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Johnny Powers

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Welcome to Strangeday Hall, kid. I'm Johnny Powers
~ Johnny greets Nick Diamond

Johnny Powers is a major antagonist in Anthony Horowitz's novel Public Enemy Number Two. He is fifteen, yet he is a psychopath. He is one of many gangsters selling stolen goods to the Fence, the real antagonist of the story.

Origins

In the words of Chief Inspector Snape, Powers started "young," in that he burned down his kindergaten, which implies he was born evil. By the time he was thirteen, he was the leader of one of the most feared gangs in London. As a joke, they called themselves "the Catapult Kids" even though they used shotguns. The shotguns were sawn-off, and Snape remarks that Powers was so insane he even stole the saw.

He orchestrated his first theft when he was fourteen. Powers broke into a convenience store and walked out with four crates of Mars Bars and a bottle of Lucozade, which shows his confidence and cunning. Unsurprisngly, his antisocial behaviour made him Public Enemy Number One. As a young kid, he lived with his mother, Ma Powers, whom he idolized. She herself was a mob boss. Eventually, Powers' luck turned downhill and he was arrested and sent to a juvenile detention center, Strangeday Hall, outside London.


Meeting Nick Diamond

Powers and his cellmate often argued, and one night Powers decided to silence his cellmate by cutting him into tiny pieces and throwing him out the window, a piece at a time. His next cellmate was Nick Diamond, brother of hopeless private eye Tim Diamond (real name Herbert Simple). Nick had been framed by none other than Inspector Snape himself because Snape wanted Nick to learn the Fence's real name and he believed that Johnny Powers had been about to sell his stolen goods to the Fence, and thus would befriend Nick and maybe give him the Fence's name. As soon as Nick arrived, Powers was openly hostile at him, saying he had killed his former cellmate. When Snape arrived to brief Nick, Powers was immediately suspicious, because he wondered if Nick was an agent of the cops. That night, Nick tried to get the name of the Fence out of Johnny, but Johnny Powers, as suspicious as ever, refused to say anything other than "Button it."

In the weeks that followed, Nick found Johnny Powers one day being beaten up by three gangsters who were prison inmates, who were agents of local crime kingpin Big Ed, who owned south London. Big Ed wanted to kill Ma Powers and her son and conquer east London, so therefore he had agents in the prison to do in Johnny Powers. Nick managed to save Johnny by blinding and burning all the gangsters with boiling hot water, and then Johnny Powers immediately warmed to Nick.


Escape from prison

Johnny Powers had visits from his contact, who told him the crime gang were going to arrange for him to break out of prison. Johnny had one problem, as his driver, Nails Nathan, was sick. So Johnny Powers asked Nick if his brother could drive. When Nick hesitated, Johnny threatened to kill Tim if Nick didn't agree. So Nick said he'd tell his brother... in code. Johnny Powers wanted Tim to be at Heathrow, terminal two, at eleven o'clock that night. Nick tried to tell Tim in code as best as he could (there were guards stationed in the room) and he desperately hoped Tim got the message. Tim did get the message, but could barely drive the airport bus him and Ma Powers had stolen from Heathrow. Just in time, Tim showed up as Johnny arranged a daring escape from the prison and took potshots at the guards before throwing himself off the ledge with Nick onto the airport bus, which had cushions and mattresses on its roof. After a high-speed chase through the motorway, causing loads of destruction and chaos, Johnny Powers and his mother took out all the police chasing them, seemingly killing Snape, who had arrived to rescue Nick.


Back in the hood

As soon as Nick, Johnny Powers, his mother and Tim had arrived at east London, in Wapping, Johnny Powers went off to meet the Fence after learning he was still Public Enemy Number One and Nick, therefore, was Public Enemy Number Two after his escape. Johnny Powers went down to the Underground to meet the Fence, and Nick followed him, but was confused, thinking Johnny was getting a train. Nick had already overheard Johnny and his mother talking and believed the Fence was female after hearing the name "Penelope." Nick was captured by Big Ed's gang after losing Johnny in the railway, and Big Ed chained him up to the railway tracks and left him to be mown down by the trains for vengeance upon thwarting his plans. Nick was saved by Snape who turned up in disguise to rescue him. Afterwards, Nick got vengeance on Big Ed and his gang by burning them alive in their carriage.

Johnny had met the Fence and returned home with weapons, but was suspicious when Nick wasn't there. He questioned Tim, but Tim, being hopeless, couldn't invent the right answers. So Johnny tied Tim up into a chair and put a time bomb set for one o'clock and left Tim sitting there waiting for his death. Nick had escaped the police and sheltered with his French teacher Peregrine Palis, who dropped him off at Johnny's the next morning. Nick decided not to use the doorbell (he knew Johnny never would reply) and climbed in through the window instead. This turned out to be a wise move, for the doorbell was the detonation switch for the bomb. Nick managed to defuse the bomb in time to save Tim and deactivated the bomb.

When Nick and Tim went back to the Underground, they found the Fence's lair, but when Tim found the Purple Peacock vase, the vase the British museum had entrusted him to find, he alerted Johnny Powers to their location. Johnny Powers was furious for Nick working with the cops and he tried to kill him, saying he was no longer his friend, but tied up Nick and Tim rather than kill them, threatening that the Fence would do just that. What Johnny Powers had overlooked was Nick's rucksack, which had the bomb in it. Nick freed himself and Tim and used the bomb to break out of their prison, blowing up the labyrinthine tunnels under the Thames and causing the Thames to pour in. Gangsters tried to mow them down but the gangsters were swept away by the Thames. Johnny Powers tried to kill Nick but he was interrupted by the arrival of Inspector Snape. A moment later a whole tonne of cement fell down, blocking Johnny from view. Nick, Tim and Snape escaped on an elevator which led to a houseboat on the Thames.


Death?

Although Nick assumed Johnny Powers died, he had a feeling Johnny escaped. He comments that there was a news report of two Japanese tourists who got mugged and stripped of clothes, ID and money. Nick reckons Johnny Powers and Nails Nathan were responsible and escaped to Japan under false identities, possibly to join the Japanese criminal underworld. If so, Nick hopes they stay there.


Personality

Johnny Powers was a psychopath from an early age. His psychiatrists are too frightened to speak to him, as they know how insane he is. He was antisocial from a young age and only stuck around gangsters and criminals - however he had disputes with them too, as he hated Big Ed. He did love his mother, but only because of her crime skills. He had no family ties, as he sold his grandmother to the Arabian salt mines. He also hated order, as Inspector Snape said that he absolutely hated policemen.

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