The Secret of Terror Castle [Alfred Hitchcock and The Three Investigators #1]

Author: Robert Arthur, Jr., 1964
Genre: Children’s Literature, Mystery
Format: Ebook, 112 pages

Has it ever happened to you? You remember reading an amazing book as a child, but all you can recall is a few snippets of the plot and maybe a random character name. Such unfortunate forgetfulness happened to me with The Three Investigators series. When I was a kid my mom bought me a little omnibus containing three novels from the series, which as I discovered recently were published in a random order, ignoring any kind of chronology. I remember really enjoying them, because they contained everything a young me was so fond of in a book: spookiness, monsters and mystery. Unfortunately, one day when my mother was looking for a quick gift for my friend’s birthday, she just pulled the volume from the shelf, and so it was gone. Being chronically nostalgic by nature, I had to find the lost treasure I once loved. Thank God for Internet.

The first book in the series introduces us to the three teenage boys, who dream of being real investigators. Jupiter Jones is an intelligent, stocky boy, who assumes the leading role. He lives with his aunt and uncle – owners of a salvage yard. Jupiter is the first to come up with the investigation agency idea, and takes on a very professional approach to what looks like a child’s play when he suggests involving no other but Alfred Hitchcock himself to promote The Three Investigators. Pete Crenshaw is sporty jock with a good heart who is terribly scared of ghosts and monsters, but can always be relied on for backup. He does most of the action for the agency, often plunging (albeit reluctantly) in the next adventure. Finally, Bob Andrews, who works part-time at a local library and has a dad in newspaper business, naturally falls into a role of a researcher. In the first book, due to his leg brace, he is often left in the background to provide information and sort through clues, while the other two boys do all the legwork. Together they take on a task to investigate a local haunted mansion that Alfred Hitchcock considers for one of his new movies.

The way the story is relayed reminds me a lot of Scooby Doo cartoons, meaning it is not overly complicated (since it is oriented towards young kids) and in the end the monster is most likely to turn out to be a random guy in a mask. The perpetrator is easy to guess, and sometimes boys get in improbable situations ala Deus Ex Machina that save them from the doom. Still, I enjoyed it the way I enjoy an extra scoop of ice cream or a quick afternoon nap: I know it does no good to me, but it makes me feel nice. I sympathized with the “ghost” and got excited at the spooks in the dark. If you were the kind of a child who liked building pillow forts, going on treasure hunts in the backyard and sharing ghost stories by the campfire, give this series a chance and relive some of the memories.

3 comments

  1. The Three Investigators was always my favourite, before I jumped to the Hardy Boys series 🙂

  2. Yay! I’m glad to know others like the books too. I need to re-read Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew one of these days.

  3. Aye, let me correct you there! I don’t like them … I LOVE them ♥ ♥ …
    I just wonder why I grew up 😀

    Best wishes to you 🙂

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