Ash Ketchum, Pokémon Detective

Ash Ketchum, Pokémon Detective
Ash Ketchum Pokémon Detective cover.png
ISBN: 0439200946
Published: March 2001
Publisher: Scholastic
Author: Tracey West
Preceded By: Go West, Young Ash
Succeeded By: Prepare for Trouble

Ash Ketchum, Pokémon Detective by Tracey West is the eighteenth book of the adaptation of the Pokémon anime. It was published by Scholastic and is 90 pages in length.


Ash, Go! Is a Pokémon lost, missing, or acting strange? Ash Ketchum, Pokémon P.I., is on the case. With the help of his friends and trusty sidekick, Pikachu, Ash is solving mysteries involving some brand-new Pokémon like Hoothoot, Spinarak, and Stantler.


Spoiler warning: this article may contain major plot or ending details.

This book follows the plots of the anime episodes Illusion Confusion!, Spinarak Attack!, and The Little Big Horn.

While on their way to Violet City, Ash and his friends get lost in the middle of a deep forest. While the others complain about the situation, Ash tells them to follow him, saying their troubles will be over in no time. Despite his optimism, the group is still unable to get out of the forest and Misty becomes increasingly frustrated. As the night settles in, eerie sounds echo from the trees, which appear to gain menacing faces. Frightened by this, the trio runs to another part of the forest. Once again, however, they are confronted with the same trees every way they turn. As they flee, a Hoothoot appears and uses Foresight, returning everything to normal.

Bewildered, the trio stops to catch their breath. Suddenly, Gary emerges from the trees and tells them that everything they saw and heard was an illusion and commends Hoothoot on a job well done. After scanning Hoothoot with his Pokédex, Ash is mocked by Gary for being unprepared. Gary advises his rival to get a Hoothoot if he wishes to make it out of the forest. Confused, Misty asks Gary why he is still in the forest if he has a Hoothoot. Gary tells her that he has been busy catching Pokémon and lost track of the time. After Gary departs, Ash and his friends search for a Hoothoot, but their efforts are in vain.

Out of nowhere, a Hoothoot appears at Misty's feet. When Ash approaches it, Hoothoot attacks him and runs off. The trio gives chase until they are led to a stone pillar with an image of Hoothoot engraved on it. After Misty remarks on how creepy the place is, an old woman steps out from behind the pillar, insulted. Ash, believing her to be another illusion, instructs Pikachu to use Thunder Shock. Pikachu hesitates, unsure if she is an illusion. The old woman then walks up to Ash and pulls his ear, demonstrating that she is not an illusion.

The old woman introduces herself as Hagatha. She tells the trio that they will need her help if they want to get out of the forest safely. Back at her house, Hagatha explains that she rents out Hoothoot to people traveling through the forest, as they have the ability to see past the illusions. Unfortunately, she only has one left, and it has never guided a single traveler safely through the forest before, so Hagatha offers to house them for the night so they can wait for the other Hoothoot guides to return. Not wanting to wait until the following morning, Ash holds his hand out to Hoothoot, saying that all it needs is a good Trainer like himself. Hoothoot ignores Ash and jumps onto Misty's lap, nuzzling and staring lovingly at her. Hagatha explains this Hoothoot only gets along with pretty girls. Ash comments that there aren't any pretty girls around, causing Misty to protest. Brock asks Hagatha what causes the illusions in the forest, and she replies that it is "something of a mystery." Ash claims that he and his friends are great at solving mysteries, and Hagatha wishes them luck as they depart into the forest.

As Hoothoot leads Ash and his friends deeper into the woods, it starts to tremble as blue will-o-wisps begin to appear around them. Ash asks Hoothoot to help, but it doesn't listen. However, when Misty asks, it attempts to use Foresight, but to no avail. The will-o-wisps combine to create a ghoulish face that cackles as the terrified Hoothoot runs off, followed shortly by Ash and his friends.

