I was recently moved to suggest that The Secret of Hangman’s Inn (1956), the sixth title in the Ken Holt series by husband-and-wife team Bruce Campbell, was the point at which that series found its feet and jumped to life. Today I’m going to promulgate that The Mystery of the Hidden House (1948), the sixth title in the Five Find-Outers series by one-woman publishing sensation Enid Blyton, is the point where this series finds its feet and jumps to life. Coincidence? Yes, undoubtedly.
In the most recent episode of our podcast, I mentioned how Agatha Christie’s The Moving Finger (1942) was the book which made me appreciate how threatening a poison pen campaign could actually be. And four years after Christie used the conceit to drive a town mad, surprise Crime Writers’ Association member Enid Blyton made it the background for some childhood japes. What fun!
My discovery of Enid Blyton’s Five Find-Outers books simply adds to the problem that is my TBR, because every time I read one of them I want to sit down and read them all. Sure, First World Problems, but it’s crazy to think how excited I am — and my fourth decade, too — about a bunch of books written by the Faraway Tree Lady.
There’s clearly a Sophomore Clause for youthful detection collectives: Must Involve a Missing Animal. The Three Investigators sought a stuttering parrot, and now the Five Find-Outers are herding cats having solved a case of arson first time out.
January, month of rebirth and self-recrimination. For every resolution to improve there must be some frank assessment of what debilitated you in the first place, and so the month can take on a curiously Jekyll-and-Hyde aspect for some. So my Tuesday posts for this month will be a mixture of what is good and bad in my reading, and where better to start than a celebration of the previous 12 months?
No discussion of children’s literature is complete without at least a passing reference to the 14,762 books Enid Blyton wrote in her career. Somehow I’d heard of this one and its implied impossible disappearance, and it seemed perfect for my Tuesday posts in November on precisely this type of book. Generally you know what to expect from Blyton — a poorly-dated whiff of imperialism, comfortable middle-class adventures, ginger beer — but prepare for a bit of a shock: the rigour of the detection in this is something to behold.