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Tom Sawyer Detective by Mark Twain, Summary

Updated on July 14, 2017

Mark Twain by AF Bradley



If you are at all like me, you like Mark Twain. If you are a lot like me, you especially like Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

I’m sure you’ve all heard of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Who hasn't seen the movies or read the books growing up? I don't know about you, but they were a staple of my childhood.

However, (most people don't know this) did you know there are two more Tom Sawyer books also written by Mark Twain? I had only a hint about one when I was little and no idea about the other. It wasn't until I was a full grown adult that I was finally able to find and read the other two. I’ll talk about Tom Sawyer Abroad in another hub. In this hub I’d like to introduce you to Tom Sawyer Detective.

Before we start, let me assure you in advance that I will not give away the solution to the mystery or the ending of the story. This story is too good not to read yourself. I've included some extras in this hub as well.

A Tom Sawyer Cartoon From 1917


Tom Sawyer U.S. Postage Stamp



Tom Sawyer Detective is a mystery story involving stolen diamonds and a twin brother, long since presumed dead. The twin, named Jake Dunlap, is a burglar who has escaped prison years ago and has recently teamed up with two more of his kind to steal two diamonds worth many thousands of dollars. During their treacherous dealings with each other, Jake has stolen the diamonds from his partners in a surprising way. The two bilked thieves are now in pursuit of Jake and are bent on killing him and recovering the diamonds.

Tom Sawyer Detective is also a story of jealousy. Tom’s Uncle Silas, a farmer and the town’s parson, has refused to let a richer and more influential land owner, Brace Dunlap, marry his daughter and is forced to take on Brace's “no account brother”, Jubiter Dunlap, Jake’s twin, as a laborer on his farm. Uncle Silas is repeatedly angered by Jubiter to the point of constant quarreling, which puts Tom’s uncle out of favor with the townsfolk as conduct unbecoming of a parson.

On the steamboat ride downriver to Arkansas, to visit Tom’s uncle and his family in their distress, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn are thrust into the middle of the action and its consequent mystery. They meet Jake, Jubiter’s twin, and the thief in possession of the stolen diamonds, on board the river steamboat. After hearing his story, Tom and Huck decide to help Jake. They arrange for him to sneak ashore upriver of Tom’s uncle’s farm while the ship is taking on wood. Unfortunately, Jake’s old partners have been tipped off by someone else onboard and get off the steamboat hot on his trail.

Tom and Huck, although wanting to warn Jake, are delayed getting off the steamboat and arrive only after what they believe to be a murder has taken place. Only, there is no body. They meet up with what they assume to be Jake’s ghost; only he turns out to be a living, breathing man who won’t speak to them. To further complicate things, Brace’s brother, Jubiter, has disappeared. And now, Tom’s uncle has started to act strangely, moaning, sighing, and walking in his sleep.

Ultimately, Tom’s uncle is charged with murder, but who has been killed? Where is the body and where are the diamonds? Tom, with Huck's help, is forced to take on the role of detective, and even courtroom lawyer, in order to save his uncle and solve the mystery.

To top it all off, Mark Twain assures his readers that this is a real murder case of which he has only moved the location, changed the characters to his own familiar ones, and altered very few of the important details!

Tom Sawyer Cartoon


Huckleberry Finn narrates Tom Sawyer Detective. Huck is my favorite Mark Twain character. What I like most about Huck, and this book in particular, is Huck Finn’s personality. I love his unique way of describing and looking at things. Huck is always getting the “fantods” about something, and when he does, he has an enjoyable way of telling us so. Here are some more examples of Huck’s speech:

“And all my livers and lungs and things fell down into my legs.”

“But, by George, they give me the jim-jams and the fantods and caked up what brains I had, and turned them solid.”

“Uncle Silas he preached them the blamedest jumblest idiotic sermons you ever struck, and would tangle you up so you couldn’t find your way home in daylight.”

You can see why I like him so much. Any character who talks like that is worth reading about! I laugh out loud reading books with Huckleberry Finn in them.

