My thanks to NetGalley and Steerforth Press/Pushkin Press for a review copy of this book.
This is book 4 in Pamela Brown’s Blue Door series about a group of children, now young adults, who had set up an amateur theatre in their town of Fenchester (based on her home town of Colchester), and after training at drama school have taken their little venture professional. After running the Blue Door theatre as a repertory company for a few months with encouraging but slow results, the Blue Doors happen to come across a young man named Lucky who works his way into the company as their Box Office man when old Mr Chubb falls ill. But while he is very active and does a lot of good for the business increasing their earnings, one fine day he disappears, and with him all the money that the Blue Doors had made off their Christmas pantomime. Now, they can no longer pay off their loan, nor keep the theatre open. And their nemesis Mrs Potter-Smith is losing no opportunity to raise obstacles in their way or cast aspersions. Does this mean their dream of running a repertory company is at an end? The police don’t seem to be getting anywhere in tracing Lucky so the Blue Doors decide that it is up to them to do it. While Maddy has to return to the Academy, it is decided that the three boys with pursue Lucky while the girls will get jobs and earn enough to keep the venture going.
This was once again an exciting and fun instalment in the series. While at the start we are entirely immersed in theatre life with the Blue Doors, as they deal with day-to-day problems and with the loan that hangs over their head, to run the theatre which requires constant investment which they can’t at that moment afford. Once again, the experiences and struggles that the children have in running the theatre are very real, and while they try to handle everything as best they can, and do falter from time to time, one is still a little in awe of how they manage to run a professional company at such a young age. Once Lucky strikes, the story turns into more of an adventure as the boys begin to trace him to different places. While the chase may be fun, it isn’t easy as they must manage on what little money they have going without enough food or rest for days. The connect with the theatre remains, however, through the girls’ experiences as they get different jobs and try to help the boys as best they can. This part is very exciting reading (taking one into an Enid Blyton, Famous Five-ish story) as one sees them pick up each little clue, and follow Lucky, trying to pin him down and get back their money, and of course also makes it different from the other entries in the series. This was a fast paced, quick (I finished it pretty much in a day) and fun read which I thoroughly enjoyed (as I did the earlier books in the series). I can’t wait to see what they get upto next, though it would seem the only book left in the series focuses once again on Maddy’s adventures (like Book 2).
This book was first published in 1949 and is being republished by Pushkin Press on 23 July 2019!