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The Mystery of the Hidden House (1948)

by Enid Blyton

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356157,566 (3.81)2
Where could Mr Goon's nephew have disappeared to? Mr Goon has forbidden the Five Find-Outers from solving mysteries - so they decide to make one up for his nephew, Ern! But what will happen when Ern disappears, and their pretend mystery turns into a real one?
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In this sixth entry in her fifteen-book Five Find-Outers and Dog series, originally published in 1948, Enid Blyton returns to the story of Fatty, Larry, Daisy, Pip and Bets, who (together with Buster the dog) spend their school-breaks solving mysteries. When Pip and Bets, and Larry and Daisy, are all forbidden to "look for mysteries" by their respective parents, it seems as if the children will pass a very boring holiday. But the arrival of Ern, nephew to Peterswood's very own police bobby, Mr. Goon, provides an unexpected source of amusement. As the Find-Outers set out to lead Ern (and Mr. Goon) into a fake mystery, they are surprised to discover that they have stumbled onto a real one...

Read as part of an ongoing project to familiarize myself with the work of Enid Blyton, who, despite being virtually unknown here in the United States, is the sixth most popular author in the world, The Mystery of the Hidden House was very much in the style of the preceding five books in the Five Find-Outers series. The writing is somewhat choppy, and the plot shallow and conveniently resolved, but it "reads" quickly, and will appeal to young fans of series-work.

That said, although I have erred on the side of generosity with the previous books, awarding them between two and a half and three stars, I opted for the two-star rating here. This sixth title has all the flaws and virtues of the others, but it also has a much stronger dose of classism, in the characterization of Ern. Notions of class are never entirely absent from the series, as witnessed by the contrast between the slow-witted Mr. Goon and the friendly, "high-up" Inspector Jenks. Even the sympathetic working-class characters - whether it's under-gardener Luke in The Mystery of the Disappearing Cat, or maid Gladys in The Mystery of the Spiteful Letters - are depicted as somewhat simple. But the centrality of Ern to the plot here means that the reader has the "simplicity" of the working class before her eyes continuously. Reading about how Fatty and the other Find-Outers made fun of Ern's pronunciation, or giggled at his stupidity, soon grew tiresome. ( )
  AbigailAdams26 | Jul 11, 2013 |
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Where could Mr Goon's nephew have disappeared to? Mr Goon has forbidden the Five Find-Outers from solving mysteries - so they decide to make one up for his nephew, Ern! But what will happen when Ern disappears, and their pretend mystery turns into a real one?

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