The Mystery Of The Magic Circle by M V Carey

At the moment, I feel like I’m juggling about twenty different things – so it’s been hard to settle into a rhythm of reading. So I thought I’d go for the ultimate in quick reads – a children’s book, and a return to the series that got me interested in real detective stories, The Three Investigators. Jupiter Jones, Pete Crenshaw and Bob Andrews investigating all sorts of nefarious crimes (apart from actual murder). Sometimes veering into Scooby Doo territory (notably The Mystery of the Dancing Devil), sometimes genuinely scary (The Mystery of the Invisible Dog), I loved these books when I was much younger. I’ve already tackled The Secret Of The Haunted Mirror, so on to The Mystery Of The Magic Circle.

The lads are helping out their new friend, publisher Beefy (honest) Tremayne, who has just taken possession of the manuscript – hand-written, only copy – of the memoirs of the great and reclusive Hollywood actress Madeline Bainbridge. Before you can say Hocus Pocus, the publishing house has burnt to the ground, the memoirs have been stolen and the negatives of Madeline’s films, which have been hoarded by her for years, are been held for ransom. Needless to say, it’s the Three Investigators to the rescue!

Quick read, so quick review. It’s becoming a little clearer to me that I prefered the most Scooby-ish books in the series. There’s some stuff about a magic circle of witches that Bainbridge used to lead, and a vague hint of magical powers, but there’s no loony dressed up in a witch’s costume running around.

Instead, there’s a decent little mystery here and it’s well-hidden. For a while, it looks like a straightforward tale, with one villain revealing their hand pretty early one and another being pretty obvious. But if you stick around, there’s a mild surprise which is clued (just).

So,  a fair enough read but certainly not the strongest book in the series. Next time I revisit  the series, I’ll be looking at one of the Scooby-esque ones.

BTW – sorry for the lack of image, but it’s from a compilation which thoughtless has used the cover of a different book on the cover.

12 comments

  1. Lord, that takes me back! I used to devour these books when they came out. Far preferable to the soppy Hardy Boys. But they lost it for me by the time they got to the Mystery of the Headless Horse – yes, horse. The rider had a noggin, but not his mount.

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    • Not read that one… actually sounds rather fun. It’ll be the later book The Mystery Of The Blazing Cliffs – UFOs! – when I get back to the series. Very fond memories of that one…

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  2. I, too, loved these when I was young. I distinctly remember a trip to Ft. Wayne with my (then) best friend. I was ecstatic to find a whole shelf of Three Investigator books and walked out with a bagful. I did not understand why she was not as gleeful as I—of course, she no doubt could not figure out why I didn’t save my glee for the Video Arcade just around the corner. I read one of my books while she played Pacman…..

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  3. I haven’t read this but the name of one of the characters caught my eye, Jupiter Jones, as that’s also the name of the Harvard detective created by Timothy Fuller in his novels of the 30s and 40s! As a kid I did use to read the novels featuring Alfred Hitchcock and the three investigator which I remember liking a lot at the time but have no idea why now … I might try and rediscover them though, thanks Steve.

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  4. I loved these books as a kid and I think I read every one. My father was a scrap dealer and I grew up in a junk yard, so I always identified a little with Jupiter. As mysteries, I think these were far superior to the Hardy Boys, even the especially hokey ones. Some of the early books, The Stuttering Parrot & The Whispering Mummy, I remember as being especially strong. I also recall The Dead Man’s Riddle being pretty clever.

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    • There’s a couple of other reviews that I’ve done if you check the search box on the right. And The Invisible Dog is probably coming soon as I remember loving it (and being terrified by it) when I was young.

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