Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Mystery of the Talking Skull: Review

The Three Investigators #11
The Mystery of the Talking Skull (1969)
by Robert Arthur

Jupiter Jones, chief investigator of The Three Investigators detective agency, decides that he wants to attend an auction and brings fellow investigators, Pete Crenshaw and Bob Andrews, along. It's all part of the gathering of experiences so they can be  well-informed detectives. While at the auction, Jupiter becomes interested in an old trunk that belonged to the Great Gulliver. The Great Gulliver was a mediocre magician who had one great trick--a talking skull who could predict the future. He is the only bidder and becomes the proud owner for only $1. 

He's barely taken possession of the trunk before people start clamoring to buy it from him. There's the elderly lady who reached the auction just moments too late to bid and offers $25 for it, and Maximilian the Magnificent who flaunts $100 and claims to want the trunk of his good friend Gulliver "for old times sake." There's also the mysterious men who keep hanging around The Jones Salvage Yard, owned by Jupiter's aunt & uncle, and who try to steal the trunk. Obviously, the trunk holds a valuable secret--but is it more than just a talking skull magic trick? Once Socrates, the skull, begins talking to him, Jupiter and The Three Investigators just might find out!

I've got a lot of nostalgia for this series. I first discovered them when I went with my then best friend and her family on a shopping trip to the big malls in Ft. Wayne. I was the one insisting on stopping at all the bookstores and had never heard of "Alfred Hitchcock & the Three Investigators," but I couldn't resist a new mystery series and grabbed up two or three of the novels. This is one of the titles that I missed reading back in the day. I have to say that I miss the Alfred Hitchcock connection--I mean, I know that Hitchcock just lent his name to the series and Random House decided to change the host when he died, but it was fun having him as the mentor for the boys. This newer edition has some guy named Hector Sebastian (apparently, after a little Google research, a fictional mystery writer)--not nearly as interesting to me.

It was still fun to revisit a childhood favorite and I enjoyed following along with the boys as they tracked down clues, entered their Headquarters through the secret tunnels in the junkyard, and ultimately discovered the secret hidden in the trunk and in Socrates's mysterious messages. Good solid adventure for young readers with a mystery that they can solve even before Jupiter does (I did!). ★★

[Finished on 5/13/17]
Fulfills the "Map/Chart" category on the Silver Vintage Scavenger Hunt card.


Jean said...

I love the Three Investigators so much. My brother found me a whole stack of the old hardbacks and I went through them like they were potato chips. :)

Q said...

I, too, love The 3 Investigators. I think I read "The Secret of Terror Castle" a million times when I was a child. Recently, I was able to find a copy and I encouraged a friend of mine to read it and they loved it as well. I wish I now owned all of the series. I do remember The Talking Skull being just as awesome as the rest. I am thrilled you read it and enjoyed it (again)!

J.G. said...

I love re-reading the books I enjoyed when I was younger; it's one of the sweetest pleasures of reading, when I make the time to do it. Glad this was such a nice experience for you!