Cover art by Jack Hearne.
An avid reader as a child, I got into series books for a while, with favorites being “The Hardy Boys” and “Tom Swift.” In my early teens I gradually came to see how formulaic and repetitive they were, and mostly stopped reading them. I never tried this series, “Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators,” which began seeing print in 1964, right around the time I was losing interest in series books, but I’ve heard good things about them over the years, and at a book sale a few months ago picked this one up to try it.
I wasn’t expecting a lot, and found it surprisingly entertaining. Yes, the characters are not given a lot of room, it’s a plot-driven story, but the writing is good enough that I felt I got to know and like the three investigators, Jupiter, Pete and Bob, as well as their extended family and helpers. The mystery involves a woman who collects rare mirrors, including the one pictured, which is supposed to have an evil curse on it, and perhaps contain ghosts. Then there’s the man who seems desperate to buy it from her at any cost, and another man who’s trying to steal it. It’s a good yarn, and a good mystery, with quite a few twists and turns and exciting moments, even though there is a cocoon of protective feeling around the boys; I never thought they’d come to serious harm.
The post-script, where the boys report to Alfred H. himself, is the only part that seems phony and tacked on, and I suspect that even as a kid I wouldn’t have believed it. Otherwise, this was fun, and I might try more. No way to tell how formulaic the books are from one, so that remains to be seen.
The Three Investigators books were my childhood series addiction, and no, the Hitchcock parts never quite rang true even to my young mind. If I recall correctly, at some point the series became simply “The Three Investigators” but I was never clear whether they lost the rights to use the Hitchcock name or simply decided they could afford to do without it once the series was properly launched. I’ve never been tempted to revisit the books, but it’s good to hear that at least this one largely held up to adult perusal.
M. V. Carey is a comic book writer: Mary Carey, who was credited on the early 1980s “Clash of the Titans” adaptation and before that adapted a number of movies anonymously for “Walt Disney Showcase” at Gold Key.
Interesting. Wonder if she is any relation to Mike Carey?
This was my favorite series as a kid–I even built my own Three investigators clubhouse amid the stacks of boxes in the rabbit warren we called our basement–at least until Mom and Dad cleaned it out in during The Great Purge.
I’m really glad you’re reviewing all these old kid’s books, Todd. They conjure up memories of my hometown’s summer reading program for kids and the children’s library (now sadly defunct) we simply called “The Branch.”