Upon reaching safety, Ash asks Hoothoot why it left them behind. Misty lashes out at Ash for getting them even more lost than before with something out to get them. As Ash reminds her that the phantoms in the forest are just illusions and can't hurt them, a rope makes its way around Pikachu, and the Electric-type is lifted into the trees. Ash grabs Pikachu, causing the both of them to be pulled up. To no one's surprise, waiting at the end of the rope is Team Rocket, and after announcing their arrival and reeling Ash and Pikachu up to them, they slam Ash into a tree. Meowth locks Pikachu in an insulated box, and the trio begins their escape on a wooden rowboat along a line of ropes and pulleys spanning the forest. However, the ropes break, Team Rocket falls to the ground, and the lid to Pikachu's cage pops open, allowing it to dash back into Ash's arms. Jessie and James send out Arbok and Victreebel, respectively, while Ash calls out Bulbasaur.

However, before Bulbasaur can do anything, Hoothoot starts to shake just as before. Suddenly, a Dragonite appears and Team Rocket gives chase. Ash and the others cannot see it, and Brock concludes that Team Rocket must have seen an illusion. Just then, Ash and his friends find themselves surrounded by multiple copies of Ash. Misty asks Pikachu if it can tell which Ash is the real one. Ash calls out to Pikachu, but so do all of the illusions. As the illusory Ash copies surround an increasingly confused Pikachu, it responds by shocking all of them, destroying the illusions and zapping the real Ash, who praises Pikachu. Misty shrieks as a number of Bug Pokémon surround her, Ash's reminder that her assailants are only illusions offering her little solace as she calls out for Hoothoot. Ash turns to see the Hoothoot running away, but he intervenes and convinces it to help Misty. Hoothoot uses its moves, dispelling the illusions around Misty. She thanks Hoothoot as Ash notices its new air of strength and confidence. Hoothoot then turns its gaze to the treetops, revealing a number of Haunter and Gengar hiding among them. The group quickly realizes that the Ghost Pokémon are behind the nightmarish illusions. Ash commands Bulbasaur hit the Ghosts with Vine Whip, knocking them out of the trees, then he commands Pikachu to hit the falling Ghosts with Thunderbolt, sending them flying deep into the forest.

Ash claims that his training is what got Hoothoot to help them, but it responds by pecking him. As it returns to Misty's side, she reminds him that he didn't actually train it at all and that Hoothoot just wanted to help her. Ash tries to save face by saying that at least the three of them had solved the mystery of the illusions, but Brock shoots him down by saying that was also all Hoothoot. Ash then thanks Hoothoot for its help and asks it to guide them through the forest. After Misty assures it that it is a real guide now, Hoothoot happily agrees to guide them. An hour later, they reach safety and get some rest, then say goodbye to Hoothoot as they set off for Cattailia City, a small town on the way to Violet City, the next morning.

It is not long before Ash and his friends arrive at Cattailia City. Brock is about to take a rest on a wooden bench when a patrol car speeds down the street, and he gives chase, deducing that Officer Jenny must be inside. However, a few seconds later, he trips over a thin web, allowing Ash and Misty to catch up with him. Just then, Togepi notices something approaching, after which a Spinarak drops down from above. Not recognizing it as a Bug type at first, Misty reaches out to touch it, but the Spinarak then spins around and Misty recoils in fear. The Spinarak then encases them in a ball of sticky thread.

Ash and his friends are then approached by Officer Jenny and two other policemen. One of the two tells Jenny that Spinarak has caught the thieves they were looking for, but Jenny says that the kids do not look like master thieves. The officers set Ash and his friends free and bring them back to the police station to ask them some questions. Jenny explains that the webs they got stuck in were laid as traps to catch a thief imitating the The Black Arachnid, a master thief that had traveled the world with his Meowth, who used Pay Day to deter anyone who tried to catch them. She holds out what appears to be a silver coin with "Pay Day" written on it. (This is actually one of James's bottle caps.) Ash asks how Spinarak factors into the story, and Jenny says that her great-grandmother used Spinarak's webs to catch the original Black Arachnid. Jenny then says she hopes she catches the imitator soon so they can figure out who he is, calling his identity "a real mystery."

