The Big Six
Bill, Pete and Joe have been falsely accused of setting boats adrift and the whole river is against them. Only Dick, Dorothea and Tom are there to stand by their friends, and they soon set to work to investigate the crimes and trap the real criminals.
Reviewed on 6th April 2012
The Big Six is Arthur Ransome's foray into writing a crime story for his Swallows and Amazons series, although neither of those groups even gets a name check. Instead this story sees Dick and Dorothea return to the Norfolk Broads - setting of the earlier story Coot Club - to reunite with Tom Dudgeon and the Death and Glories, who find themselves accused of a series of misdemeanours.
As an adult reader, I must admit that I found the story to progress a little slowly in places. The resolution seemed quite transparent (although that may be partly down to my dry sketchy memories from a previous reading some fifteen years ago). To a younger audience less familiar with the typical structure of a crime story though perhaps this might be less so.
The interesting thing about this book, amongst the series, is in its focus on Joe, Bill and Pete, the Death and Glories, who are three working class children - at odds with the middle-class background of the children that usually featured in Ransome's stories. This enables the author to have a play with dialect and accent and inject a little more local flavour. It almost seems that the trio are more approachable from a modern standpoint, as they don't have cooks to provide endless jugs of tea and plates of sandwiches.
So yes, I did enjoy this book again. I think more than I did as a child as I remember feeling that the two stories set in the Broads were weaker than the Lake District tales.