The Enid Blyton Society
Five Have a Mystery to Solve
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Book Details...

First edition: 1962
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Illustrator: Eileen A. Soper
Category: Famous Five
Genre: Mystery/Adventure
Type: Novels/Novelettes

On This Page...

Reprint Covers
Review by Terry Gustafson
Further Illustrations


Dustwrapper from the 1st edition, illustrated by Eileen A. Soper

1st German edition published by Mosaik Verlag, Hamburg in 1966,
illustrated by Nikolaus Plump with the title Five Friends Make a Discovery
Foreign Titles
German: Fünf Freunde machen eine Entdeckung
French: Le Club des Cinq et le Vieux Puits
Dutch: De Vijf en de schat op het Fluistereiland
Spanish: Los Cinco han de resolver un enigma
Portuguese: Os Cinco na Ilha dos Murmúrios
Swedish: Fem löser en gåta
Danish: De fem på den hviskende ø
Finnish: Viisikko Kuiskausten Saarella
Russian: Taina solotich statui
Slovakian: Slavna Patka riesi nepochopitalnu zahada
Slovenian: 5 Prijateljev Skrivnost Sepetajocega otoka
Icelandic: Fimm og leynihellirinn

Brief Summary by Poppy Hutchinson: Adventure awaits, Julian, Dick, George, Anne and Timothy when they are asked to stay at Hill Cottage, in the company of Wilfred: an unusual boy, with a gift for communicating with animals. Not far from the shore, lies Whispering Island – a place which seems to be riddled with eerie secrets and legends, involving some strange gleaming statues, and armed men on the island! Can the Five piece together the mystery and uncover the secrets that surround Whispering Island?

Full Review (This may contain spoilers):

Terry Gustafson's Review
"Dear children, especially Famous Five Club Members — here is the twenty-first adventure of the Famous Five." At least that's what is stated in the 1967 version of the book so it might be worth checking the Foreword in your own copies to ensure that everything is bona-fide. This Kirrin tale is, of course, the 20th.
Julian, Dick and Anne, three stalwarts of the Famous Five tales, are visited by an old family friend — a Mrs Layman who owns a cottage in the hills overlooking the harbour. She wonders if the children would like to stay there and keep her grandson company because she has to visit a sick cousin. She's taken up on the offer and soon they, plus Georgina (George) their cousin, travel to the holiday home and encounter Wilfred — Mrs Layman's grandson who, at first, is rather against the influx of visitors but he likes Timmy so he decides to accept them all. Once again here is a lad who has an almost magical sway over animals and I think Philip Mannering would be hard put to match this new character in the Enid Blyton armoury. Wilfred has been created in the mould of several others who are particularly talented where animals and birds are concerned although he may be just a little too Pied-Piperish (he even has a pipe) to be as real as those other similarly gifted individuals. Nevertheless, he exists and the reader can be the final arbiter. This boy even extends his powers into the insect world where he manages to attract a spider. Strictly speaking, a spider is an arachnid as opposed to an insect but in either case the exercise demonstrates Wilfred's extraordinary talent despite the feeling that the author went a little bit overboard in her effort to make a hanger-on stand out a bit.

The harbour which the cottage overlooks is apparently second in size to the one at Sydney in Australia according to Mrs Layman who visits them to see how they are getting on. A few other things are authentic in this tale and Enid Blyton has added a Special Note about them ... there's a nearby golf course that EB would have visited in her halcyon days and an island out from the shore which is also from real life although it has been given a different name in the book.

Wilfred is initially a bit of a pain but unexpectedly Anne, of all people, puts him in his place so the mildest of the group is definitely becoming more assertive. The time arrives for a Tale-to-be-Told and this one is about the aforementioned island which has been called Wailing Island by the locals or Whispering Island because of the Enchanted Wood-like trees that seem to whisper in the strong winds over that way. The teller of the story was one of Enid Blyton's real-life friends by the name of Lucas and he was a groundsman at the golf-course. He reveals to the five children that a house of stone was built on the island a long time ago and it was filled with treasures by its owner who was eventually ousted because he apparently fell foul of the authorities. There was a re-occupation but now the island with its building is supposed to be empty of life save for the rabbits and snakes and birds. There are rumours that people have visited the place and never come back, and, according to the golf-course manager whom they meet later in the day, the police at one stage made a search of the island but apart from the keepers in charge at the time, nothing untoward was found.

You're not supposed to visit the place of legend but the Famous Five need an excuse seeing they are the stars of the book so in a hired rowing boat called Adventure they head for the Wailing/Whispering Island. They manage to become mildly shipwrecked near the shore and are therefore able to begin investigating. Wilfred is not with them because he's gone to look for his animal-attracting flute which he has lost somewhere but he manages to rejoin them later. Once again the Five are in a Fix because not only does the hired boat disappear, but they also find that armed men are on the island! Then a well with a bucket in which a child can be raised or lowered is located and this helps them to make a discovery of major significance. There's also a frightening experience where Timmy, who has weathered many attacks and violent situations in his life, almost dies! Things continue on and at a later stage the children enter a strange place which, despite the beauty it conceals, is fraught with danger. After still more excitement and thrills — at least for the Kirrins plus Wilfred, and a situation where Anne, with Timmy's help once again demonstrates the tiger-like aggression she has been acquiring since about 1947, their 20th adventure draws to a close with the Famous Five lying around sunbathing on a hillside, Wilfred playing his flute, and all the animals and birds gathering round to listen to the Pied Piper of Hill Cottage. These illustrations are hidden by default to ensure faster browsing. Loading the illustrations is recommended for high-speed internet users only.