Findouters Challenge: Book 7. The second of the Findouters books with a “cat” in the title and theme. In this one, Goon is going away on holiday and is being replaced by a much-friendlier PC Pippin who is in every way Goon’s opposite. However, when it starts off Pippin is quite eager to please Mr Goon though he doesn’t quite believe what he has to say about the children. But Goon’s behaviour towards the children, and particularly Buster soon changes his mind. The children in the meantime have decided to make up a mystery, yet again for Pippin to “solve”―clearly not having learnt very much from their past experiences. Their “mystery” as is usual leads Pippin to stumble onto a real one, a robbery at the village pantomime. Someone has broken into the safe and stolen all that was in it. Goon’s (who is back by then) chief suspect is the pantomime cat Boysie Summers, and his friend, one of the actors Zoe (who plays Dick Whittington). And it doesn’t at all help that Boysie is somewhat slow and can be browbeaten into a confession, while the clues the children “planted” included a handkerchief with the initial “Z” as well as the cigarette ends of the brand she used, making Goon’s case stronger. So of course, it falls on the children to solve the mystery and clear their names. So starts off a new adventure where the children interview suspects and witnesses, check alibis, and of course, beat Goon to it. But this time around, only just.
This one had quite a few of the trademarks of the Findouters books with Fatty using his disguises (mostly to fool poor Goon), Bets stumbling upon the right answer in the nick of time, and quite a bit of food. In fact, on the “foodmeter”, this one rates the highest so far (plenty of sandwiches and snacks, biscuits and buns). The solution to the mystery had some obvious elements but also some creative ones so it was good fun overall. The children still come across as rather arrogant about their own skills and intelligence, believing themselves “free” to trick just about anyone, despite obvious disapproval from their parents, and Inspector Jenks. [But without their tricks of course there would be no mystery.] Still, despite this, in this one their behaviour was far better than the previous book with Ern where I felt they simply gave no thought to their actions. I enjoyed their investigation though―approaching the actors and other witnesses, checking alibis, and all in a way that children could do (and Goon certainly couldn’t), but alongside also having fun with a trip to the pantomime and a picnic as well. Overall, this was a fun instalment with an interesting mystery element.