Ash perks up at the mention of a mystery and offers to help Jenny solve it. Jenny notices Pikachu and Togepi and asks the trio if they are the Pokémon burglary investigators her sister from New Bark Town told them about, which Brock affirms. Brock then asks why the police force don't use Growlithe, and Jenny explains that since her great-grandmother used Spinarak to capture the Black Arachnid, it has become tradition to use Spinarak in Cattailia City. An officer then runs into the station with a letter, which proclaims The Black Arachnid is planning to steal a rare silver trophy at midnight.

They go to the mansion of the trophy's owner, Mr. Miser, who begs Officer Jenny to help him protect his most prized possession. At Jenny's request, he brings everyone to his treasure room, where the trophy is the centerpiece of a large collection of statues and figures made of crystal, glass, and marble. Ash vows not to let anything happen to the trophy, prompting Mr. Miser to ask Jenny who the kids accompanying her are. Ash responds that they are Pokémon burglary investigators (a title he is happy to accept) and tells Mr. Miser he may have heard of their adventures in New Bark Town. This does not reassure him. What does reassure him is Jenny saying that she and Spinarak will oversee everything and stop the Black Arachnid.

Ash goes out to mansion's lawn and sends out Squirtle, Bulbasaur, Charizard, and Heracross. Jenny is impressed by Ash's varied team and says she shouldn't have expected less from professional burglary investigators. This comment exasperates Misty, who mutters that their "professional investigators" schtick is going a little too far. Ash orders his Pokémon to hide and stand guard; Spinarak creates webs around the perimeter; and Jenny, Ash, and his friends remain inside the mayor's mansion, standing guard at the entrances, with Mr. Miser in the treasure room guarding the trophy itself.

When midnight hits, however, The Black Arachnid doesn't show up. Believing the threat has passed, Mr. Miser comes into the hall to thank Jenny, Ash, and his friends. Ash begins to congratulate himself on a job well done when a panel in the ceiling slides to the side and a shower of silver "coins" tumbles out. Team Rocket, dressed in black, then descends from ceiling down a rope. Ash immediately recognizes them and asks how they got in, and they explain that they hid in the attic all day, allowing them to evade the traps. He then asks why they didn't show up at midnight, and Meowth admits that they fell asleep.

Pikachu prepares to attack, but Meowth calls Pay Day, and Ash and co. brace themselves for impact, but the impact never comes. James tries to wheedle his way out of using "Pay Day," but is forcefully persuaded by Jessie to do so anyway. Misty picks up one of the "coins" James threw and realizes they are just bottle caps, and James says they're his prized collection and asks them to give them back later. Ash mocks Team Rocket for their pathetic imitation of the Black Arachnid, but Team Rocket reveals that they already have the trophy and escape through the ceiling after mocking the protagonists' poor investigative skills.

Ash runs outside, hoping to apprehend Team Rocket as they flee in their Meowth balloon, and the others follow him. They see Spinarak spinning a web around the balloon's basket, stopping the balloon. The trio pulls out three large hand fans to try to get the balloon moving again, but before they can get far, Ash mobilizes his Pokémon. Squirtle's Water Gun knocks the fans out of Team Rocket's hands, and Bulbasaur's Razor Leaf slices the balloon open so it starts losing air. This allows Charizard to burn the web with a Flamethrower, causing the balloon to spin out of control. Mr. Miser then cries out for his trophy, so Spinarak then shoots a stream of web to stop the balloon from flying off with Team Rocket's loot. Charizard flies up to the balloon and starts shaking it out, first pouring out James's bottle caps, then the various other treasures Team Rocket had stolen, then finally the silver trophy. Ash's Pokémon catch the other valuables as Ash dives to catch the trophy, which bounces off of his back and into Officer Jenny's arms. Charizard shakes the balloon one more time, causing Team Rocket to blast off.

