Sunday, July 10, 2016

Book Review: The Mystery of the Antique Doll by Kathryn Kenny (Trixie Belden #36)



Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Mostly good characters, good overall mystery
Cons: A few character missteps, plot drives story too much
The Bottom Line:
Mysterious shop
And an errand in Paris
Average Trixie




 Plot Drives Book More than Logic

We are getting further into the reaches of the final five Trixie Belden books.  Most fans of the series hate them.  I’m not sure I hate them, but I can certainly see their weaknesses.  Take The Mystery of the Antique Doll.  It’s not the worst of the series, but it certainly isn’t the best of the series.

Dr. Ferris has asked Trixie Belden and her best friend Honey Wheeler to help out a neighbor who broke her arm.  Always willing to help others, they quickly agree.  Mrs. De Keyser. happens to live next door a new business in town, an antique store.  After their first afternoon helping Mrs. De Keyser, Trixie and Honey stop by and start admiring the antique toys only to have the owner, Carl, snap at them and ask them to leave.

Naturally, this sets off Trixie’s radar that something is suspicious.  However, she is soon distracted by a long weekend trip to Paris with Honey and her parents.  When Carl overhears the friends talking about their trip, he asks them to do him a favor and pick up a fragile antique doll and bring it back to Sleepyside with them.  Only when they do, they find themselves being followed by a stranger.  What is going on?

This is one of those books that sounds great in concept but needs some help in execution.  The clues that Trixie gathers rely more on coincidence that any actual sleuthing on her part.  In fact, one turn late in the book relies on something completely silly happening.  This didn’t bother me at all when I read it originally as a kid, but it is obvious as an adult.  Things do come together for a logical and exciting climax, however.

Then there are the characters.  Trixie and Honey have a group of friends called the Bob-Whites, and there are seven members of this club overall.  Jim, Di, and Dan hardly get anything to do in this book.  Heck, Dan only shows up for the climax, while Jim and Di do get to be part of a couple of group scenes.  Trixie’s brothers Mart and Brian definitely fair better.  They aren’t a huge part of the action, but they are around.  Still, the characters are mostly in character…until the final chapter.  As we learn about the Christmas presents that the Bob-Whites are making for friends and family, we learn that Trixie is knitting scarves.  Really?  Sorry, but it is well established that Trixie wants nothing to do with anything remotely like sewing.  Then there’s the Inspector Clouseau inspired character we meet along the way.  He’s supposed to be funny, but I found him annoying even reading this as a kid.  Having seen (and not liked) the original Pink Panther movies since then, I haven’t changed my mind on the character.

Honey’s parents are very rich, and they are always jetting away for work or pleasure.  They’ve included the Bob-Whites in the past, and that’s formed the basis of some of the earlier books in the series.  This is the first time they’ve included them for just a quick trip that lasts for a couple chapters.  Some fans have an issue with this, but I don’t mind as much.  Yes, it is just driven by the plot, but it’s a fun plot point.

When I originally read the books, I read them in random order.  I was still a kid, and I lapped up any adventure with the Bob-Whites in it.  If you look at it that way, this book is still good.  Looking at it as an adult, it is easier to see that the characters are a little flat and the plot has some holes.  Many of the fans who dislike this book read it for the first time as an adult.  I can see their point, but there are still things I enjoy about it, like getting to spend time with Trixie.

So if you are new to the series, don’t start with The Mystery of the Antique Doll.  This will never be one of the best of the series, but it isn’t the worst either.

Looking for Trixie's earlier adventures?  Here are the Trixie Belden Mysteries in order.

3 comments:

  1. I still love Trixie Belden. I still re-read my collection on a regular basis. If it hadn't been for the Bob-Whites I would never have begun reading cozies. That said, I never read the last 5 books. By the time I discovered they existed, they were long out of print.

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    1. I was fortunate that I was finding Trixie as these last 5 were coming out. I hope you find a cheap way to read them at some point.

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