If you haven’t done so already, I hope you will read Tom Sawyer Detective. If you have read it, why not revisit it? I’m sure, in either case, you will find it well worth your time. And, since I'm sure you'll want to, I've included a link I have found to a free audio book of Tom Sawyer Detective in the links below. Enjoy!

Favorite Character Poll

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Mark Twain Riverboat

A riverboat like the one that Tom and Huck would have travelled in.
A riverboat like the one that Tom and Huck would have travelled in. | Source

A Final Thought

If you think about it, Tom and Huck are very naughty boys. I've thought about this a lot from the point of view of someone who wants to be a fiction writer. Why is it that we are so drawn to characters who make bad choices? I don't think, and I've been taught this as well, that a story would be very interesting if the main character (or characters) didn't make mistakes. In writing we call this conflict.

If a character makes a mistake, then they get in trouble. Finding a solution for getting out of the trouble that they have gotten into is what makes the story. Also, we are instructed in writing courses not to preach. We are supposed to show our characters making bad choices and leave it up to the reader to see for themselves that it was indeed a bad choice without telling them so. This can be a hard thing for writers who don't want their readers to make the same mistakes as their characters.

If you were to write a story, how would you convey the idea to your readers that they shouldn't do something that your character got away with, without preaching to them?


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    • Uzair Mehr profile image

      Uzair Mehr 

      6 months ago from Gwadar

      My Favorite

    • Jaye Robinson profile image

      Jaye Robinson 

      15 months ago from Michigan

      You are absolutely right. I will revisit these characters. Been a while since I've turned the pages of Huck and Tom. Matter of fact...I will be paying my local library a visit

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 

      22 months ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I am inclined to think that Tom and Huck are the flip sides of Twain's own personality. I would say they may be mischiveous, rather than bad.Huck, seems to me, generally follows what he thinks is right, although others have deemed it wrong.

    • Eric Calderwood profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Calderwood 

      5 years ago from USA

      He was a fascinating person. Definitely one of my favorite writers.

    • cygnetbrown profile image

      Cygnet Brown 

      5 years ago from Springfield, Missouri

      One of these days I need to go up to Hannibal, MO to check out the Mark Train historical sites. I would love to learn more about Twain, his writing, and his home. Thanks for the low down on these Tom Sawyer adventures!

    • Eric Calderwood profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Calderwood 

      6 years ago from USA

      Milena, you are welcome.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      grasias por ayudrame kn esta tarea !!;*

    • Eric Calderwood profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Calderwood 

      7 years ago from USA

      Angela, your detective friend has good taste in reading!

    • Eric Calderwood profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Calderwood 

      7 years ago from USA

      Juan Garcia, Huck is pretty awesome!

    • Angela Brummer profile image

      Angela Brummer 

      7 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

      This would be the perfect gift for my friend that is a Detective that loves Tom Sawyer and reading. Thank you!

    • profile image

      Juan Garcia 

      8 years ago

      I love Huck ;)

    • Eric Calderwood profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Calderwood 

      9 years ago from USA

      Angela, yes Tom Sawyer Detective was written by Mark Twain as well as Tom Sawyer Abroad.

    • angela_michelle profile image

      Angela Michelle Schultz 

      9 years ago from United States

      is this also written by Mark Twain?

    • Eric Calderwood profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Calderwood 

      9 years ago from USA

      You are welcome, Manthy. I'm glad I could introduce it to you. Don't forget, there is a fourth book called "Tom Sawyer Abroad".

    • manthy profile image


      9 years ago from Alabama,USA

      WOW - I really liked the books Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn but I never heard of Tom Sawyer Detective, the hub has inspired me to look into getting it, I'm sure it will be a great read, I'm a Twain fan for sure so I guess I need to read it, Thanks for the hub

    • Eric Calderwood profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Calderwood 

      9 years ago from USA

      Thanks, Lee. It's a fun book to read.

    • Lee B profile image

      Lee Barton 

      9 years ago from New Mexico

      Interesting! I had not even heard of Tom Sawyer, Detective. Well written hub!


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