Childrens - Shastrix Books


Recently reviewed

The Mystery of the Nervous Lion

The Mystery of the Nervous Lion

Nick West

6th October 2021

In their sixteenth adventure the Three Investigators are put in touch with a local animal handler to investigate his lion.

It’s a pretty standard story for the series, with the team facing peril, but lacks some of the more interesting horror aspects, or intriguing mysteries like we saw in the previous story.

Nothing to criticise really apart from the almost total absence of female characters. But also nothing to write home about.

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Buy book: UK
The Mystery of the Flaming Footprints

The Mystery of the Flaming Footprints

M. V. Carey

5th October 2021

The fifteenth Three Investigators mystery is a really good one. Written in the early 1970s, it took me a moment to work out the timeline, as it refers back to events in the 1920s, which now feels beyond living memory, but would not have been so at the time.

Despite its age, and target audience, the book has a couple of strong feminist moments (although there are very few female characters), and feels generally more progressive than the Hardy Boys stories of the same era. It feels like there’s decent representation of a couple of neuro-atypical characters too which feels really impressive for the book’s age.

The plot focusses on an eccentric customer of the Jones junk yard, who vanished one day while talking to Jupiter. It felt a very natural set-up, and the investigation for the most part feels professional and believable.

One of the best in the series and one I’ve really enjoyed revisiting.

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Buy book: UK
The Outlaw's Silver

The Outlaw's Silver

Franklin W Dixon

7th August 2021

Book 67, and the Hardy brothers are dragged into a slightly confusing set of overlapping mysteries to the extent that it was hard to remember what’s what.

Particularly at the start of the story, the narrative flow felt off, and I found myself having to turn back a page and check what was going on because I had missed something.

One of the most interesting points covered in this story is that it places the boys home town of Bayport north of the Pine Barrens in New Jersey, which is the most specific I think the stories have come to being explicit about where it is.

Overall though, confusing and forgettable. But the last of the initial run of Digest stories that I read as a child - so next up are 11 stories that (unless I read them from the library) are entirely new to me.

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The Vanishing Thieves

The Vanishing Thieves

Franklin W Dixon

7th August 2021

Hardy Boys adventure 66 sees a visit by Chet’s cousin lead the brothers and their friend into my one but four separate cases, taking them on a trip to Los Angeles.

The book feels pretty standard for the early 80s formula, although high on violence and peril. I’ve noticed that the boys are much more inclined now to break laws themselves in the course of their investigations, and I counted five incidents of unlawful entry in this novel.

Overall I think it’s a mediocre plot, nothing hugely exciting or memorable. It’s certainly the case that I don’t recall this one from when I read it as a child.

There are several sexist moments to the narrative that would hopefully be avoided in a modern story, and what appears to be potentially a racist illustration in my copy. That said, likely the most noticeable thing that would be implausible to a modern child would be the total absence of mobile telephones.

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The Stone Idol

The Stone Idol

Franklin W Dixon

31st July 2021

This early 1980s Hardy Boys novel sees the brothers hired to investigate the theft of a small state originating from Easter Island.

In many ways, it fits the mould of the series, with the boys going off on exotic travels, helping out their father, and adopting offensive amounts of disguise as natives from other cultures.

But in others it doesn't - there are elements here which feel quite unique and like the author has put in some effort to deliberately avoid hat have become liches of the series.

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The Mystery of Smugglers Cove

The Mystery of Smugglers Cove

Franklin W Dixon

4th July 2021

In a 1980s story with a title reminiscent of much earlier books in the Hardy Boys series, the brothers get to travel to Florida, investigating the theft of a valuable painting.

Unlike many of the books, this one focusses almost exclusively on the plot, with minimal mention of the characters’ lives outside that, to the extent of being one of the only books in which Chet doesn’t have a wild new hobby. This also has the side effect of making the narrative less problematic to a modern reader.

The plot however feels a bit messy - there seem to be three different things going on and they are all mashed together into one, similar to the two-plot situation in the previous novel, The Mummy Case, so maybe that will become a trend through the 80s novels to come.

