The Secret Seven are enjoying a meeting in the trademark shed of Peter and Janet’s back garden a few days before bonfire night. Nibbling away at staple Enid Blyton favourites such as chocolate biscuits, apples, ginger buns, doughnuts, peppermint rock, hazelnuts and nutcrackers, the seven children are enjoying a feast in their well-lit shed, powered by an oil stove, with flower pots and boxes for the children to sit on. Suddenly the annoying Susie knocks on the door of the hideout and correctly shouts the password ‘Guy Fawkes’ much to the dismay of the Seven. Cue a quarrel which leaves poor Jack (Susie’s brother) red in the face after it emerges that utterances in his sleep have led to Susie finding out the password.
However, the excitement and Susie’s slyness are not to end there. Late to the meeting, Colin bursts in with an exciting tale about how he had overheard men quarrelling in the bushes on his journey down. In all the kerfuffle he dropped his torch on the pavement near the bushes and bravely went to pick it up only to discover the men had gone when he flashed it on. But to the joy of all the Seven Colin had found a notebook which contained notes about stolen items from a famous cricketer, and a place where the alleged thieves would meet up to discuss their plan.
Thinking they are in on another adventure, the Seven arrange to travel to the old workmen’s shed at the back of Lane’s garage where the gang are due to meet. Following their arrival, the Seven noticing a light on, creep up to the shed and hear a number of terrifying bangs. Bewildered, Peter peeps through the letterbox and to his astonishment sees Susie and her friends banging paper bags. The angry Seven demand the laughing Susie and her friends come out of the shed, but they only agree after Susie threatens to tell their whole school if the Seven pulled her hair.
In despair, Peter and Janet go to see their mother’s old nanny Mrs Penton the next day. After an enjoyable afternoon of cream buns and chocolate éclairs, their father picks them up, taking them to station where he has to collect some parcels. It is here that the adventure of this book starts. Bored and tired, Peter and Janet are about to doze off when two men creep into either side of their dad’s car and drive off. Sensing the fact his dad’s car has been stolen, Peter tells a frightened Janet to crouch down so the two men can not see the two children. Eventually, the two men stop in a part of town that the children do not know, before the driver tells his companion to get in touch with Q8061 about meeting at Sid’s place at five o’clock in the evening.
Scared but excited, Peter and Janet manage to find a phone box where their shocked dad picks them up. However, their dad does not want to phone the police about the two thieves, meaning it is left to the children to catch the pair.
The next day, Peter and Janet tell the rest of the Seven about the drama the previous day, thrilled, they all agree to search for clues. First, the Seven try Peter and Janet’s dads’ car where, to her delight, Janet finds a spectacle case with a note for ‘Briggs. Renning 2150.’ Jack also finds a button which had fallen off a mac. In light of this, the children search for the address in a telephone directory and find that Mr H.E.J. Briggs lives at Little Hill, Raynes Road, Renning. To their disappointment, this person turns out to be a friend of Peter and Janet’s dad.
Soon things get worse for the Seven when they decide to build a guy for bonfire night in Colin’s summerhouse. Sadly, Scamper comes bursting in to see the children, only to knock a lit candle on to the straw and hay needed to build the guy. Consequently, a fire destroys the guy and burns some of Colin’s summerhouse.
The distraught children are now mourning over their lack of progress in the adventure and the burning of their guy. But a bright idea from Jack involves Peter dressing up as a guy outside Sid’s cafe to be a look-out for the two men who stole his dad’s car turns the adventure for the better. There you have it, Peter ends up dressing as a guy, a wonderful one too with his old pair of patched trousers, great big boots, scarf, big old hat and a wig made of black wool. Down he goes with George, Colin and Jack to the cafe in a wheelbarrow and it is here where the mystery will start. Will Peter and the rest of the boys spot the two men? Will the Secret Seven find out what Q8061 is? Does the button belong to the coats of one of the men? You can only find out by reading this book!
I enjoyed reading this book as I was really taken in by Susie and her friends trick on the Secret Seven. I was convinced that the children were in on another mystery so to find out that it was all a hoax was a surprise. Blyton’s idea to dress Peter up as a guy was fantastic and made for a compelling story. It was clever how she managed to link the bonfire night theme with the narrative for this book. I just hoped that Peter would find the two men and it’s good to see a guy being made use of rather than to be burnt again!
Next review: Secret Seven Win Through
Well done, Ben. It makes me want to reread the Secret Seven once more.
My main memory of this book was Peter telling Pam that he used to think she wasn’t as good a member of the Seven as the others. Pam is also very much The Chick (well, she and Barbara are Those Two Girls) of the group. I felt terrible that Peter was openly insulting her. Well, it was a backhanded compliment in context, but still.
As I remember it, the fire started by Scamper knocking over the candle destroyed their collection of fireworks. They hadn’t started building the guy yet.