So here we go.
|Collins Hardback First Edition (printed in 1973 and never reprinted ), cover art by Roger Hall|
(note Bob's tassled waistcoat!)
The Three Investigators stole across the shadowy patio. Jupiter held a held aside and looked into the dining room.
Then they heard the sound. It was faint at first - a soft throbbing. A singing sound, yet in no way was it a song. It was high and piercing, then a low murmur. It wavered - then burst forth in hideous gurgling waves.
The Three Investigators listened in mounting panic.
|Collins Hardback Second Edition (1975-1978)|
which appears to have as its spine image
Pete falling off the wall at Torrente Canyon
This is the second M. V. Carey entry in the series and it’s one of my very favourite stories, as the boys team up with the fiercely strong and independent Allie Jamison (who would re-appear in Carey’s The Mystery Of Death Trap Mine). Allie's Aunt Pat is an odd type who’s a member of the “Fellowship of the Lower Circle”, along with Hugo Ariel. Allie is very suspicious of him and his motives and gets the boys to investigate. At the Jamison's home (hiding on the patio, surrounded by wisteria), they witness one of the ritual meetings, where the cult invokes the power of Belial, who appears in smoke as a serpent that sings a hideous song (and this is very well described, making for an eerie scene).
There are some great set pieces - breaking and entering the butlers flat (the first time I think Jupe deliberately breaks the law) and the bombing of the deli - but the key one is when the foursome infiltrate the cult’s mansion on Torrente Canyon. Gripping and tense, with a real sense of location and some great descriptions, this works brilliantly. Helping the overall tone of the book is that a lot of the action takes place at twilight or after dark and there’s a real sense of adventure to it. There are also some nice observations about why people join cults and the power of belief that are sharply written and in keeping with future Carey stories, where she touches upon real phenomenon and deals with it effectively.
Following a conversation with Aunt Mathilda and Uncle Titus, it transpires that Miss Osborne collects movie memorabilia - this drives her element of the plot - and she remembers Jupe from his Baby Fatso days, which doesn’t please him. “The world’s youngest has-been,” said Pete with a smile. In fact, there’s quite a bit of humour and Pete has a good role (often to the detriment of Bob, unfortunately), as he develops a good, protective but bickering relationship with Allie. Worthington also has a good-sized role and proves his mettle once more and there’s clever work to involve the business card and question marks into the story (since Allie doesn’t need to see them).
Great fun, a cracking read, with well developed characterisation and a pace that never flags, this is highly recommended.
|Armada format A paperback, printed between 1976 and 1980, cover art by Peter Archer.|
There was no format B edition.
Thanks to Ian Regan for the artwork (you can see more at his excellent Cover Art database here)