The second book starts four weeks into the holidays there’s not been even a sniff of a mystery and the children are bored. To liven things up the Seven decide to dress up as Red Indians. It is agreed that Colin will be stalked as they only have six Red Indian costumes. After the usual assortment of home-made lemonade and biscuits and a lecture from Peter to Jack because his annoying sister Susie had his badge, the Seven go down to Thicket Hill.
At the hill, essentially an undergrowth of heather, bushes and trees, the children in their costumes with face paint, arrows and knives split up into groups of three. Peter with Janet and Jack are on one side of the hill, which is divided by a fence down the middle, whilst George, Pam and Barbara are on the other side. Colin is left helplessly in the middle, but to avoid being caught after Peter counted to 100, he decides to climb on to a branch of a thick tree.
Up the tree Colin gets the shock of his life as he sees a strange man sitting on and eventually jumping down from the wall of nearby Milton Manor. Peter also hears a noise near some bushes and thinking it’s Colin he goes to investigate. But to his horror Peter sees the scared face of a man who quickly makes a run for it and climbs the same tree that Colin’s in. A disbelieving Colin sits silently, not daring to sneeze, until the dark-haired man finally gets away when the other children lose patience in their search and decide to go home. After this an understandably frightened Colin pegs it back to the shed where he tells the Seven his story.
In light of Colin’s revelations at first the Seven can’t see what they can do about this mystery. Then the children, except Colin and George, are stunned to hear on the news that Lady Lucy Thomas’s magnificent pearl necklace has been stolen from her bedroom at Milton Manor. In excitement, Peter and Colin realise that they had seen the thief and call a meeting the following morning.
Following the meeting, the Seven inform a very pleased police officer that they had seen the thief. With the adventure back on the Seven race down to Milton Manor where they are let into the grounds by the gardener John. There they make some exciting discoveries. First, some unusual round holes near the oak and holly tree, the part of the wall the thief climbed. On the wall, Janet discovers a piece of blue wool with a tiny thread of red in it. To add to the excitement Scamper finds a dirty old cap. After all these sudden clues, the Seven also wonder how the thief managed to climb up the wall and what caused the holes.
The Seven suspect an acrobat could have been the only person to climb such a high wall. Their luck is compounded when they see a poster advertising a circus that happens to have clowns, stilt walkers, and of course, acrobats. In a meeting after lunch they decide to visit the circus, with the aim of identifying the thief amongst the acrobats. After paying £3 to get in the Seven are treated to a wonderful circus full of elephants, bears, stilt men and acrobats. During the circus they are convinced they have found the thief as there’s an acrobat matching the description of the thief and who could climb rope ladders. Convinced he’s the thief the Seven ask him for an autograph. To their disappointment, the acrobat takes his wig off and he is bald which rules him out as the thief!
Trincolo the acrobat is a jolly chap and offers to show the Seven around the circus the next morning. Before they leave a bear comes up to them and a sullen looking boy called Louis roughly shakes him to Janet’s horror. George, Barbara and Jack don’t want to go back as they are downbeat about the mystery, leaving the other four children to go to the circus again. Trincolo keeps to his promise and shows the four children the animals. There are elephants, lions in a cage, and of course the bear who Janet has taken a liking to. Peter, Janet, Colin and Pam have a great time and it gets even better when the four are on their way out. They pass the circus folk’s caravans, and Pam spots a blue sock with a red thread on a washing line, leading the children to suspect that the thief does live in the circus.
The children then spot small round holes similar to the ones outside Milton Manor at the front of One-Leg William’s house, but the holes turnout to be too small. They also find a coat on a man seen near the lions’ cage and it matches the cap they found. However, the most exciting clue is yet more round holes in the field next to the circus that match the holes the Seven found at Milton Manor. Enthralled, the Seven follow the holes to a caravan in the circus field. This discovery prompts Peter and Colin to watch the circus at night and to find out whether or not the magnificent pearl necklace is there. Unfortunately they choose the wrong caravan. What happens to them next? Who took the magnificent pearl necklace? It really is a mystery.
Secret Seven Adventure is the second book in the series. The plot is exciting and gripped me from start to finish. I really did share the Seven’s frustration at finding so many clues which appeared to lead nowhere. Due to this, the reader is left wondering who the thief is right until the very end of the story, adding to the excitement.
Narratively, the story follows a similar pattern to the first book in the series. In the first book Jack realises he has lost his badge in the field after building snowmen, and he goes back in the night to find a mystery. This time, the seven play Red Indians, and it is Colin’s turn to become the spotter of the adventure. Similarly, Secret Seven Adventure follows the same pattern of the children finding clues and eventually solving the mystery. Again, this follows a similar style to the Find-Outer books.
In terms of characters Colin is probably the strongest in this book as he discovers the mystery up in the tree and along with Peter goes into the caravan where the thief could very well be. Again Blyton decides to give the most dangerous part of the mystery to the boys like in the first book.
Blyton also shows her love for animals. In the first book, the reader saw her portrayal of a mistreated horse. This time Janet takes a liking to a bear in the circus, and exclaims in horror when Louis shakes the bear. Of course, most people would do exactly the same, but Janet takes a real liking to the bear and she wants to keep it as a pet at the end of the story. Janet also thinks that lions should not be in the circus. Again, Blyton seems to use the character of Janet to express her commendable views against any ill-treatment of animals.
Overall a more exciting second book but it can get a little repetitive with all the clues and the constant visits back to the shed to have S.S. meetings. I also wish the reader could be told more about the characters in the book as they are still difficult to warm to. It would help if the Seven met some other children as well in the next few books. Still, it is great to see a bunch of children continually outwit the authorities, and long may it continue in the rest of the series!
Next review: Well Done, Secret Seven