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The Five Find Outers Enid Blyton

Default Smiles Enid Blyton’s written more books than some of us have had hot dinners. They mostly fall in the broad categories of ‘kids doing stuff’, ‘toys doing stuff’, ‘magical creatures doing stuff’, and ‘animals doing stuff’. Sometimes all at once.
Happy Sharky2 Kids doing stuff narrows further down into ‘kids doing stuff at school’, ‘kids solving mysterious stuff’, ‘kids doing stuff on the farm’, and they all come in the big bag of ‘why isn’t anyone supervising these kids?’.
Default Smiles Groups of kids getting together to solve mysteries was a very popular topic for Enid Blyton, and she wrote several different sets for different groups of kids. The Riddle series, the Adventure series the Mystery series, the Secret series, the Adventurous Four, the Secret Seven, the Famous Five, and the Five Find-Outers (and dog). They may be more but we don’t know about them. And the last of that list is what we want to talk about today. So now I want you to imagine you’re a group of kids in a sleepy little English village which is full of crime.
Surprised Sharky 2 You ask most people and they’ll say “oh yeah Famous Five, I loved Famous Five, they were the best” but hold on just a minute because why doesn’t anyone remember Five Find-Outers? They were great. Although the later books did increasingly fall into the format of two of the characters, Fatty and Bets, being the only genuinely useful people to the case, with the other three there to mostly either be astonished at the cleverness or to scoff at deductions that seemed far-fetched. But mystery-helpfulness aside they were always a tight-knit group of friends, which added to the charm of the town life that was happening outside of the crime.
Surprised Smiles But really, who solves the mystery was never really what was important to be in these books. I came to this series as a kid for three things. A: The delicious food and the fun activities the five friends were always up to. B: Inspector Jenks sometimes striding into the books (very rarely) and putting everyone in their place. And C: Fatty teaching us something cool.
Happy Sharky That was the biggest selling point for me out of all the different mystery series. Fatty seemed to have nothing but money and time and brains to spare, so he’d come back every holidays in each book bursting with detective and assorted knowledge like a little Sherlock Holmes. Like ventriloquism, which he never really taught us, or shadowing a suspect. And the art of disguise, where he gave us a lot of good tips about how to act like someone else, but too many expensive prosthetics were involved in actually doing it. And best of all, how to get out of a locked door (only very specific ones), and how to make your own invisible ink.
Happy Smiles Those last two were really exciting for us, especially because our kitchen had the exact kind of old fashioned keyhole needed for the escape trick. We’d take turns doing it and feel incredibly cool. It was also pretty fun reading the different ways Fatty would make use of all of the stuff he knew to either solve a case or, when he was feeling very bored, pull pranks on the local policeman.
Angry Sharky 3 The policeman wasn’t at all likeable, so that was fun, but there were a several books where I really felt sorry for him because he’s obviously not very bright and the kids take things too far. Then when he gets in trouble over their jokes it’s his fault for not being clever enough to see through them. Sometimes it’s deserved, when he shows his nasty side, because he is definitely a bully. But mostly he’s minding his own business, and the kids go out of their way to antagonise him because they’re bored, making him look stupid and more often than not distracting him from the actual case. Somehow being distracted from real mysterious happenings because of fake mysterious happenings is his fault as well. Not the most sympathetic hero, is our Fatty. But I suppose it’s perfectly in character for a bored boy who thinks he’s the cleverest thing in the world. It’s even less sympathetic when they take advantage of the fact that the policeman’s nephew isn’t the brightest either, just because they can.
Shocked Smiles If there’s one thing I’ve really and truly learned from Enid Blyton books, it’s that kids can be nasty. It’s normally very mild in most of the books, and at its worst in the school stories, where whole classes of kids who know each other well start judging the new kid for being too shy, or too confident, or not athletic. There’s even a weird book where the new kid tries to be friendly and chatty, and the whole class snubs her because it’s not done for the new girl to speak out of turn. Uh… what? That’s a whole can of worms for another time, but… what?
Surprised Sharky BACK to the series we’re actually talking about. Now, if you like reading mysteries, you’ll notice that a lot of the grown-up mysteries are murders. Kids’ mysteries are mostly smugglers, thefts or kidnappings. A lot more variety, since they can’t fall back on ‘and then he died’, so they have to be pretty creative. There’s one book that’s even more unique, in the sense that it’s not a conventional crime and it probably has one of the most uncomfortable resolutions in the series. Taking advantage of the setting of a little town where everyone knows each other, one of the books is about nasty, spiteful letters left anonymously to random people, with just enough truth in them to be horribly upsetting. It has a genuine emotional impact on people, and the criminal is not some hardened criminals who get carted away off-screen. They’re nothing more than a normal townsperson, but a spiteful, cowardly one with no friends who breaks down in tears upon being confronted.

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Sad Smiles 2 Yeaaaah. That was kind of uncomfortable, even for the kids. Not exactly a glorious end to a crime. That was really different though, and it stands out. And the books usually end with some delicious food to take their minds off of their ordeal. Every mystery should end with delicious food.
Sassy Sharky Holmes and Watson eating egg sandwiches.
Happy Smiles Poirot and Hastings eating scones with butter.
Sassy Sharky “But how ever did you solve the murder?”
Poirot Smiles “Simple. The stabbing was left-handed. Strawberry ice-cream?”
Holmes Sharky “Don’t mind if I do.”

2 thoughts on “The Five Find Outers Enid Blyton

  1. Yaaay. The five find-outers (and dog) were my favourite mystery solving children. I loved this series! Thank you for this review!

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