Pros: Entertaining second half
Cons: Slow start, characters not always in character, stereotypes
The Bottom Line:
Fish hunting in caves
While visiting the Ozarks
Fun and adventure
Spelunking We Will Go
One reason I love to read is the chance to experience something I don't normally get to do in real life. I find caves fascinating, so I was immediately intrigued when I spotted The Mystery at Bob-White Cave as one of the titles in the Trixie Belden series.
I didn't get around to reading the book for a couple more years. By then, I had the characters down pat. Trixie Belden is a fourteen year old (she actually got to have a birthday in the last book) who loves mystery and adventure. Her best friend Honey Wheeler loves mysteries almost as much as Trixie, and together the two of them do an impressive job of solving crimes. They have formed a club, The Bob-Whites of the Glen. The members include Trixie, Honey, Trixie's two older brothers, Honey's adopted brother, and two other friends. While most of their adventures are set in a small town in
New York, this book finds them in Arkansas.
Trixie and her friends are visiting her Uncle Andrew again (they stayed on his sheep farm in a previous adventure), this time at his cabin in the Ozarks. On a rainy afternoon, Trixie finds an article about the search for some ghost fish. The article even offers a reward to anyone who can provide all three kinds some scientists are looking for. Certain that this is the perfect way to raise some money for their latest project, Trixie convinces the others to join her. But things begin to turn sour when they meet their guide. Slim has a nasty streak, and there's something about him that Trixie doesn't trust. Throw in a mysterious figure seen near an empty cabin and talk of ghosts and the Bob-Whites will have plenty to keep them busy.
As much as I was looking forward to this book, it isn't one of my favorites. One main reason is the characters. Trixie and Honey aren't themselves here. In fact, they seem to have reverted to their personalities from book one. Trixie is impatient and whiny. Honey is scared of everything. And you know what? These personality traits are just as annoying now as they were in book one. The other main characters come across better, which helps save the book.
Additionally, the locals are portrayed as a superstitious bunch who will believe any legend they hear. Almost every one wants to blame everything on ghosts. Even though I am not from the region, these stereotypes really bug me.
Then there's the story. While there is action the entire way through, things still get off to a slow start. Once the story does get going, things really pick up and I get caught up in the action all over again. While there are some mystery elements to the story, I would still consider this more of an adventure then a true mystery, but I'm splitting hairs at this point.
Even though the book was first published in the 60's, I doubt that anyone in the 8-12 target audience will have trouble reading it. Nothing has ever stood out to me as extremely outdated in the writing, and it flows smoothly.
It takes me a while to get into this book, but once I do, I enjoy myself. The Mystery at Bob-White Cave isn't the strongest entry in the series, but it is entertaining.
Looking for more mystery and adventure? You'll want to check out the Trixie Belden Mysteries in order.