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Enid BLYTON: 8. Five Get Into Trouble (1949)
(U.S. title: Five Caught in a Treacherous Plot)
Review by Michael Edwards - also appears on Amazon.co.uk
Appears on Amazon.co.uk:
Date : 25 August, 1999
Rating : 5/5
Heading : The Five's cycling tour blunders into a real nest of rogues.
I read this again recently, although I first read it as a child - and still
found it very familiar indeed.
The Five are on a cycling tour through the countryside, and everything is
very pleasant and idyllic, with enjoyable meals by the wayside and swims in
pools, until the Five meet Richard Kent, who accompanies them for a short while,
but unfortunately leads them into considerable trouble, partly through his own
lies and deceit.
Richard's wealthy father had had a former bodyguard known as Rooky, who had
been dismissed as a result of Richard telling tales to his father, and as a
result Rooky is thirsting for revenge. Unfortunately he catches sight of
Richard after he parts from the Five, and Richard comes blundering into the
forest where the Five are about to set up camp, seeking their help, and two of
Rooky's henchmen come upon Dick and kidnap him, mistaking him for Richard, whom
they do not know by sight.
Exciting adventures follow as a result of the others' late-night attempt to
trace Dick and rescue him (with Richard tagging fearfully along); this leads
them, via a moonlight bike ride and a wayside adventure, to Owl's Dene, a
lonely, walled mansion which, as its secrets slowly unfold, turns out to be a
veritable nest of assorted rogues. All the children are held there, and there
seems no hope of escape until Julian thinks up a plan which will only work if
Richard is able finally to prove his bravery.
This is one of the more exciting of the Famous Five stories. The plot
thickens during the second half of the novel, and when the children are
eventually able to send word to the police about what is going on, and the
police are closing in, the criminals are getting into a siege mentality, and the
danger for the children increases, especially from Rooky, who has seen all his
neat plans come unstuck because of the children's actions, and whose desire for
revenge extends to all of them now, not just Richard.
There are a couple of plot flaws. Given Richard's cowardice (which is
something of a theme followed by the book, culminating in his big opportunity to
redeem himself), as well as his entirely reasonable fear of Rooky, it is
puzzling why he followed the others into the den of thieves simply because he
dreaded being left behind all alone even more. Also, it is difficult to see why
the children, especially towards the end, when they are all together, and
getting more desperate, don't even consider trying to escape by climbing over
the iron gates to the mansion. (They are outdoors some of the time within the
grounds, more or less unsupervised, so the opportunity was there.)
Nevertheless, after the peaceful, holiday atmosphere of the first few
chapters, you will not be able to put this down until you've finished. I have
read adult books whose climax was less tense and intricate than this book.
The characters may not be portrayed in any depth or subtlety, but they are
quite well differentiated: the children, and the criminals they get tangled up
with, too - at least the ones who appear more than occasionally. For instance,
Mr. Perton is cool and rational, always evaluating the best thing to do, whereas
Rooky's desire for revenge causes him to act rashly (even from his own point of
view), and in fact contributes to his and the others' final undoing.
The writing style is quite plain but very clear in Blyton's usual manner,
and never gets in the way between the story and the reader. There are
occasional touches of atmosphere which have, for instance, caused the moonlight
adventure about half-way through to remain as a clear image in my memory ever
since my childhood. The sense of atmosphere which sometimes appears in these
books is probably helped by Eileen Soper's excellent original illustrations,
brought back for the centenary Famous Five edition.
A thrilling children's book, and perhaps even an enjoyable read for older
people who want something relaxing or nostalgic to read in an odd few hours.
E-mail me about this book.
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Original text copyright (C) 1999, 2000, by Michael Edwards.
More material on this web site related to Blyton
Book listing for Enid Blyton
More reviews by myself of Enid Blyton's books
Amazon.com customer reviews:
Under the title Five Get Into Trouble
Under the title Five Caught in a Treacherous Plot
Amazon.co.uk customer reviews - under the title Five Get Into Trouble
Introduction - Front page, which leads to Contents
Web Site of Michael Edwards - Contents
Writings by Michael Edwards
Famous Five Books
8. Five Get Into Trouble (this page)
This page created on Friday, 12 May, 2000;
last modified on Thursday, 15 June, 2000.