Findouters Challenge: Book 3. It’s the Christmas holiday and the children are back home again making cards and packing presents, including for their friend, Inspector Jenks. Fatty is now 13 and Bets 9, and Fatty has learnt some new and exciting detective skills (including writing in invisible ink and escaping from a locked room) in the school term, and has plenty of tricks up his sleeve. Taking over leadership of the Findouters from Larry, he is all set to practice these new skills, teach them to the others, and pull one over poor Mr Goon. (The invisible ink was great fun, and I was surprised to learn when I did a MOOC on royal food etc., that someone actually used the exact same trick to escape the Tower of London.) While “practicing” these newly learnt skills, Pip runs into an empty house to escape Mr Goon and stumbles upon a “secret” room the only one in an otherwise empty house to be well furnished and that looks lived in, and knows at once that there is a new “mystery” for the Findouters to look into. But they must also try to keep Goon from finding what they’re up to since this isn’t (as the first two books) a case that the constable is working on. They manage to outsmart the crooks yet again, and unknowingly put poor Mr Goon in an awkward position as well.
This one doesn’t quite fall into the “creative” category as far as solutions go but is the first of the books where Fatty (and the others) begin to use disguises and accents―mostly to play tricks on poor Mr Goon but which help them out in the mystery proper as well. Fatty is boastful as usual, clever for the most part, but does some rather silly, falling into the villains’ clutches as well, something one wouldn’t expect from him. Bets though nine is still child-like for her age but also the one that spots the all-important clue saving them from a pretty dangerous situation. The rating on the foodmeter is some (but only a few) notches higher than book 2, as the children tea is described and they do a little more eating. We also meet Mrs Trotteville in this one for the first time but still not Fatty’s father, but his “den” is introduced. Mr Goon is in general pretty nasty, especially with poor Buster (not so much in this one though he does kick him when he gets at his ankles), but one can’t help but feel sorry for him sometimes. This was an exciting one, far more dangerous for the children than their earlier cases, and a fun instalment in the series.