So here we go.
|Collins Hardback First edition (printed between 1971 and 1973 ), cover art by Roger Hall
A weird mystery intrigues The Three Investigators when Carson's Carnival comes to town, for they soon find that someone is out to destroy the funfair and its owner. With a bizarre toy cat as their only clue to the enemy, the boys set out on a deadly manhunt...
|interior artwork by Roger Hall shows Andy,
from the carnival, being shown
This is another terrific entry, combining a deceptively simple plot with some really good set pieces, logical detection and plenty of intrigue along the way. After setting things up in the first chapter, the story takes off and whips along, featuring bad luck, a reverse-disguise, carny-life, a human fly, a bank robbery and remnants of the past along the way. There’s great use of the abandoned amusement park and it’s desolation and spookiness is remarkably well conveyed (especially during a tense and suspenseful moonlit pursuit). The book also has an element of Robert Arthur style pathos to it, about the waning carnival life and people wanting someting for nothing, which is a nice touch.
This also marks the introduction of the tracking devices (put to good use) and features several characters saying “The Jones Salvage Yard has everything!”, which I thought was cool. If the ending is perhaps a little simplistic (though it does have the villain say “I’d have got away except for those stupid kids!” - this was published in 1970, Scooby Doo started in 1969), it still works and doesn’t detract from what is otherwise a gripping read and one I highly recommend.
|The Armada editions show completely different aspects of the story (art by Peter Archer)
format A (left) printed between 1973 and 1980, format B (right) printed between 1982 and 1983
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)