Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Good characters, old and new, and a fun mystery
Cons: Molinson suspecting Mart doesn’t ring true for me.
The Bottom Line:
Vandal hits the school
Trixie must clear her brother
Some flaws but still fun
Mart the Midnight Marauder?
I’ve got to admit, the title of this book introduced me to a new word. Even though I was a teen the first time I read The Mystery of the Midnight Marauder, I don’t think I’d ever heard the word before. It’s just not a word used in common speech. I have, of course, heard it used in historical contexts. So even though I sat down that first time not knowing what exactly would be happening, I quite enjoyed the book. That hasn’t changed on my latest reread.
And yes, here comes my standard Trixie Belden introduction post. If you know this, feel free to skip to the next paragraph. But if you are new to Trixie, this was a series for kids like the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew. Trixie and her two older brothers and their friends in the area just outside of Sleeyside, New York, formed a club, the Bob-Whites of the Glen, to help each other and those in need. Along the way, fourteen-year-old Trixie kept stumbling upon mysteries that she proved to be quite good as solving.
When Trixie wakes up that Saturday morning in March, she is only worried about Reddy, the Belden family dog. He’s missing, and she feels like it is something more than him off chasing rabbits. But then her brother Mart starts acting funny. And when she and the Bob-Whites arrive at school to help with some cleanup, they find it’s been attacked by someone calling himself the Midnight Marauder.
The biggest shock comes when Trixie learns that Mart is Sergeant Molinson’s prime suspect. With the town quickly turning against teens in general because of this and other vandalism in town, Trixie’s going to have to act fact to clear her brother and find the real culprit. But who might it be?
The thing that drew me to this series about the time I was growing tired of the Hardys and Nancy was the very real characters. Trixie had flaws as well as strengths and she jumped to wrong conclusions on her way to solving the mystery at hand. The same is true of the rest of the rather large cast of regular characters. While the best of the character development took place in the earliest books in the series, this book gets the characters right and their strengths and weaknesses are on great display here. And that includes Di and Dan, two Bob-Whites who sometimes are sidelined for entire books. They aren’t in every scene, but they are involved quite heavily. Because of the large cast of regular characters, you might be a bit lost if you jumped in here, but if you back up to the beginning of the series, you’ll quickly get filled in on everyone. The new characters aren’t quite as well developed, but you can see the potential in some of them to be great characters if they had shown up again later in the series. And they are certainly memorable
The mystery? It’s a little obvious despite the writer’s attempts to hide the clues, although I don’t think I guessed it as a kid. Still, rereading it knowing the solution, it is fun to see how the author planted what we needed to know so we could reach a satisfying conclusion.
The one thing that bothers me about this book is Sergeant Molinson. Now, as a character, he’s usually gruff with Trixie and her friends since they are sticking their nose into police business and getting in serious trouble as a result. However, this is book thirty in the series and roughly the thirteenth time Trixie’s caught a villain in their town. Would Molinson really suspect Mart of being the marauder? I find that extremely hard to swallow and I always have. Yes, it’s supposed to give Trixie a motive to investigate and a get us invested further in the story. But really? Heck, there was one book where Molinson asked Trixie and her friends for help. That doesn’t sound like someone who would turn around and think Mart was vandalizing the school and their favorite hangout.
Okay, rant over.
Because, despite that flaw, I absolutely love this book. When this series is at its best, it provides fun moments and good mysteries, and that’s what we get in The Mystery of the Midnight Marauder.
Missed Trixie? Here's a list of the Trixie Belden Mysteries in order.
This review is part of this week's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday.