs. Crumb force Darren and Nutley to eat the food they'd put bugs in to try and discredit the gang and would have let innocent customers eat.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Sunny. Her real name is Alice, but not even newspaper articles about the gang ever mention this. Someone involved in a possible paranormal event in Breaking Point knowing Sunny's real name is treated as possible proof that the haunting is real.
  • Only Sane Man: Sometimes Sunny can take this role, mostly because she can't be manipulated or tricked easily. In Dirty Tricks, Richelle muses that Sunny is the group member least likely to get the six kids into trouble and most likely to get them out of it. Nick thinks he's this.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Tom is written to be more goofy than his friends due to his moments of immaturity and some of the silly sketches he draws.
  • Plucky Girl: Liz and Sunny regularly brave danger and expect new jobs to turn out alright.
  • Police Are Useless: Not anywhere near as bad as The Famous Five, as the cops often believe the kids and help after the villains, but the six kids help out an awful lot more than you'd hope would be necessary with an efficient, local police force.
  • The Quiet One: Sunny is the member of the group who is least likely to make long speeches or jokes.
  • Real After All: In the first book, the characters think they see a ghost but later realize that it was just Pearl, a pale-skinned old woman dressed in white who was friends with Ruby, the alleged ghost, before her death. However, Liz secretly believes there is a real ghost, as something seemed to keep everyone but Liz from finding Pearl, and Liz felt an odd chill in the wind and smelled perfume that Pearl never wears, but Ruby did.
  • The Reliable One: Sunny is often the Only Sane Woman of the group, is a tireless worker, and (when the occasion calls for it) brave fighter. She gets some Deconstructed Character Archetype frustration in Bad Apples due to musing about how she's so reliable that everyone assumes she'll do things without asking her, but she remains reliable throughout that. Richelle even comes close to name-dropping the trope in Beware the Gingerbread House.
    Richelle: Well, you expect Sunny to come through, don't you? Sunny's reliable. That's what's so good about Sunny. It's lucky Sunny isn't going [to live with her father] after all. I don't know what we'd do without her.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: In several books, the main cast have correct concerns and suspicions that are triggered for the wrong reasons.
    • In Beware the Gingerbread House, Sunny eventually accepts that her fear and distrust of Mrs. Crumb stem from Crumb reminding her of a fairytale character who her father read her bedtime stories about right before a difficult time in her life. Mrs. Crumb is an organized crime figure, though.
    • In The Missing Millionaire, the gang finds a note at a motel which says "help us" and has a winning lottery number written on it, causing them to assume the lottery winner has been kidnapped and is being held prisoner at the motel by someone who wants to steal the money. Someone is being held prisoner and questioned about hidden money, but it has nothing to do with the lottery ticket. The note wasn't a cry for help, but just the lottery winner trying to pick numbers that represented letters in the alphabet that formed a coherent phrase in the hopes that it would turn out lucky, which it did.
    • In Saint Elmo’s Fire, the gang think that a pair of creepy caretakers are holding Elmo’s great-aunt hostage and hurting her to make her act normal due to how she has a bruised eye and always seems nervous. ”She” is nervous because she is a man in disguise who knows his deception could fall apart. The bruise is from when the real aunt fought back against him while he and the supposed caretakers were kidnapping her.
  • Sad Clown: Frankie from "Dirty Tricks" is a literal example: a kind, cheerful former circus clown who secretly feels miserable, and oppressed because of Height Angst and how he Never Learned to Read (which has cost him several jobs).
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: In Breaking Point, Nick and Richelle both leave the Haunted House and refuse to come back after suffering apparently supernatural misfortune.
  • Serial Killings, Specific Target: Not killings, but in Danger in Rhyme, a series of bombings is meant to cover up Insurance Fraud of one of the later properties hit.
  • Shouldn't We Be In School Right Now?: Handily averted, as the gang are formed primarily for making extra money during the school holidays.
  • Sixth Ranger: Elmo wasn't a member of the gang in the first book.
  • Spanner in the Works: In "Nowhere to Run", a band of poachers only have to worry about witnesses because of an incompetent camping trip chaperone taking a school class down the wrong trail, refusing to turn back for a long time, and then getting most of them sick with bad food.
  • Spoiled Brat: Nick and Richelle come from richer families than their friends and are more prone to being selfish and obnoxious.
  • Stranger Behind the Mask: The penultimate chapter of Crime in the Picture reveals that the thieving villains are...two men who the gang have never met or even heard of before.
  • Suspicious Spending:
    • In The Sorcerer's Apprentice, as a mugger terrorizes Raven Hill, Tom gets a job working for magic shop owner Sid Foy. Sid's shop has few customers, and what money he has made recently (along with the rent from an apartment above his store) is lost in one of the muggings. Yet, less than a week later, Sid can afford to bring in lots of new stock (such as expensive computer games) to attract younger customers.  Sid is innocent, and the money is from a bank loan.
    • In The Secret of Banyan Bay, one inhabitant of a town plagued by smuggling is a painter with a fancy house and tacky (yet expensive) designer items, even though her paintings don't sell very well. The painter is the creator of the designer items but feels embarrassed about this.
    • In The Case of Crazy Claude, the kids realize someone may be stealing from inventor Claude Craze. Claude’s brother and lawyer Chris (one of the suspects) drives a very expensive sports car and has good suits. He is innocent, and his spending ability comes from being a successful lawyer who also inherited money from his father.
  • Switching P.O.V.: The series rotates the role of narrator among the six members of the core cast.
  • Team Mom: Liz got the group together in the first place and is the person most likely to spend her time helping the others or listening to them in earnest.
  • Technician vs. Performer: An administrative version appears in Dirty Tricks with rival librarians Ms. Spicer (who enjoys making a spectacle out of the stories in books) and Mr. Kelly (who is obsessed with the library being neat, orderly, and free of silliness).
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Sunny and Richelle respectively.
  • The Unsolved Mystery:
    • Late in The Sorcerer's Apprentice, a thief at the elementary school steals money from Liz and Tom's younger brothers. The person Tom and his brother suspect of the thefts is seemingly exonerated (and helps catch a mugger who has been terrorizing the adults of the town), and Tom admits that he never did learn who the elementary school thief is.
    • In Breaking Point, one of the past mysteries about the potential Haunted House is revealed (along with the present day ones), but there is still nothing to explain other parts of the Back Story. Specifically, it remains unclear why the builder of the house disappeared while leaving his money behind, the next owner claimed the house was haunted, or seven subsequent tenants unexpectedly died of an apparent illness at the same time.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: There are kid friendly Aesops, a lot of humor, and Character Development, but a surprisingly large number of villains are explicitly stated to have killed someone. Recurring villain the Wolf is easily the worst of them, as Zim says everyone else who ever crossed him in the past turned up dead and the Wolf later has his goons kidnap the whole gang while planning to gas them to death once he gets a chance to gloat in person.
  • Villain of Another Story: In The Missing Millionaire, Vernon Bligh, a character who only appears in the final chapters, is the getaway driver for a bank robbery crew who stole and hid $400,000 before being arrested. However, rather than being the villain of the book, he is a victim, as he is kidnapped and tortured by a rival criminal who is after the money. This causes Vernon to reluctantly reveal where the loot is hidden after his rescue, to avoid the risk of going through the same thing all over again.
  • Villainous Mother-Son Duo: In "Green for Danger", it turned out that the criminal who was after the precious emeralds was just a pawn in the hands of his mother, a local flower lady who pretended to be a kind and harmless Cloud Cuckoolander.