So here we go.
|Collins Hardback First Edition (printed between 1969 and 1971), cover art by Roger Hall|
Whirling around, The Three Investigators stood transfixed as a great black horse galloped towards them, its rider hidden by a black scarf and sombrero. Suddenly there was a glint of metal - and the boys saw that the cowboy’s gun was aimed straight at them…
When eerie noises are heard coming from lonely Devil Mountain, rumour blames the ghost of long-dead bandit El Diablo. Jupiter, Pete and Bob are sure there must be another explanation - until they realise that the legendary horseman really does ride again!
|This internal illustration by Roger Hall|
only appeared in the hardback editions
This is the first Three Investigator mystery not written by Robert Arthur - though he tends to get the credit in the paperbacks I’ve seen - but was actually the first book in the series by William Arden (the pseudonym of crime writer Dennis Lynds). It’s clearly in good hands though as the story is well written, clever and full of atmosphere. Arden makes great use of locations, especially Moaning Valley and its cave network and the sequence set in local town Santa Carla (an invention of Arden’s, though the name was re-used in “The Lost Boys” film) is vivid and fun with real historic figures - Father Junípero Serra and John C. Fremont - adding to the authenticity.
The mystery is sound, the boys are well portrayed and have some great moments to shine and the supporting cast of misfits, cowboys and academics all weave together well. Great fun and with a terrific pace, this is a cracking read that I’d highly recommend.
|Collins Hardback Second Edition (printed between 1973 and 1979), cover art by Roger Hall|
|left - Armada format a paperback, printed between 1972 and 1979, cover art by Peter Archer|
right - Armada format b paperback, printed between 1981 and 1983, cover art by Peter Archer
The internal illustrations for the UK edition were drawn by Roger Hall.
Thanks to Ian Regan for the artwork (you can see more at his excellent Cover Art database here)