29/10/2005

The Mystery of the Spiteful Letters

Yes. Amongst more adult novels and serious reading, I have sneaked in some Enid Blyton books. She was a remarkable person and it's almost entirely due to her writing that I became such an enthusiastic reader. Oh, I can see now that her books were clich├ęd, sometimes racist, definitely classist, and undoubtedly not Good Literature. But I loved them as a child, re-read them many times, and still dip in occasionally when I have an hour or two available and need something ultra-light.

This book is one of a series of around 15, about the Five Find-Outers and Buster the dog. I was never all that keen on the better-known Famous Five series, but used to love the Find-Outers' mystery series. We've recently brought a lot of children's books out from the UK, and some of them were lying around just waiting to be read...

The story revolves around some nasty anonymous letters that have been sent to various people in the village. Mr Goon the policeman is trying to investigate without the children interfering, but they find out what the problem is, and - of course - solve the mystery satisfactorily. It's quite a good story, although I remembered easily 'whodunnit', despite not having read this book for probably twenty years or more. It's not particularly well-written, but it appealed to me and my friends in the 1960s, and probably still appeals to children today despite being rather old-fashioned now.

I don't much like the way poor Mr Goon is treated - he's not exactly a kind person, but the children are very unpleasant to him and often get away with teasing him, and otherwise being pretty nasy. But I don't really think that gives children a poor idea of the police force; there are other policemen in the books who are fair and generally nice people. There's even a moral lesson about the nastiness of anonymous letters in general.

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