Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Trixie Belden & the Mystery on the Mississippi

Trixie Belden and the Mystery on the Mississippi (1965) by Kathryn Kenny finds the all but one of the Bob-Whites (Diana is vacationing with her parents) in St. Louis, Missouri. The friends are invited by Mr. Wheeler, Honey and Jim's dad, to travel with him as he takes a business trip. While they have every intention of having a good, old-fashioned vacation--visiting a space rocket exhibit and following in the footsteps of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, you know that wherever Trixie goes, she's sure to stumble across a mystery that just needs solving. In this adventure, she and Honey haven't even gotten settled into their hotel room before it starts.

A briefcase with papers was left behind in their room and a very rude man bursts in and snatches it--accusing the girls of trying to steal his property. After he leaves, Trixie discover more papers in the trash can--graph papers with odd drawings on them just like those in the briefcase. She and Honey become convinced that the man is a spy and the papers have something to do with the top-secret space program. When they keep seeing the man and his fancy car as they go about their vacation, Trixie is even more convinced that he's at the bottom of something nefarious. She doesn't know how right she is and soon she and Honey will face their most dangerous situation yet.

Trixie Belden is one of the many young detectives whose adventures I followed when I was young. I may not have been quite as dedicated in collecting her books as I was Nancy Drew--I have all of the original hardback Drews--but I was definitely on the hunt for Trixie stories when a new (to me) Nancy Drew mystery wasn't available. Trixie, whose first book was published in 1948 was in many ways a more realistic character for a middle-class girl to relate to. I might have wanted to be Nancy with her roadster and the ability to travel anywhere in the world at the drop of a hat, but it was far easier to see myself as Trixie--the tomboyish girl with a quick temper. I admired Trixie's determination to learn detecting as a skill so she and Honey will be able to open the Belden-Wheeler Detective Agency when they are adults.

Rereading this particular story, I'm struck by how intense the danger really is. I didn't remember the villains in any of the Trixie stories being so particularly nasty, but this villain is discussing the ways in which he considers murdering the two girls. It is quite intense for a young adult/childrens story from the time period. Of course, since it is a story aimed at the pre-teen crowd, the girls are rescued and there are no murders, but the deaths he contemplates for them are very unpleasant. I was also struck by the way Honey disagrees with Trixie over whether another person is involved with the plot. It's my recollection that Honey is very loyal to Trixie and her hunches and instincts about people. This time, Honey's insistence that she knows "people pretty well, and I'd trust her with anything.  She's so motherly." leads the girls into the trap that comes near to ending their detective careers.

Still--this was a very entertaining read and it was fun to go back and revisit a book from my childhood. ★★★★

First entry for  the 1965 Club bookish meme.
Calendar = May: title with word beginning with "M"


reese said...

If I still had my old Trixie Belden books around I'd reread that for #1965Club for sure. I read plenty of Nancy Drew (and Hardy Boys for that matter) but the Trixie Belden ones were my favorite.

Bev Hankins said...

The Trixie books were always good. I loved Nancy--probably because those were the first mysteries I ever read and the books were my mom's.

Mark Baker said...

I love Trixie! While I agree with you about the issues in this book (Mr. Wheeler? What was he thinking?), this one will always hold a special place in my heart because it was the very first one I ever read. It was enough to turn me into a life long fan.

CLM said...

I think Trixie is the only juvenile series I never read as a child. I read Nancy Drew but always preferred the Dana Girls (although when I read one to my nieces a couple years ago they found it hysterically funny which is not what the Syndicate anticipated) and Judy Bolton...