Following this, I decided to re-visit some of the books I'd missed on that second read-through, without any intention of posting reviews of them but, as if often the way, it didn't quite work out like that. Happily, this is on-going and so here's an additional review...
|Collins Hardback First Edition (printed in 1970 and never reprinted), cover art by Roger Hall|
Excitedly they searched the old chest. Jupiter was sure they would find a vital clue from the post. Suddenly Bob exclaimed: "Look! Under that purple cloth!" Before them lay a gleaming white skull...
There are surprises for The Three Investigators when they buy an antique trunk. For its spooky contents lead them on a thrilling treasure hunt - and into the middle of a sinister plot...
|illustration from the Collins/Armada editions,|
by Roger Hall
The boys meets with Chief Reynolds in his office (the
only time we see him in the whole series, I think)
This was the last Three Investigator book written by the series creator Robert Arthur (he passed away in May 1969, the year this was published) and is a fitting tribute to him. Playing on a similar, smaller canvas as his previous title, The Mystery Of The Screaming Clock, this works well and there’s a nice, nostalgic atmosphere to the whole thing. It sticks close to home - a lot of the action takes place in the Jones Junkyard - but when the book ventures into Los Angeles, it’s to the more rundown areas of the city (“…everything needed paint and repair. The few people on the street were quite old. It seemed to be a street where elderly people with small incomes lived”). This tinge of melancholy is echoed when the boys are on the trail of the money, with a house “that moves”, where Arthur bemoans the fact that old neighbourhoods are being torn down to make way for yet more freeways.
Characterisation, as ever, is spot on with some good repartee between the boys and it’s nice to see Uncle Titus play a much larger role than usual (Aunt Mathilda’s involved too). Of the supporting cast, Chief Reynolds has a good part (and a nice counterpoint in his stand-in, Lieutenant Carter, who wants nothing to do with the boys) and the criminal gang - Three-Finger Munger and his associates Leo The Knife and Babyface Benson - are played admirably straight. There’s also a nice nod to The Secret Of Terror Castle with Zelda the gypsy (though in that book, Zelda was comrade-in-arms to Gypsy Kate). As with all Arthur stories, the mystery is solid and well-thought out and although there are no Sherlock Holmes references this time, Jupiter does allude to a real book - Lord Chizelrigg's Missing Fortune, by Robert Barr - which is a nice touch. With a good pace, strong atmosphere and a wonderful use of location, this is a very enjoyable read and I’d highly recommend it.
|Armada format a paperback (printed between 1973 and 1980), cover art by Peter Archer|
(cover scan of my copy)
|Armada format b paperback (printed between 1981 and 1983), cover art by Peter Archer|
(cover scan of my copy)
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)