The Enid Blyton Society
The Mystery of Banshee Towers
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Book Details...

First edition: 1961
Publisher: Methuen
Illustrator: Lilian Buchanan
Category: Five Find-Outers
Genre: Mystery/Adventure
Type: Novels/Novelettes

On This Page...

Reprint Covers
Artwork
Review by Robert Houghton
Further Illustrations

Reprints


Wraparound dustwrapper from the 1st edition, illustrated by Lilian Buchanan



1st German edition published by Erika Klopp Verlag in 1964,
illustrated by Egbert von Normann with the title Mystery of the Blue Boat
Foreign Titles
German: Geheimnis um ein blaues Boot
French: Le Mystère de la chaloupe verte
Dutch: De Vijf Detectives – De verborgen tunnel
Spanish: Misterio del Torreon del Duende
Portuguese: O Mistério da Torre Assombrada
Swedish: Mysteriet I Spokslottet
Finnish: Haamulinnan salaisuus
Greek: Tpomoe Eton Iiypto


There was a gap of four years between The Mystery of the Strange Messages and the next book, The Mystery of Banshee Towers, (1961). It is the weakest book of the series, and it is obvious to anyone who reads it that Enid was clearly not at all interested in continuing the series. Maybe the onset of her dementia is also reflected in this poor shadow of the earlier books, as many things seemed to have changed in the four years since The Mystery of the Strange Messages.

I myself felt an air of sadness pervading this book. It has a strange feeling to it that I can't explain. Gone are the finely detailed scenes of slapstick humour as seen in the other books. Gone is the wonderfully mysterious atmosphere, the piles of amazing clues that used to be such fun to find out. The Mystery of Banshee Towers seems to be written to a formula; it is tired and lifeless, with only very occasional flashes of humour, which is often severely strained, such as in the closing pages. Instead, we have a plot that is similar to a Famous Five book but without the thrills and spills that make them such special books. For the first time in the series Enid relies on a secret passage, which seems totally out of place. There is a stolen painting, and a fake one in its place, but it seems very unlikely that the forger would have been so silly as to miss a boat out of his fake which could clearly be seen in the original. This is the main clue, and once again it is Bets that notices it. The way in which the paintings are being taken away — in tubes during renovation work — is ingenious, but still the story pales into insignificance when compared to the others. Indeed, it seems almost to have been written for other characters and merely transcribed into a 'Fatty Mystery' at a later date, so different in style is it from the rest.

It seems obvious that Enid intended this book to be the last. Ern is once again brought into the story, but one feels it is only really for old time's sake, as if to say good-bye to the readers, and not for any reason of plot. Goon is delightfully (or aggravatingly, depending on how you see it) over the top as usual, and everyone laughs dutifully at Fatty's jokes, especially the banshee noises, but surprisingly, considering all this, Fatty doesn't disguise himself once and he even fails to see through Mr. Engler, who is one of Enid's most obvious villains. It seems that even after fifteen mysteries Fatty still has quite a bit to learn regards judging character!

The most glaring mistake in The Mystery of Banshee Towers however, was obviously due to Enid's failing memory. Superintendent Jenks is demoted to Inspector again without any explanation. Was he involved in police corruption?! Did he fail to catch enough crooks during Fatty's four-year absence from detecting? It is obviously an oversight, but one that seems extremely glaring when you read the books one after the other.

The Mystery of Banshee Towers is also the shortest book of the series. The others averaged around twenty-three or twenty-four chapters, but this one has only eighteen. To compensate, the printing is spaced out more, to give the impression that this is a much longer read than it actually is. Clearly Enid knew the book's weaknesses. Maybe she was just answering the usual cries for another book and another and another... Whatever it was, it seems a great pity that such a brilliantly written series of books should end with one of the weakest stories Enid ever wrote.

Despite this, and a few other small glitches, The Fatty books are still some of the best loved of Enid's works. Maybe they don't quite get the recognition that they deserve. Maybe they are somewhat overshadowed by the Famous Five and Secret Seven, but they are still there, on the shelves of most bookshops. Like many of Enid's books, the Find-Outers are still popular with children today, and that, with all the competition of computers, TV, video, etc. must surely be the strongest testimony of all. These illustrations are hidden by default to ensure faster browsing. Loading the illustrations is recommended for high-speed internet users only.