Review: The Mystery of the Pantomime Cat


the-mystery-of-the-pantomime-cat-14I know you’ve had a lot of Five Find-Outers and Dog reviews recently, but I’ve had the books on my library card for a while now, and thought it was about time I got round to reading them. As I had an eight hour journey back from Dundee I thought that was the perfect time to get on and read them. I mean what else was I going to do on a train for eight hours?! So I packed my bag with the book and knew that at least I wouldn’t be bored on the train.  So let’s take a look at what this FFO has in store for us!


Goon on holiday

Like the last book, we start the story at the train station, where Larry, Daisy, Pip and Bets are waiting for Fatty, and they spot Mr Goon there as well.  Mr Goon is about to go on holiday and the new constable, P.C Pippin (who is still a bit wet behind the ears), is brought over to Petersfield to take his place while he is on holiday. Both Fatty and P.C. Pippin are on the same train but do not meet until they leave the train.

Mr Goon then decides to tell Pippin what he thinks of the five children and Buster. This rather shocks P.C Pippin because Inspector Jenks has spoken so highly of them, and Mr Goon is saying nothing but horrible things, warning Pippin away from them. Pippin is a little in awe of Mr Goon to begin with, so he takes the warning to heart and doesn’t allow himself to anything to do with the children.

Mr Goon goes off on his holiday and the Find-Outers decide that as they’re not in pursuit of a mystery they’re going to make one up for P.C Pippin. Hmm, haven’t we seen this storyline before? Could Blyton be going a little stale with her ideas, a little bit like she did in the middle of the Famous Five series? We have literally only just had an FFO book start off with a false mystery to start.

Like Ern in Hidden House Pippin is completely taken in by the false clues, the red headed gentlemen in the village and the mysterious ‘ruffians’ (Larry and Fatty all dressed up!). Pippin doesn’t stand a chance as the children set about that the bad guys are meeting around the back of the local theatre. Unluckily for the children this puts Pippin right in front of a real crime as it happens – the manager of the theatre gets knocked out and his safe broken into. Naturally this brings Goon running back in the hope of solving the mystery before Fatty and the gang, but he unfortunately uses the ‘clues’ that the children dropped for Pippin in their fake mystery. I think if you weren’t convinced that Goon was a fool by now, you should know it by this book. He did exactly the same thing with Ern in the last book, and seemingly hasn’t learnt from his mistakes. What a idjit!

Been there, read that, solved the mystery!

I’m going to be honest here, when we were introduced to all of the suspects, and the two characters that Mr Goon thought were the culprits of the crime, I knew it was a double buff. I knew straight away that the person dressed up as a cat was not the person acting the cat in the stage show. Boysie is a singularly slow boy but utterly devoted to his life in the theatre and to Zoe Markham, the lead in the Dick Whittington show the theatre are performing over the Easter holidays.

Goon thinks that because Boysie is slow and stupid, he would do anything for Zoe and so they must have committed the crime together. However the children befriend Zoe and Boysie and know this deep down to be untrue, but alas, they are unable to prove it.

It begins to look like the mystery that got away from them, until one of Bets’ little innocent remarks gives Fatty’s brain a boost. Again, how many more times have we had this scene from Enid Blyton? I know that children reading the books would probably not mind in the slightest, but for a grown up reading the book, it’s obvious way before Bets’ comment. Fatty then races around, getting information from P.C. Pippin and then asking  to be driven over to see Inspector Jenks and solve the mystery. Huzzah Fatty and his friends have done it again. Whatever will happen next?

All about Fatty

Oh my Blyton! If the Famous Five books had been so centred on Julian, or George for example, people wouldn’t like them nearly half as much, so why is it different for Fatty? I do not understand why people love his character, he drives me nuts! He is such a know-it-all, too-good-to-be-true, marty-stu who can never do anything wrong and must be worshipped by all. It drives me insane. At least with Julian and George they recognise their faults, but Fatty? No. Someone please tell me he gets his comeuppance soon and the rest of the FFO get a fair chance in the mysteries? I just don’t like him! Sorry but it’s true!

Thoughts

I preferred this book to Hidden House by miles, possibly because I’m much better acquainted to the world of theatre than that of mysteries, and had the answer been much more devilish, I would have really ranked it highly. Unfortunately using the same plot at the beginning of the novel rather ruins it, especially so close to the last time that trick was used. If they were a few books apart I could have forgiven it, because as we know, Blyton wrote a phenomenal amount of words a day/week/month/year and some errors were bound to slip in, but back to back same plot device just doesn’t sit right.

I liked the way P.C. Pippin was well placed to see the crime taking place and immediately be on the scene, and it’s book’s saving grace that the main story takes off quickly and in Blyton’s excellent style, but the format of the beginning and the end feels old and tired. I just hope that The Mystery of the Invisible Thief  has a better start and finish. A proper detective novel!

Oh well, I can live in hope!

What do you think of The Mystery of the Pantomime Cat? Have I been too harsh? Let me know in the comments.

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5 Responses to Review: The Mystery of the Pantomime Cat

  1. chrissie777 says:

    Everybody reads this book with a different point of view I guess. I was in my early twenties when I read this for the first time and at that point was quite excited to discover a “new” book series by EB (I only had read FF and Adventure series before).

    For me “Pantomime Cat” is a lot better than “Disappearing Cat”, “Invisible Thief”, “Spiteful Letters” or “Vanished Prince”, but it doesn’t come close to “Tally-Ho Cottage”, “Secret Room”, “Missing Man” and “Hidden House” (my 4 favorites).
    When I read it the first time, I was fascinated by the scenes with the pantomime cat. That was something new.

    Like

  2. Francis says:

    Yes it is neither the best or worst of these books – I am definitely a Famous Five man!
    Regards, Francis

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    • chrissie777 says:

      Same here, Francis :).
      For me there are much more good FF & Adventure sequels than FFO & Dog volumes. Plus the FF/Adventure settings are much more exciting with underground passages, a sunken ship, castles, caves and treasures to find. I prefer adventures to detective work.
      Yes, I like Peterswood, it certainly has it’s charm, but I do find Kirrin Bay and it’s surrounding area (up to “Secret Trail”) much more compelling.
      Just my 2 cents.

      Like

  3. Dale Vincero, Brisbane, Australia says:

    “Pantomime Cat” is going to be the next book I will be reading after I finish Hidden House.
    Thanks again Stef for introducing me to this series.

    Like

  4. jillslawit says:

    I think Goon is slow and stupid to think folk who are slow and stupid must be the crooks. I sussed early on that Zoe and Boysie had nothing to do with this, and that the cat costume was the obvious disguise for the real baddie. Predictable, yep, but still enjoyed the book.

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