The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage, by Enid Blyton

December 10, 2011 at 15:07 (Adventure, Book Reviews, Children's Books, Fiction, Mediocre Books, Mystery) (, , , , , )


The Five Find-Outers mystery series was published and written over the course of some twenty years of Enid Blyton’s career, and so it makes a great deal of sense that they would differ so greatly from each other. The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage faces many of the problems of a debut book in a lengthy series, and it is unsurprising that some of the characters in this first installment are so different as to be unrecognisable from their later incarnations. And so it is that we find a pompous and generally idiotic Fatty, a cruel and abrasive Larry and a much more aggressive Goon than he later became.

The mystery itself is generally simple in its principle, if not in its details. Any reader (including young children) will correctly determine that the criminal is the meanest and most evil character introduced: every clue to the contrary must be a red herring, and the most sweet and selfless characters will surely be the most vigorously accused and also the most plainly innocent.

“‘Oh, a find-outer,’ said Bets. ‘I’d love to be that. I’m sure I would make a very good find-outer.’
‘No, you’re too little,’ said Pip. Bets looked ready to cry.”

-The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage

There are clues given throughout the book that a careful observer might notice, but although the culprit might be obvious his actual scheme is rather complex and difficult, and so the suspense of denouement is at least preserved in part. Oddly enough this chronologically first book is neither representative of the rest of the series, nor should it be recommended as a starting point. Although this is one of Blyton’s more satisfying and cleverer mysteries, the characters are still half-baked, and some of them are either a little duller or a little more unpleasant than they would eventually become.

The verdict is this: of the fifteen books in the series, about a third of them are outstanding, about a third are dully repetitive and unimaginative, and about a third are fun mysteries with apparent flaws. This book is a perfect representative of the last set, and therefore a fun read, but one to be ventured into once the reader is confident that the series is worth the effort.

Related reviews:
The Mystery of the Spiteful Letters
The Mystery of Holly Lane


  1. Stephen Isabirye said,

    I discuss The Five Find Outers and some of their Mystery books in my eclectic comparison between them and the more known and more famous, “The Famous Five” series in my book on Enid Blyton, titled, The Famous Five: A Personal Anecdotage.
    Stephen Isabirye

  2. J. Holsworth Stevenson said,

    Is that so? I’ve not actually read any of the Famous Five books; I’m a little too eclectic for that, and I only read this particular series. Looking through the extract on Amazon I couldn’t find any mention of the Five Find-Outers. What were some of the conclusions you drew? It seems to me Enid Blyton would be a rich subject for study. She does hold some very fierce opinions, and her idea of how the world works is brazenly displayed in both her Five Find-Outers series and in Noddy.

  3. snazal said,

    I would recommend this for small children, buy Enid blytons mysteries series 6 books set collection children classic books

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