The Adventures Of The Black Hand Gang, a combination of story and illustration, was published in weekly chapters, the solution to the week’s riddle given in the next edition. Press was one of the inventors of "Wimmelbild", a genre of illustration where the picture was deliberately overcrowded with detail, to entertain children as they searched for certain items. His books have been translated into more than sixty languages and his son, Julian - also an author and illustrator - not only looks after his literary estate but publishes similar mystery stories. H. J. Press passed away on 19th October 2002.
I originally wrote about The Black Hand Gang in a Nostalgic For My Childhood post in 2013 (you can read it here, it’s been quite popular) but as a recap, the book contains four adventures - The Mysterious House (featuring a forger), The Treasure In Breezy Lake (the gang help solve a burglary), The Smuggler’s Tunnel (the gang go to stay with Ralph’s Uncle Paul and stumble across a drug smuggling ring) and A Theft At The Zoo (featuring the hunt for stolen animals).
The Black Hand Gang made its headquarters at 49 Canal Street, “at the top of the house, up seventy-two creaking stairs” and their clubroom was called the ‘Airport’. Meeting regularly after school, the gang comprises: “Frank, who played the trumpet, was the leader; then there was quick-witted Angela; Ralph, who usually wore a striped sweater; and lastly Keith W.S. and his inseparable companion , a squirrel (W.S. stands for With Squirrel). Well known locally as amateur sleuths”, their friend is Police Sergeant Shorthouse.
From The Mysterious House:
|What was Mr X doing?|
|What was the stamp called?|
|look at that detail!|
|What had Fraser thrown into the lake?|
|Which door did Angela mean? (clue - the police are looking for the baddie and think they've checked everywhere)|
From The Smugglers' Tunnel:
|What was the substance in the cubes?|
From A Theft At The Zoo:
|How did the thief take the key?|
In case you're interested, there's a Facebook group dedicated to the book, moderated by Gavin Worby, which can be found at this link.