As Jenny returns the trophy to Mr. Miser, he thanks Ash and his friends for their work, saying that they really are professionals. Ash happily accepts the compliment. Misty tries to deflect by saying that it was Spinarak who really saved the day, but Jenny says that she and Spinarak couldn't have done it without the help of Ash and his friends. A lovestruck Brock runs up to Jenny and asks her if there is anything else they can help her with, but Ash gets between them and tells Brock they have to leave. Brock is saddened, and Misty consoles him by saying they'll probably be helping out another Officer Jenny before he knows it.

After leaving Cattailia City, Ash and his friends arrive in a large city with a large park in the middle. As they walk through the park to reach the city's Pokémon Center. Ash remarks on how peaceful the place is and turns to Pikachu for confirmation, only to see that Pikachu is alarmed by something in the nearby bushes. Ash and Misty see what appear to be eyes looking out from over the bushes, but realize they are antlers after Brock encourages them to take a closer look. The bushes rustle as the rest of the Pokémon's head pokes out, and Ash uses his Pokédex to identify it as a Stantler.

Brock approaches it by mimicking classic Stantler behaviors, then notices that its knee is hurt. To try and get the Stantler to trust him so he can treat the wound, he offers it food. However, Stantler is hesitant, and produces a white vapor from its antlers. A herd of angry Stantler suddenly appears behind the baby Stantler and charges at the trio, forcing them to flee. As the herd is about to overtake them, the sounds of the stampede suddenly stop, and Ash and his friends turn around to see that the stampeding herd has vanished without a trace, and the baby Stantler has also disappeared.

As the trio wonder what happened to both the herd and the injured baby, Officer Jenny approaches them and tells them she has been receiving similar reports of a stampeding Stantler herd chasing people out of the park for the past week, but the police haven't been able to find the herd anywhere. Ash says it sounds like a mystery, and Brock, lovestruck again, immediately offers the trio's services as "professional Pokémon mystery solvers" to find the herd, much to Misty's chagrin. Jenny takes them back to her office to file a report. She informs them that the Stantler herd has been scaring away all the vacationing families that usually fill up the park. Misty wonders what Stantler, who live in the mountains, are doing in a city park, and Brock notes that the park neither looks big enough to support a whole herd of Stantler nor did the vegetation have any signs that Stantler were feeding on it.

But as Brock is piecing together what is happening, they hear loud screams from outside and find Team Rocket running down the street screaming, as though being chased. They skid to a stop in front of Jenny and beg her to help them escape the herd of Stantler chasing them. Brock asks where they are and James says the Stantler are right behind them, but they turn around to see a calm, quiet street, to everyone's confusion. Meowth then spots the baby Stantler limping down the street. Jessie pulls out a Poké Ball to catch it and bring it to Giovanni, but the Stantler emits the white vapor again, and a herd of Stantler appears at the end of the street and charge at the police station.

Team Rocket flees, and Jenny urges Ash and his friends to get back into the police station for safety. Ash and Misty run inside, but Brock remains outside and stands in the middle of the street. He ignores his friends' pleas to run and stands his ground, trying to convince the baby Stantler to trust him. As the stampede gets closer and closer, Ash tries to jump out and save Brock, but Officer Jenny holds him back. The herd of Stantler goes right through Brock, and Ash and Misty are amazed as the illusions begin to fade.

Brock brings the Stantler inside the police station and bandages its wounded front leg and explains that he figured out that the herd was an illusion created by the baby Stantler. Jenny asks Brock how he kept his cool; he replies that he noticed that the Stantler were going right through buildings. The baby Stantler falls asleep as Brock explains that it was scared from being lost and alone in the park and created the illusory herd to protect itself. Ash tells Brock they should get Stantler back to its family right away, but Brock thinks it is best if it gets a good night's sleep first.

