"Wait – it's NOT Jack!"
Some important discussion.
Colin is assigned to interview General Branksome...
...about his stolen medals.
A tussle in the woods!
Look Out Secret Seven
Review by Julie Heginbotham (July 6, 2008)
"Holidays at last," said Peter. But Enid doesn't actually tell us which holidays they are.
I have to say that this book doesn't quite flow as well as the previous Secret Seven books. The year of publication is 1962, and I can only assume that the reason it doesn't have quite the same feel as the previous books, is that Enid was in the early stages of her illness while writing this one.
On the first page, Rachel is mentioned, working in the kitchen, so presumably she is the cook... though I have to say I don't recall her being mentioned in any of the earlier books. Peter, I feel, is out of character. He forgets the password, and Janet has to remind him it's 'holidays'. Throughout the series Peter has been prestigious about the Secret Seven remembering passwords, and wearing their badges, and this is so unlike him to forget. He contacts the other members by phone to tell them there is a meeting the following day, as their godmother has presented them with a large box of chocolate biscuits and they want to share them around.
The members duly arrived, and Jack turns up last. But Scamper keeps growling at him, and the others think it's because he's wearing a cap, so George whips the cap from Jack's head – and everyone stares in amazement as hair falls from the cap, and Jack is none other than Susie! She tells the others she and Binkie were on their way home from a fancy dress party and they had gone as Jack and Jill. The others are furious and Peter pushes her out of the shed. She yells to Binkie as he does so, and Binkie then proceeds to throw a bucket of water all over the others. This picture is featured on the front of the book. Another trick of Susie's to show she is worthy of being one of the Secret Seven. Though how on earth the others didn't recognise Susie's disguise is a little unbelievable, and in my opinion there are parts in this book that are quite unrealistic.
So once again a meeting is arranged for the following day, and the Seven decide that, as there is no mystery to solve, they will have to think of something else to do. A neighbour of Colin's, General Branksome, had his medals stolen recently, and so they vote to try and find the medals and also keep an eye on the nesting birds in Bramley Woods, as a gang is destroying the nests and stealing the eggs.
Colin is chosen to interview his neighbour, the General. Meanwhile, Barbara, George and Jack go over to check up on the nesting birds in Bramley Woods. Colin learns that the thief, who stole the General's medals, has a small hand which was able to fit through a small hole smashed in the window, enabling the thief to lift up the window catch. The General is also offering a reward for the safe return of his medals. Once he's interviewed the General, Colin races over to the woods to join the other members.
In the woods, the others come across three boys who proceed to disrupt the bird's nests and take the eggs. The three members try and stop them and a small fight breaks out. Barbara runs for help and comes across a man, who rushes to the rescue. This rescuer turns out to be Tom Smith, who says he is watching the birds he loves as he wants to write a book.
Colin joins the other three and they invite Tom to join in their picnic. Tom is interested to learn about their club and they tell him that, at present, they are working on trying to find the thief who stole the General's medals. Tom tells them that he thinks he knows where they are, and explains that whilst he was watching the birds one evening, a man passed him by, carrying a long box which he proceeded to hide inside a hole of a tree trunk. The others are delighted with this news, and want Tom to tell them where the tree is. Tom then seems to have a change of character, for he turns nasty, saying he wants part of the reward money first. Colin gets angry and accuses him of being in league with the small-handed thief. Suddenly scared of Tom Smith, they all run off.
Reading this section of the book again had me puzzled. What seemed to be a pleasant man, coming to their rescue, suddenly turns nasty and, out of the blue, with no clues to go on, Colin accuses him of being in league with the thief! It's as though Enid didn't quite know how to put forward any clues or more information and quickly decided that Tom Smith had to have a character change.
They hold a meeting and inform Peter, Janet and Pam, who had not been involved in the incidents. A little strange, for Peter – being head of the Secret Seven – usually likes to be involved right from the start!
It's arranged that the Seven stake out the woods that night, waiting for Tom Smith to arrive, as the Seven have worked out that the thief is the only one who can get the medals from the hole in the tree trunk, and Tom Smith will be going along to wait for him to turn up. So from here the adventure heats up.
I don't want to give away the conclusion to this simple plot, but Susie redeems herself by arranging the Seven's rescue from the woods. This of course makes up for her stupid prank earlier in the book.
There is a well written scene where a police dog handler users his own dogs to rescue the Seven.
This is not one of Enid's best Secret Seven books. As I mentioned earlier, for me it didn't flow as well as the previous books. The whole book seemed completely out of character.