Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Book Review: The Marshland Mystery by Kathryn Kenny (Trixie Belden #10)

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: The wonderful characters
Cons: Mystery? What mystery?
The Bottom Line:
Don't meet Trixie here
After you know characters
This one will be fine

Should Have Been Called The Marshland Adventure

As much as I love the Trixie Belden mystery series, some of the books have some serious flaws. Take The Marshland Mystery, for example. There's a decent story here, but I have never gotten over my disappointment from the first time I read it. You see, there is no mystery. I don't think I've ever given the book a fair shake since I discovered that fact.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Trixie is a thirteen year old living in a small community in Westchester, New York. She lives with three brothers and their parents just outside of the village. Her best friend is her neighbor, Honey Wheeler. Together, they get into all kinds of misadventures. I loved this series when I found it at thirteen, and continue to enjoy rereading the books today. Most people I know who got into the series started between eight and ten, so those ages should have no problem with the series either.

This one starts when Trixie decides to help one of her teachers. Miss Bennett's herb collection accidentally gets destroyed in class on a Friday, and Trixie decides to head to the nearby marsh to start a new one for her. So early Saturday morning, she and Honey set out. On the way, they find the old ruins of the Martin mansion which burned down years before and have a run-in with Miss Rachel, the only Martin left. Miss Rachel is a bit strange but basically a nice person.

When they get back that afternoon, they find Honey's house in an uproar. The Wheeler's have a young violin prodigy staying with them, and Gaye Hunya and her annoying poodle Mr. Poo have vanished. When a reporter for the local paper gets wind of it, things get worse. Paul Trent seems to have it in for Trixie and her friends. Why? Will his biased articles create more trouble for Miss Rachel?

As I said earlier, there is really no mystery here. Even calling it an adventure is a stretch, but it is better. Maybe The Marshland Problem? Anyway, when I first read this book, I kept looking at one event and think that was the start of the mystery. Then that would be resolved, and I'd look to the next event to start things off. There is a story here, although it does drag at times. Still, there is enough to keep someone's interest if you know to expect a slice of life story instead of a true mystery.

What saves the book on rereads is the characterization. I've always loved how real the characters are in the series, and this book is no exception. All the series regulars (and there are quite a few of them) are pretty true to character and well developed. And the interaction between the characters is charming. News reporter Paul Trent does come across as less then real. His part of the book provides an interesting look at the power of journalism for good or bad and could certainly start some interesting discussions.

This book was originally released in the 60's. At times the dated setting and writing show, but it never bothered me as a teen.

Obviously, this isn't a favorite in the series and isn't a good introduction to these wonderful characters. I'm sure if it weren't for the case of false advertising, I wouldn't have been quite as disappointed with it as I was all those years ago. So if you are new to Trixie, start somewhere else and come back to The Marshland Mystery later.

Looking for a better place to start?  I suggest starting at the beginning of the Trixie Belden Mysteries in order.


  1. Gaye REALLY annoyed me in this book! But besides that, I didn't have much of a problem with it. It was cute how Bobby had a crush on her

    1. I don't seem to hate Gaye as much as some people do, although she is easy to hate, that's for sure.