That said, it was also more readable than some of the previous novels, and I had no problems digesting five chapters at a time, and the whole book over the course of a couple of days.

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

J K Rowling

31st May 2021

Somehow it turns out that I must have only read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows twice before - on original publication in 2007 and again pretty soon after in 2008, before I started logging all my reading. I found this really surprising when I realised, and so decided I needed to dive back in again.

It’s a really good adventure. All the things I thought I wouldn’t like turned out to be fine, and possibly just a misremembering based on the film version. The pacing is good, and thematically fits with the characters and the events taking place.

There are so many little moments that I’d totally forgotten about. Little references, or jokes, just things that help to lighten the mood of what is in places quite a dark tale. And some of the classic Rowling foreshadowing. The aspects of Dumbledore which weren’t made explicit until later actually come across really obviously now, and I can’t believe I didn’t see them the first time.

I’m really glad I paid another visit to this novel, and I look forward to my next re-read, probably sooner than another 13 years away.

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Other reviewed books

The Mummy Case
Good Work, Secret Seven
The Apeman's Secret
Go Ahead, Secret Seven
The Pentagon Spy
The Mystery of the Samurai Sword
Night of the Werewolf
The Firebird Rocket
The Jungle Pyramid
The Masked Monkey
The Secret Agent on Flight 101
The Viking Symbol Mystery
The Mystery of the Desert Giant
The Mystery of the Coughing Dragon
Jennings Unlimited
The Mystery of the Chinese Junk
Secret Seven on the Trail
The Mystery at Devil's Paw
Well Done, Secret Seven
The Ghost at Skeleton Rock
Secret Seven Adventure
The Clue in the Embers
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The Secret Seven
The Hooded Hawk Mystery
The Yellow Feather Mystery
The Mystery of Banshee Towers
The Secret of Wildcat Swamp
The Wailing Siren Mystery
The Mystery of Holly Lane
The Mystery of the Strange Messages
The Short-Wave Mystery
The Mystery of the Missing Man
The Secret of the Crooked Cat
The Clue of the Broken Blade
Five Children and It
Especially Jennings
Brigands M.C.
The Mystery of the Laughing Shadow
The Disappearing Floor
The Mystery of Tally-Ho Cottage
Jennings of Course
The Twisted Claw
The Falls
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
The Mystery of the Talking Skull
The General
The Mystery of the Moaning Cave
The Mystery of the Strange Bundle
The Sleepwalker
The Mystery of the Screaming Clock
The Mystery of the Vanished Prince
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Mad Dogs
The Tower Treasure
The Mystery of the Silver Spider
The Mystery of the Invisible Thief
The Fall
Don't Touch Anything
The Mystery of the Fiery Eye
Crocodile Tears
Man vs Beast
The Mystery of the Pantomime Cat
The Secret of Skeleton Island
The Wide Window
Divine Madness
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
The Mystery of the Hidden House
The Accused
The Mystery of the Vanishing Treasure
The Reptile Room
Ark Angel
The Rithmatist
The Mystery of the Missing Necklace
The Field Guide
Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief
The Mystery of the Green Ghost
Coots in the North and other stories
The Killing
The Abduction
The Mystery of the Spiteful Letters
The Mystery of the Whispering Mummy
Eagle Strike
The Mystery of the Secret Room
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Maximum Security
Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia
Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener's Bones
Great Northern?
The Mystery of the Stuttering Parrot
Skeleton Key
The Mystery of the Disappearing Cat
Class A
The Secret of Terror Castle
The Picts and the Martyrs
The Assassination Game
Point Blanc
The Recruit
The World of Poo
The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage
Missee Lee
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Just Like Jennings
Catching Fire
The Big Six
The Trouble with Jennings
The Hunger Games
Secret Water
The Bad Beginning
We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea
Pigeon Post
The Song of the Quarkbeast
Coot Club
Winter Holiday
Jennings as Usual
Peter Duck
Take Jennings for Instance
Thanks to Jennings
Swallows and Amazons
Our Friend Jennings
The Last Dragonslayer
According to Jennings
Jennings' Diary
Jennings and Darbishire
Jennings' Little Hut
Jennings Follows a Clue
Jennings Goes to School
Artemis Fowl

