© Estate of Kin Platt, cover art not credited.
Kin Platt wrote quite a few books for younger readers, and I’ve only read a few of them. The four I’ve read are all mysteries featuring a young man named Steve Forrester. For years I thought there were only three, then recently I saw this one listed online, and I had to order it.
Of the four, by far the best is a book titled “Sinbad and Me,” and I plan to write about it here soon. I always thought it was the first of the series, and it still is chronologically in Steve’s life, but this one is first chronologically in the author’s life, having been written first, in 1961. Oddly, Steve in the story is older than in the other books, in his late teens, and old enough to drive up from his home in Long Island to spend the summer working at his uncle’s hotel in the woods of Maine.
He’s not there long when a very strange customer shows up when only Steve is present to rent him a room. Though heavily bundled in covering clothing, Steve finds out the man’s skin is bright blue, and he seems to have an odd effect on electrical systems when near them. Steve decides the man must be an alien, an advance scout for an invasion from Mars (on not very much evidence). He tells his uncle, who confronts the man, and Steve’s uncle is struck down by the Blue Man as he makes his escape. More reckless than usual in this book, Steve decides to pursue the man in his hotrod car, a chase that leads him down the interstate highway, where Steve gets into all kinds of trouble, and is only saved from some of it by a girl he meets who seems to want to be part of the adventure. What happens when Steve tracks the Blue Man to his home in New York City makes for an exciting climax to the story.
While not coming close to “Sinbad and Me,” this book does have it’s moments. It’s not a good fit with the others in the series, really, and I think Platt rethought the character for the later books. Another thing very different about this one is, it’s very much of the 1950s, from the cars used to the language and themes, and it reminds me a bit of a low-budget science fiction/horror film rather than a typical novel for kids. I kind of like that about it. The copy I have is a paperback reprint from 1971 published by Scholastic Book Services for their in-school book club, so quite a few kids must have read it, I’d guess. I can’t help wondering if this version is abridged from the original hardcover, it seems very sparsely developed in places, but unless I ever find that version I’ll never know, I guess.
Recommended, if you can find it. No reasonable Amazon link found.
Thought you might be interested to know that Kin Platt was also a prolific cartoonist! I’ve written a bit about him here: http://teenagepaperback.blogspot.com/2011_06_01_archive.html
By the way, I’ve admired your work for years.
A friend of mine found this blog of yours concerning The Blue Man, my father’s first book. Lots I could say about your kind review, but the important thing is that YES, the Scholastic paperback you have was very abridged, and poorly so. Else you would have known that the car Steve pursues the Blue Man in was his uncle’s Hudson Hornet — a favorite of moonshiners and early NASCAR drivers.
Anyway, the family made an attempt to reprint the original Blue Man in hardcover back in 2005 — two years after my father had died. I have some copies left, and I would love for you to have one. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to email me your address I can drop a copy in the mail to you, and not only would you get to read the whole thing, but you would see the awesome cover art by Leonard Everett Fisher, who was just starting out at the time, as was my father. I found Leonard a few years ago and we became friends, and I commissioned him to make new cover art for the three Sinbad books, so if we ever packaged a boxed set of the trilogy-plus-“prequel” (Blue Man), they’d all have a familial resemblance. The website link above is the Kin Platt Facebook page I created several years ago. ZI look forward to hearing from you.