Wednesday, October 27, 2021

The Three Investigators- debunking ghosts from a junk yard

 It’s really more Halloween adjacent at best but I have gone back to the Three Investigators series for the last few months got decompression reading. The reason that I can even try and tie the books to Halloween is because, man, these teens run into a lot of Scooby Doo hoaxes.

The Three Investigators is a series of juvenile mysteries that ran from 1964 to 1987. Except in Germany. If Wikipedia is to be believed, it never stopped in Germany. 

The protagonists form a classic Super Ego-Ego-Id trio. Jupiter Jones is the chubby super ego and the actual detective of the group. Bob Andrews is the ego. While Jupiter is the intuitive genius, Pete is the other side of the smart guy coin, the methodical researcher. And Pete Crenshaw is the big guy, the id, and I always picture him as Shaggy from Scooby Doo since he’s the first to believe in the supernatural.

In some ways, the stories are more grounded than other kid detectives I’ve looked at. They live in a defined town that is fictional but set in a specific location in California. They have to work and scrounge for money and supplies. And grownups, either negatively or positively, are never useless.

On the other hand, they do have an elaborate hidden secret headquarters in a junkyard and they have access to a Rolls Royce. Which, admittedly, does explain how they can get around California. So there is some definite wish fulfillment going on.

Originally, part of the spin of the series was that the boys were associated with Alfred Hitchcock. In reality, of course, all Alfred Hitchcock did was accept a check for the use of his name. But, honestly, from an entertainment and literary standpoint, that’s the least interesting part of the  books. 

The plots are surprisingly intricate puzzles. Not realistic, oh no, but they are intricate. I did appreciate when part of a solution was glare jolt obvious in one book, Jupiter immediately pointed out. The plots are ridiculous puzzles built on people trying to live like Professor Layton but they don’t talk down to their readers.

One thing I can’t do really is compare these books to either the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew, even though they fit the same niche. That’s because those two series have been pretty much adding content for ninety years and adjusting as the times change. I’d have to find books written at the same time as the Three Investigators to make a fair comparison.

I have only read nine of the original forty-three books but I have enjoyed them and I’ll keep on going. The Three Investigators isn’t high literature but it also isn’t junk.

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