The Mystery of the Hidden House by Enid Blyton (Methuen, 1948) Fatty and Co. invent a mystery to dupe Goon’s nephew, who then stumbles upon the real thing. Blyton takes the story into more adult territory (corporeal punishment, kidnapping) and hints at a lesson in consequences, though never quite bringing out the moral.
The Mystery of the Missing Necklace by Enid Blyton (Methuen, 1947) Entertaining but something of a misstep. Fatty proves fallible, Goon shows himself to have brains, and the Five Find-Outers shadow and disrupt a police investigation rather than go about solving the mystery themselves. (Also, the gang members’ secret communications seem needlessly convoluted.)
The Mystery of the Spiteful Letters by Enid Blyton (Methuen, 1946) The Five Find-Outers hit their stride and Fatty, assured beyond his years, comes to the fore as their cheeky, disguise-wearing, outrageously daring leader. The mystery in this instance remains slight but the plot is cleverly structured around the children’s interactions with Goon.
The Mystery of the Disappearing Cat by Enid Blyton (Methuen, 1944) In this second book, Blyton still has the Five Find-Outers (and dog) as a fairly generic group of kids happening upon a mystery and solving it largely through happenstance. A spot of Goon-baiting aside, they are yet to come into their own.
The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage by Enid Blyton (Methuen, 1943) The first Five Find-Outers novel works well as a standalone, though lacking the assuredness and personality of later volumes. As Blyton feels her way, many elements of this great series emerge in nascent form. Only Fatty’s disguises (and latterly Ern) are missing.
The Mystery of the Secret Room by Enid Blyton (Methuen, 1945); audiobook read by Ann Beach (Chivers, 2010) The third book in the series but perhaps the best place to start if new to children’s detective fiction and/or the Five Found-Outers (and dog). Fatty and the others come into their own, outwitting Goon the policeman while solving another mystery. …