The next day, Officer Jenny leads the trio out of town on a trail to the mountains. After reaching the mountainside, Brock releases Stantler into the forest. However, Stantler is hesitant, and nudges Brock to show its affection. Brock steps back and yells at Stantler to leave; the Big Horn Pokémon sadly does so. As Ash and his friends return to the city, Pikachu stops and points to the sky. Ash, Brock, and Misty turn back and are shocked to see Team Rocket's balloon in the distance. They realize that Stantler is in danger, and Brock takes off back up the trail, followed by Ash, Pikachu, and Misty. They soon encounter Team Rocket's giant robotic Stantler, which has the baby Stantler caught in a net dangling from its mouth. Stantler struggles and covers the robot's head with its white vapor, but to no avail, as James brags that it can't fool a metal machine with illusions. Brock jumps up to grab the net, but misses. Meowth presses a red button on its remote control, and the robotic Stantler spits out metal rods that surround and trap Brock. However, Brock knocks the rods down and sends out Onix to destroy the mecha. Brock celebrates his success, but Ash notices that Team Rocket still has Stantler, whose net is now dangling from their balloon. He orders Pikachu to use Thunderbolt on Team Rocket, but it misses because the balloon is too high up. He then calls out Bulbasaur to try to grab the balloon with Vine Whip, but it also fails to reach. Just then, a herd of real adult Stantler appear on a mountain ledge. The largest of them leaps up, rips open the net holding Stantler, and tears a hole in Team Rocket's balloon. Ash's Bulbasaur catches the falling Stantler with Vine Whip and lowers it gently to the ground.

Team Rocket crash-lands in the forest, and they run away into the woods. Meanwhile, Brock and his friends watch on as Stantler returns to its family, and the reunited herd treks back to their mountain home. Misty says she is exhausted from all the action, Brock agrees that their journey has been interesting and wonders what awaits them in Violet City, and Ash says it's a mystery to him.

Major events


Pokémon debuts





  • Cattailia City is actually called "Catallia City" in the anime.
  • This book was included in Scholastic's 2021 Pokémon Super Special Chapter Book Collection. It is featured alongside I Choose You! in Super Special Flip Book #4.


In other languages

Pokémon anime novelizations
Original series: I Choose You!Island of the Giant PokémonAttack of the Prehistoric PokémonNight in the Haunted Tower
Team Rocket Blasts Off!Charizard, Go!Splashdown in Cerulean CityReturn of the Squirtle Squad
Orange Islands: Journey to the Orange IslandsSecret of the Pink PokémonThe Four-Star ChallengeScyther, Heart of a Champion
Race to DangerTalent ShowdownPsyduck Ducks OutThundershock in Pummelo Stadium
The Johto Journeys: Go West, Young AshAsh Ketchum, Pokémon DetectivePrepare for TroubleBattle for the Zephyr Badge
The Chikorita ChallengeAll Fired UpAsh to the RescueSecrets of the GS BallPrize Pokémon
Teaming Up With TotodileTough EnoughWinner Takes All
Advanced Generation: Haunted!Phantom UnmaskedTeam Rocket TruceCelebi RescueGrovyle TroubleDeoxys in Danger
Diamond & Pearl: Pokémon AcademyThe Lost RioluCoal Badge BattleWorld of Sinnoh
Movies: The Art of Pokémon The First MovieThe Art of Pokémon the Movie 2000The Art of Pokémon the Movie 3: Spell of the Unown
Mewtwo Strikes BackMewtwo ReturnsPokémon the Movie 2000Pokémon the Movie 3Pokémon 4Ever
Destiny DeoxysLucario and the Mystery of MewPokémon Ranger and the Temple of the SeaThe Rise of Darkrai
Pikachu's VacationPikachu's Rescue AdventurePikachu and Pichu
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