The Secret Of The Haunted Mirror by M V Carey

Or, Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators in The Secret of the Haunted Mirror, to be precise. But that wouldn’t fit in the title bar.

Having recently written my first review of a mystery aimed at children, namely Death In The Devil’s Den, I was inspired to dive into the internet and find a copy of the books that turned me on to “proper” mysteries in the first place – namely The Three Investigators.

In this outing, our three heroes are helping out a Mrs Darnley, a slightly-mad collector who has filled her house with mirrors. Her prize piece is the so-called Goblin Mirror, a two metre high looking glass, that is attracting attention for all the wrong reasons. Firstly, a disreputable foreigner wants to buy it and won’t take no for an answer. Second, a mysterious black-clad thief is found in the room with the mirror – which is far too large to steal. Oh, and how could I forget, thirdly, the ghost of the long-dead magician who created the mirror has been sighted, both inside the mirror… and roaming the house as well. Can our three heroes get to the bottom of things? And, more importantly, did my memory cheat when I remembered this series so fondly?

Phew. The memory didn’t cheat. It’s always a relief when something you really enjoyed when you’re young turns out to be disappointing when viewed through adult eyes – for example, a fair proportion of Doctor Who post mid-Tom Baker (thank goodness for Big Finish!) – and this didn’t disappoint. Well, it sort of did, but I’ll explain that in a minute.

As a bit of history, the series ran from 1964 to 1987, initially written by a single author, Robert Arthur, but thereafter a number of other writers shared writing duties. During his lifetime, there were introductions and epilogues “written” by Alfred Hitchcock – the epilogue usually involved the boys explaining the solution of the mystery, but following his death, he was replaced by a new character, Hector Sebastian. At this point, the authors managed to get their names of the covers, and it was at this point that I realised a) there was more than one author and b) the books by M V Carey were generally my favourites. Hence my choice of this one – one by M V Carey and one that I couldn’t remember much about.

So, our three heroes, Jupiter (brainy and overweight – my hero!), Pete (basically the action hero role) and Bob (who’s really good at looking things up in the library), are drawn into the case when Jupiter’s uncle delivers a mirror to the house and cue shenanigans.

It’s a shortish book – it’s for kids, after all – and I’ve got very mixed feelings about it. First of all, it’s a great read, with the action (apart from one section) positively zipping along. But on the other hand, it’s a dreadful mystery.

The notion of how the ghost appears in the mirror (and, despite one version of the cover, never steps out of the mirror) is the obvious one – although to be fair, Jupiter spots it almost immediately – even though I’m not convinced it would work convincingly at all, and how the ghost vanishes from the room requires a locked room cheat. After the ghost stuff is mostly resolved, the action turns to the burglar and some international politics (rather dull, I’m afraid) and the only real mystery to be resolved it what is interesting about the mirror – which is quite clever, but you are never really encouraged to consider it as a reader and the solution has dated somewhat and a modern reader probably won’t know what SPOILER is.

But… despite the massive problems with the plot – the reason why the “ghost” is there is pretty weak as well – I really enjoyed the book. It was a fun, nostalgic read, and I’ll be returning to Jupiter, Pete and Bob as soon as I get some more books in the series delivered (and New Author August is out of the way). So, not the best book to start the series with, but if you’re already a converted, you’ll probably enjoy it.


  1. Loved, loved, loved these back in the day. My first Three Investigators was the The Mystery of the Flaming Footprints. Read these right along with Nancy, the Hardy Boys and Trixie Belden. I’m glad to hear that they still entertained you as an adult. I do hate it when I go back to to something I read when I was young and just can’t see the appeal now.


    • I do wonder why these are out of print. Still, there will be more to come – I’ve ordered a couple of “3 in 1” editions, which includes my favourite, The Mystery of the Blazing Cliffs. Should be fun.


      • About being OP…I don’t know. Maybe it’s because you just don’t hear about the Investigators the way you do Nancy and the Boys. And both Nancy and the Hardy Boys have been updated, so they’ve been introduced to new generations–maybe that prompts young readers to go back to the original stories.


      • There’s a very interesting Wikipedia page on the Three Investigators. There was a modernised version of them released in 1989 but terminated over copyright issues. However in Germany, there have been nearly 100 extra books written, alongside radio dramas and a couple of TV films!


  2. […] In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel Spoiler Free Reviews of Fair Play Detective Fiction Skip to content HomePaul DohertyHugh CorbettThe Sorrowful Mysteries of Brother AthelstanAmerotke, Chief Judge of ThebesThe Journals of Roger ShallotThe Canterbury TalesThe Ancient Rome MysteriesMathilde of WestminsterAlexander The GreatKathryn SwinbrookeOther Historical MysteriesAlys ClareAriana FranklinSteve HockensmithMichael JecksBernard KnightPeter TremayneSir Henry MerrivaleClassic BibliographiesAgatha ChristieEllery QueenSherlock HolmesChallenges2012 ChallengesThe Mystery Tour of the USAThe Author ← The Secret Of The Haunted Mirror by M V Carey […]


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