Unreviewed books

A Killing in the Market
Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens
An Ear for Danger
Beyond the Law
Biggles - Flying Detective
Biggles and the Black Peril
Biggles and the Secret Mission
Biggles Defends the Desert
Biggles Defies the Swastika
Biggles Delivers the Goods
Biggles Fails to Return
Biggles Flies East
Biggles Flies West
Biggles Goes to War
Biggles in France
Biggles in the Orient
Biggles Learns to Fly
Blood Fever
Blood Relations
Brother Against Brother
By Royal Command
Castle Fear
Choke Hold
Cold Sweat
Countdown to Terror
Crime in the Kennel
Crusade of the Flaming Sword
Cult of Crime
Dangerous Games
Dead on Target
Deep Trouble
Diplomatic Deceit
Dirty Deeds
Disaster for Hire
Double or Die
Edge of Destruction
Endangered Species
Evil Incorporated
Fatal Error
Final Cut
Final Gambit
Flesh and Blood
Flight into Danger
Foul Play
Foul Play
Fright Wave
Fun for the Secret Seven
Funny Business
Good Old Secret Seven
Grave Danger
High-Speed Showdown
Hollywood Horror
Hostages of Hate
Hot Wheels
Hurricane Gold
James and the Giant Peach
Jennings Again
Jennings at Large
Jennings in Particular
Lethal Cargo
Long Shot
Look Out Secret Seven
Mariel of Redwall
Martial Law
Martin the Warrior
Maximum Challenge
Murder at the Mall
Murder to Go
No Mercy
Open Season
Outcast of Redwall
Pearls of Lutra
Perfect Getaway
Power Play
Programme for Destruction
Puzzle for the Secret Seven
Reel Trouble
Rigged for Revenge
Rock 'n' Revenge
Rough Stuff
Scene of the Crime
Secret Seven Fireworks
Secret Seven Mystery
Secret Seven Win Through
See No Evil
Seven Strange and Ghostly Tales
Shock for the Secret Seven
Sidetracked to Danger
Sky Sabotage
Slam Dunk Sabotage
Speaking of Jennings
Still William
Swallows and Amazons for Ever!
Terror on Track
The Alaskan Adventure
The Bellmaker
The Blackwing Puzzle
The Borgia Dagger
The Camels are Coming
The Cold Cash Caper
The Crowning Terror
The Crystal Prison
The Dead Season
The Final Reckoning
The Genius Thieves
The Hypersonic Secret
The Jennings Report
The Last Laugh
The Last Leap
The Lazarus Plot
The Long Patrol
The Midnight Folk
The Mystery of Death Trap Mine
The Mystery of Monster Mountain
The Mystery of the Cranky Collector
The Mystery of the Dead Man's Riddle
The Mystery of the Headless Horse
The Mystery of the Invisible Dog
The Mystery of the Kidnapped Whale
The Mystery of the Magic Circle
The Mystery of the Missing Mermaid
The Mystery of the Purple Pirate
The Mystery of the Rogues' Reunion
The Mystery of the Scar-Faced Beggar
The Mystery of the Shrinking House
The Mystery of the Silver Star
The Mystery of the Singing Serpent
The Mystery of the Sinister Scarecrow
The Mystery of the Smashing Glass
The Mystery of the Trail of Terror
The Mystery of the Two-Toed Pigeon
The Mystery of the Wandering Cave Man
The Number File
The Oaken Throne
The Phoenix Equation
The Search for the Snow Leopard
The Secret of Phantom Lake
The Secret of the Haunted Mirror
The Seven and the Lion Hunt
The Seven and the Magician
The Seven and the UFOs
The Seven Strike Gold
The Seven to the Rescue
The Sky Blue Frame
Thick as Thieves
Three Cheers, Secret Seven
Trust Jennings
Typically Jennings
Uncivil War
Web of Horror
Without a Trace
Witness to Murder

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