Robert Arthur - Shastrix Books

Robert Arthur

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The Mystery of the Talking Skull

The Mystery of the Talking Skull

Robert Arthur

2nd February 2016

The eleventh Three Investigators story begins with the youngsters attending an auction of left luggage, where they obtain an old magicians case rumoured to contain his star trick - a skull which speaks.

As T3I stories go, it's fairly run if the mill, with all the usual ingredients - spooky mysteries, gangs of baddies, slightly racist stereotypes, hidden passageways and being caught.

There's nothing much to criticise, but also not a lot to make it stand out against a backdrop of the previous ten books, and so it's difficult to say a lot about. Generally the story stands the test of time, assuming the reader can appreciate that it is a product of its era and that the detectives do not have the advantages of modern conveniences.

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The Mystery of the Screaming Clock

The Mystery of the Screaming Clock

Robert Arthur

11th February 2015

I had abandoned my Three Investigators re-read over a year ago when relocating, and in the interim started re-reading my original Hardy Boys series, so it was a pleasant treat to dive back into this world of hidden junkyard bases and unusual props - this time of course in the form of a screaming clock that carries an initial clue.

What I like about T3I is that they really do investigate and solve mysteries with more than the power of coincidence. There are real clues which they solve with real legwork and a strong set of supporting characters.

Although I have read this before, I had completely forgotten the entire plot and so very much enjoyed revisiting it. There was even one complete surprise that I hope turns into something in the future of the series.

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The Mystery of the Silver Spider

The Mystery of the Silver Spider

Robert Arthur

4th July 2014

The Silver Spider is the eighth adventure for the Three Investigators, and sees the teenage detectives called to a small European country to visit the local prince, who has a case for them.

Despite the slightly unbelievable setup, the author manages to pull it off well, and the reader is carried along well - I don't recall from reading as a child that there was ever a question in my mind about whether this would ever really happen (or about the language barrier).

My one real criticism would be that it's very much an adventure - there's not really a lot of mystery going on - but all the classic three investigators ingredients are there, baddies, allies, secret tunnels, capture, escape etc.

Another good entertaining tale in a series that I can still enjoy today almost as much as I did as a youngster, aided by my only remembering one (albeit key) plot point.

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The Mystery of the Fiery Eye

The Mystery of the Fiery Eye

Robert Arthur

15th April 2014

This is one of the Three Investigators mysteries that I remember in most detail from when I originally read it (possibly many times) as a child. Re-reading it now I found many aspects familiar, but some things didn't quite go how I expected.

The three teens, exhibiting slightly less personality than before this point in the series, are called in by Alfred Hitchcock to help a young English boy locate his mystery inheritance. The plot has some interesting and at times educational twists, but I felt it moved slowly and didn't keep me gripped. The ending in particular felt rushed and unsatisfying.

Overall I was disappointed that this wasn't the great adventure that I remembered - it now seems one of the weakest in the series up to this point in my re-reading.

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The Secret of Skeleton Island

The Secret of Skeleton Island

Robert Arthur

31st December 2013

In a change from their adventures up to this point, the Three Investigators are sent away to investigate who is stealing things from a movie location at the seaside. The location gives a sense of scale that the regular novels have lacked, but it also means that we miss out on the usual trappings of the series - the Rolls Royce car, the secret base and its many entrances, and the regular guest cast.

There's a little casual racism that feels out of place for a modern reader, but it is challenged within the narrative and actually feels quite forward-thinking compared to some books aimed at an adult readership written in the 1960s.

This entry in the series feels shorter than some of the others, and the investigation doesn't seem to flow as well, though the story does work and the reader is able to follow and work out what's going on along with the characters, which is always the mark of a good mystery story.

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The Mystery of the Vanishing Treasure

The Mystery of the Vanishing Treasure

Robert Arthur

21st July 2013

Book five, and the Three Investigators are not only witness to a jewel theft, but sent a mystery by Alfred Hitchcock - to investigate gnome sightings in California.

I remember the cover image from reading this book in my school library, but the plot as I re-read it as an adult didn't ring any bells, and it was great to read a story in the series again without knowing where it was going.

The action is plausible, and the plot believable, which I always think is a bonus in a children's book - it shows that mysteries can be solved with the application of a little brain power and that the supernatural normally has an explanation (in fact, this one reminded me a little of Scooby Doo in that respect).

An excellent mystery which I've really enjoyed.

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The Mystery of the Green Ghost

The Mystery of the Green Ghost

Robert Arthur

19th February 2013

The fourth adventure for the Three Investigators, young teenage detectives in 1960s California, is the creepiest of the series so far, introducing one of the themes more solidly that will run throughout the series.

When Pete and Bob witness the appearance of a green ghost in an old house, it sets the trio off on their most wide-ranging adventure yet. In fact this was a little surprising, as until now the team has been portrayed as rather a low-cost outfit, but they now are hired to fly off on their own as part of the plot, which seemed a little implausible.

The creepiness, particularly of the opening chapters, and the threat levels later on may scare some younger readers, and some of the dated stereotypes might not be what some parents want their children to read today. On the whole though its a good mystery and adventure that feels much more like the formula I remember settling into place.

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Other reviewed books

The Mystery of the Whispering Mummy
The Mystery of the Stuttering Parrot
The Secret of Terror Castle

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