The Mystery of the Spiteful Letters (The Five Find-Outers, #4)The Mystery of the Spiteful Letters by Enid Blyton

Findouters Challenge: Book 4. Quite a few detectives have had to deal with poison pens, Miss Marple in The Moving Finger included, and in this one our Findouters are faced with one out to create havoc in Peterswood. The Hiltons’ young maid nineteen-year-old Gladys is one of the first targets and being fond of her the children are eager to help. But Mrs Hilton thinks this is not a case for children to be concerned with and tries to keep them from even getting any hint of it, calling Mr Goon to the house after they have been sent away on a picnic. But Mr Goon drops a glove in the house and beginning with that clue they manage to piece together what the problem is. But this is a fairly baffling case for our findouters for, while they do manage to take a look at the letters and put together a list of suspects, there is (for much of the story) not a single clue and they seem to have to rule out most of those they have on their list. Luck favours them and with their skills they are able to beat poor Mr Goon out yet again, surprising even Mrs Hilton who is forced to admit they did a great job again.

This was in some ways different from the earlier books in the sense of the children having no clues to follow for the most part but they do employ their detective skills going about interviewing various people involved and thinking of ways to start up conversations with them without seeming too rude or nosy. They have their share of fun along the way as well, a picnic, a day at the market, fun at the stream, and of course tricking Mr Goon. Fatty once again uses his disguising skills (a-la Sherlock Holmes whom he admires) both to have fun with Mr Goon and solve the case as well, and also his knowledge of getting out of locked rooms. He has also learnt by now to imitate others’ handwriting. The solution again was not what I’d classify as the more creative ones and the motive seemed a touch weaker than the earlier books as well. I also liked that this one had characters from previous books, Lady Candling (the Hiltons’ neighbour)’s companion Miss Trimble resurfaces as a fairly important character (Little Bets still counting the number of times her pince nez fall off) pa and we also meet the Siamese cats, and their carer, Miss Harmer (all from the Mystery of the Disappearing Cat. On the foodmeter, this gets better than the previous ones but they’re still not eating as much as I remember. Another enjoyable instalment.

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