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Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

The Mystery of the Strange Messages (The 5 Find-outers) - Enid Blyton

The Mystery of the Strange Messages (The 5 Find-outers)

Author: Enid Blyton
Book title: The Mystery of the Strange Messages (The 5 Find-outers)
ISBN: 000693207X
ISBN13: 978-0006932079
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers (January 29, 1988)
Language: English
Category: Mystery
Rating: 4.1/5
Votes: 238
Pages: 144 pages
More formats: rtf mobi azw mbr

Part of the "Rewards" series covering a range of Enid Blyton's work from her stories for the very young, such as the adventures of "Brer Rabbit" and "Amelia Jane", to stories for older children including the "Malory Towers" books. This book follows the adventures of the Five Find-Outers.
Reviews: (3)
I first came upon this series at the age twelve and enjoyed it immensely. Now I am past thirty and I still enjoy every bit of the book to my surprise. It was my childhood dream to own this series and now the final book arrived and am as thrilled as a child.
Fatty is the same old boastful boy wonder and old clear orf is as stupid as ever. I think I love this series more than the ever famous famous five or the secret seven. The rural setting and the line up of funny characters(Fatty, Goon, Ern, Eunice etc etc) was what attracted me to this most. Some day I want my children to enjoy them as much as I did.
Funny and full of suspense
Series Review:

Out of all Enid Blyton's many mystery series, "The Famous Five" (made up of Julian, George, Dick, Anne and Timmy the dog) are certainly the most well-known, whereas "The Five Find-Outers" are virtually unknown. However, there are some interesting similarities and differences between the two groups, and though there are certainly some faults to "The Five Find-Outers" series, they should not be discounted completely. The name "The Five Find-Outers" is rather silly, but children themselves think it is too (Bets thought it up in the first book, and though they mocked the name, it stuck) and as always there is an element of sexism in the novels (if there is exciting night-time activities to be done, the girls are invariably left at home), but the mysteries themselves are interesting without being too simplistic or too difficult. A mystery is established, clues are carefully considered, suspects are drawn up and discarded through a process of elimination and quick-minded young readers will enjoy the logical process of uncovering the mystery - and perhaps get the thrill of figuring out the solution before the characters do. I well remember feeling exhilaration at guessing the location of the diamonds, or the identity of the criminal, or the whereabouts of the hideaway, or whatever the McGuffin of the particular book was before its completion.

"The Famous Five" all had separate personalities, all contributing something different to the group: Julian was the leader, George was the vivacious tomboy, Anne was the little housekeeper, and Dick was...well, perhaps Dick was a little bland. But on the whole, the children could be enjoyed as individuals and worked together as a team. The same cannot be said of "The Five Find-Outers", which perhaps was part of the reason this series were neither as distinctive nor as popular as "The Famous Five". Instead, the Find-Outers revolved around one core character, Frederick "Fatty" Trotteville, who was more intelligent, more interesting and more colourful than the other four children put together. Indeed the characters of Larry, Daisy, Pip and Bets are hardly relevant, they exist simply as sounding-boards to Fatty's genius and one could argue that the books could have easily been written with the other four children removed entirely from the picture.

Yet at the same time, the lack of character interest in the other children is practically made up for in the figure of Fatty. As robust as his nickname would suggest, Fatty is every child's dream. He can disguise himself into any individual he pleases, is fluent in French, gifted at ventriloquism and storytelling, can spout verses off the top of his head, always has plenty of money and impeccable manners, and has a mind worthy of a young Sherlock Holmes. As one friend says of him; he is accidentally good at most things. In short, he is a fantastic character, and one can only wish that we were like him in some way. The fact that he is not some chiselled boy-model makes him even more extraordinary. When faced with a new mystery (which conveniently pops up in every book), he takes charge of the other children much like a police officer organises his troops in order to solve the crime logically, intelligently and efficiently.

This is of particular note since one reoccurring conceit in all the books is the presence of the local policeman Mr Goon, an aptly-named bullish oaf who despises Fatty and is forever attempting to thwart his attempts at solving the various mysteries they come up against. Given the resources he has at hand Goon certainly has the upper hand, but a major appeal of the book is the fact that Fatty always comes up trumps, embarrassing Goon in the process. The rivalry between them is constantly amusing (though to an older reader, perhaps repetitive) as is Fatty's beloved Scottie-dog Buster's loathing of Goon. By the time Police-Inspector Jenks turns up at the end of every book, any young reader will be anticipating the denouncement of the mystery by a triumphant Fatty and a humiliated Goon.

Book Review:

Mr Goon is very frustrated indeed after receiving several notes, created from cut-out newspaper print and stuck on unmarked paper. The messages themselves are equally baffling, ("Turn him out of the Ivies", "Ask Smith what his real name is" and "Call yourself a policeman? Better go and see Smith") as is the way in which they are appearing - found by the housekeeper in the strangest places, without any sign of whose placing them there.

Of course, he knows whose behind them - Fatty and his friends, home from school for the holidays. Marching over to his house, he confronts the Five, who of course have no idea what he's talking about. They take it upon themselves to uncover the meaning behind the messages, and are soon scouring the neighbourhood for ivy-covered houses inhabited by Smiths. Where is the Ivies? Who are the Smiths? Whose sending the notes? Why do they want the Smiths turned out? Fatty is determined to answer these questions, and puts the Five on the case.

However, Goon soon catches on that the Five aren't responsible and employs the help of his young nephew Ern (who has appeared in previous books) to watch the house for the mystery letter-writer - who as usual is treated cruelly by his uncle. When both investigations merge at an ivy-covered house called Fairlin Hall, Fatty and Goon's differing treatment of the inhabitants becomes of utmost importance, displaying the importance of kindness in the uncovering of the mystery.

Ending with a kidnapping, hidden diamonds and another victory for Fatty, "The Mystery of the Strange Messages" is one of the best in "The Five Find-Outers" series.
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