Last week I failed spectacularly in my duty to provide you with a full review of The Mystery of the Hidden House as I failed in my speed reading skills. So, I have had to bring it to you in two parts. It has meant that I have been able to look at the book in a greater depth. I suppose it’s given me a chance to slow down and read the text properly.
Unfortunately this puts a spin on last week’s blog. Shall we take a look?
A mystery that isn’t
So we started with the fact that, the Hiltons and the Daykins have been told they are not allowed to participate in any mysteries that come their way these hols, and so they all invent one to pull Ern Goon into trouble and make fun of him. Ern has not got the greatest brains so, we know that the others are laughing at him behind his back but when Ern accidentally stumbles on to a proper mystery in the nearby Bourne Woods (can you all make the location connection? Haha!) and the Five Find-Outers, aka mostly Fatty at this point, start to explore this new mystery involving someone called Holland.
The Hiltons and Daykins start to help by trying to find out about the people called Holland in the area, but once again are thwarted by Fatty who makes the biggest discovery, disguised as Ern. He finds out that Mr Holland is probably the man they want, because he starts at the mention of the house called Harry’s Folly in Bourne Woods. Unfortunately Fatty commits the biggest faux pas in the detective text book and tells Mr Holland his real name, and because he looks like Ern, when the bad guys catch up with the Find Outers, they end up capturing Ern. It is such a mess. We’ve got one proper mystery taking place, which is stumbled upon by accident and by the wrong person. The two become so intertwined that its frustrating to remember which clue belongs to which ‘mystery’.
It all works out in the end, but there is an overall feeling that this book is mostly about Fatty and Ern. It mostly feels as though its to prove Fatty is the main Find-Outer and with occasional help from the others can solve a mystery. He doesn’t even get told off by Inspector Jenks at the end, just gets told to grow up as fast as he can because the inspector needs a right hand man! How irresponsible is that, encouraging a child into danger just because your local copper, Clear Off Goon, is a shambles? Why not do something about Goon? I mean he’s the one who should be on top of all of these things! I know its a children’s story, but still, there is a limit to the imagination for an adult, isn’t there?
Let’s move on, there’s one more thing I want to consider before we round up!
Swatisaid – Ern Goon
Now as a child I have no qualms in saying that I would have had no patience for Ern at all. I had no patience with similar characters in the Famous Five and Malory Towers when I was growing up, mostly because the main characters were dismissive of these types of characters as well, and yes, I know it’s just the time they were living in, but still, now when I come across it in books, especially by my favourite, Enid Blyton, I wince. How could I have been so blase about attitudes like that? Sure these characters are not maybe the most fun, but they’re still people (in my head ok, but they are people!) I would never treat someone they way the Five Find-Outers treat Ern in this book. It’s appalling!
The thing is, he’s completely oblivious to it all. They lie to him, they get him into massive trouble with his uncle because Fatty wrote a rude ‘pome’ about Goon in Ern’s handwriting. It’s all really silly stuff, very childish, but its hard to read because it’s not fair on Ern, or nice to him.
As I commented in the last blog, Bet’s attitude towards Ern surprised me, because I didn’t think she would be so mean, but it does soften a little towards the end of the book, when she really realises that they’ve done wrong by him.
I’m not saying that I like Ern as a character very much, he’s clearly got a lot of lessons coming to him, but I think the way the Find-Outers treat him is rather harsh!
Did I like it?
Yes and no. I think that despite the confusing nature of the two mysteries, which then blur into one, it’s a clever plot, if not simplified and over saturated with Frederick Algeon Trotterville, but the interaction of the characters towards Ern is what really takes a lot of the liking I had for this book away. The children don’t really seem to learn anything from his kidnapping, or involvement in their fake mystery. I hope that improves and they are nicer to him next time.
What do you think of this book? Let me know in the comments!