Last year I ordered the books in some of Blyton’s biggest series into favourites. I did The Famous Five, The Adventure Series, The Secret Series, Malory Towers and The Barney Mysteries. I have now realised that I missed the Five Find-Outers. I probably chose to skip this one at the time because I am not quite so familiar with this series, and being a longer one that makes it even harder but I’m ready to have a go at it now!
For ease I have split them into three groups (and posts) – top, middling, and bottom. That doesn’t mean I don’t like the ones at the bottom, it just means I like them less than the ones at the top. Interestingly, but perhaps not surprisingly out of the seven books I didn’t read as a child four are in the bottom group, one is in the middle and one in the top. But which ones are those? You’ll have to read on to find out.
My top Five Find-Outers books
1. The Mystery of the Invisible Thief
What can I say, I just love this one. I love the obsession the Find-Outers suddenly develop with large shoes, to the point of prostrating themselves on the ground to check the shoe’s soles while they’re being worn. The mystery is baffling – who has such large hands and feet, and WHY on earth are they leaving mucky prints everywhere? There is also the joy of Goon attempting to disguise himself (hard with those eyes and that figure!) and the enjoyable accidental solving of the mystery thanks to Pip’s joke.
2. The Mystery of the Spiteful Letters
I know that this isn’t on most people’s favourites list, but I really like it. I enjoy a good whodunit. This is the first book where Fatty does his red-headed boys routine and it’s so funny to see Goon perplexed and angry at the telegraph boy and butcher’s boy when it’s all Fatty. I think they do some great detective work in this book with collecting handwriting samples etc. Yes there’s luck in their supposition about the person taking the bus to Sheepsale but it’s not a wild guess and they do examine their several suspects in great detail.
3. The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage
This, oddly enough, is one of the ones I didn’t read as a child. I say odd as it’s unusual for me to start part-way through a series. Anyway, usually the first book in a series is one of the strongest maybe it has something to do with introducing a cast of characters and the world they live in? Anyway, this is a strong book as it has a solid mystery, it has good suspects (including ones you just have to dislike – who’s nastier, Mr Hicks or Mr Smellie?) and good detective work about the trains and aeroplanes.
4. The Mystery of the Missing Man
This is, perhaps, not the strongest of the mysteries. It’s not a weak one, having said that. It is exciting as there’s a dangerous escaped criminal on the loose, who is a master of disguise and could be anyone. The reveal of who he is isn’t amazing but reasonably surprising. However, I particularly enjoy the book as there’s so much humour to be found in Eunice bothering Fatty to the point that he takes up jogging to avoid her. I also like the flea-circus and coleopterist settings as they’re a bit different.
5. The Mystery of the Strange Messages
I like this one as the messages are truly strange. Turn him out of the Ivies (what or where is the Ivies?), ask Smith what his real name is. Better go and see Smith. Just who is Smith? Mr Goon is at his foolish best as he assumes these messages are a joke from Fatty and co, and angrily gives them ‘back’ to the Find-Outers. That gives them lots of investigating to do with not a lot to go on. Unfortunately Goon also works enough out to go and give Smith an undeserved hard time, and the story moves from a mystery to the Find-Outers trying to help the Smiths.
So there are my top five. Some controversial choices, perhaps. What would your top five look like?