The Mystery Of Monster Mountain by M V Carey

Monster MountainIn their twentieth adventure, Jupiter Jones (ex-child actor, although his only role was as “Baby Fatso”, now child genius), Pete Crenshaw (the athletic one) and Bob Andrews (the good-at-looking-things-up one) are off to a ski resort in the Sierra Nevada with Hans and Konrad, the German brothers who help out at Jupiter’s uncle’s scrapyard. They’re off to visit the brothers’ cousin, Anna, but they’re not going to like what they find.

Anna has recently married, but her new husband seems to be up to something. While the boys are hired to find Anna’s missing safety deposit box key, the husband is either sneaking off up the mountain or building a rather odd swimming pool – one with no shallow end. There’s something out there in the woods. And it’s not very friendly.

TomCat’s fault this time. His recent review of The Mystery Of The Whispering Mummy had me reaching for the small bundle of The Three Investigators mysteries that I bought a year or so ago. While his book was written by the series creator, Robert Arthur, mine is again (after The Mystery Of The Magic Circle and The Secret Of The Haunted Mirror) is by M V Carey, who wrote a lot of the later books. As I’ve said before, this series was sort of my transition between the adventure books of The Hardy Boys into the actual mysteries of Dame Agatha et al. In my memory, these were proper mysteries, but the two I’ve revisited so far seemed to show that the memory was cheating.

Not so this time. It’s a short book, so I won’t go into details, but there is a very clever idea for youngsters to spot at the heart of the tale. As I read more, I remembered more and more about it from my first reading – which was over thirty years ago – including my surprise at the twist. With older eyes (and possibly my ridiculous memory of this one – I’m sure I only read it once) it is perhaps over-clued, but it’s a good one and I know I fell for it back then.

You have to take some of it with a pinch of salt – the animal whisperer character, for example, and the nature of the thing on the mountain – but it’s good fun, there’s a few good laughs, and, for a children’s book, I thought it was pretty clever. And if you want to complain that surely one of them would have spotted something, then I direct you to Mesopotamia, if you know what I mean…

Great memories and great fun. Highly recommended (but mainly for your kids).

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14 comments

  1. I’ll gladly take the fall for this one, Doc!

    The books I’ve read so far in this series, The Secret of Skeleton Island and The Mystery of the Whispering Mummy, were proper mysteries mixed with some adventurous elements for the suspense, but they had a plot and clues. So whether they tended more towards proper mysteries or adventure stories probably depends on who did the writing.

    However, M.V. Carey apparently did write an entry in the series, namely The Mystery of the Invisible Dog, which had a plot/trick based on a John Dickson Carr short story.

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    • I read most, if not all, of the first twenty five or so when I was young and a couple of the later ones. The Mystery Of The Invisible Dog is one that sticks in the memory, simply because it scared the pants off me – there’s an element that was so creepy. Ditto the first book, The Secret Of Terror Castle, which, not knowing the format, I nearly put down and never came back to. Glad that I did though…

      Some of the later books are a bit Scooby Doo-ish – The Mystery Of The Dancing Devil for example – actually, I thought this one was too, but the memory cheated – but I always enjoyed them. In fact, I fancy another one really soon. What luck that when I picked up this one, it’s part of a three-in-one with Whispering Mummy and Death Trap Mine. Although I might just hunt down a copy of The Invisible Dog now you’ve mentioned it…

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      • Beware of the later relaunch. There are 43 from the iteration of the series that I read, with the later ones being a bit on the rare side, I think. Wikipedia has the complete list.

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      • M.V. Carey’s great failing as a Three Investigators author is that she often falls back on the supernatural. Many of her additions to the series feature some sort of supernatural event, and sometimes (too often!) they are not adequately explained.

        However, on the whole she was still an entertaining writer, and some of her plots are well thought-out, but I’d generally recommend the stories by Robert Arthur and William Arden before hers.

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