Arranging a meeting...

...but the gardener is clearing out the shed!

A cave makes a great temporary meeting place.

Setting a honey trap for intruders.

The cave is ransacked!

Up a tree, eavesdropping on villains.

The Scarecrow Inn...?

...or a real scarecrow!

Hidden loot in the cave.

Secret Seven Win Through

Review by Julie Heginbotham (July 6, 2008)

It's Easter holidays for the Seven. "April's a lovely month," says Janet. Enid writes the days as warm and sunny. Time for a Secret Seven meeting, but unfortunately the shed is being cleaned and painted and so another secret meeting place has to be found.

The list of possibilities include: Old Hut, Caravan, Boat House, Cave. The majority vote is for the cave, which is in a sand quarry on Peter's father's land. Peter leads everyone to see the cave, taking them through the field, down a grassy path, past a pond, then a right turn to the quarry. The cave is surrounded by close growing bushes of bright yellow, and trailing greenery hides the entrance. "It's like a curtain," is Peter's description. This automatically had me remembering the cave in The Valley of Adventure, a novel Enid wrote in 1947, eight years before she wrote this book. But this cave was hidden behind a waterfall with a 'curtain of greenery' covering the entrance.

The Seven make the cave cosy with cushions, bottles of drinks, two syphons of soda – and Colin's set of Famous Five books. It's interesting that Enid mentions another of her series here – not the first time either, as in another Seven book it's established that they live in Peterswood, fabled home to the Five Find-Outers (although the Five Find-Outers themselves are not mentioned). So according to the Secret Seven, the world of the Five Find-Outers is grounded in reality, while the Famous Five are purely fictional!

One day, whilst playing hide and seek in the sand quarry, Jack thinks he sees one of the Seven go into the cave... but later finds out that not one of the Seven had been near it at the time. Then the Seven discover some of their things have gone missing, including Colin's book, Five Go Down to the Sea. They suspect Susie and lay a honey trap at the entrance of the cave.

But curiously, they discover their trap is not being disturbed and yet their items are still going missing, so the Seven became quite puzzled. Then, towards the back of the cave where Scamper is digging, they discover a note book with the name of Albert Tanner inside.

The mystery then begins for the Seven. They decide to abandon the cave as their meeting place in case they bump into the mysterious Albert Tanner and so the summer-house at Peter's becomes the next best place to meet. A thorough examination of the note book reveals a clue:

Daren't write it. Jim knows the place. He'll tell you. Meet him on post-office seat 8.30pm, 15th. Ted.

This mysterious note excites the Secret Seven, especially as the 15th is that very day! What is this "place" mentioned in the note? Colin and Jack are seconded by Peter to watch the post office seat that evening, so – with Jack perched up a tree, and Colin behind it – they eavesdrop on any shady looking characters who come by. Before long, two men sit down and start whispering to each other. One is Albert, the owner of the notebook. But before anything useful is said, Colin sneezes loudly and the men pounce on him and box his ears! Colin runs off and the men resume their meeting, unaware that Jack is still up the tree over their heads. "You've got something to tell me," says Albert. The othen man replies, "Yes. The Scarecrow! That's where it is. Look by the Scarecrow."

And so the Seven obtain the vital clue they need to solve the mystery!

This adventure takes the Seven across the countryside, hunting out various scarecrows, only to find that the very one they want is standing in Peter's own field. But whatever it was that the Seven had to discover, had already been dug from the ground nearby. Darn!

Thinking the mystery is now unsolved, the Seven decide to go back to the quarry to hunt around for a torch that Jack had left behind, but who do they find in the quarry but Susie and her friend Jeff. Not only that, the Secret Seven discover another hidden cave which means the mystery is still very much on, bringing this story to an exciting finish.

This is another good story for the younger reader to enjoy, and as in most of the Seven books, they always call upon Peter's father for help towards the end of the story.