The second in my “reviewing books from my childhood” posts. See the first review for Thirteen here.
Girl detectives aren’t really my thing. People love that Stephanie Plum series but I just don’t get it.
Of course I made an exception for Veronica Mars but it did take me 20 episodes to warm up to her.
Back in the day though girl detectives were totally my thing. As a pre-teen I read Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden voraciously. So it was with delight that I plucked Trixie Belden and the Mystery at Bob White Cave from a dusty box in the garage and prepared to revisit a character that had been a favourite. (By “Kathryn Kenny” – a pseudonym for a variety of ghost writers.)
I remember liking Trixie because she seemed more modern, energetic and fun than Nancy. Less of a know-it-all. I remembered wrong. Because my high-brow literary insight into this book is: it was balls.
There was no magic here, just a trudge through a very testing story where I was just expected to accept that Trixie is this all-knowing girl genius whose impetuous, selfish ways should be accepted just because she’s Trixie. She’s Earnest with a capital E and almost completely unrelatable, as are the rest of the cast of characters who pretty much have nothing to do in this story except support Trixie.
Imma walk you through the plot as quick as possible, ok? Trixie and her family/friends that form the ‘Bob Whites’ club go and visit her uncle in the Ozark mountains. While there they search for three species of a rare “ghost fish” so they can win a $500 prize from a magazine that they want to put towards a van for “the crippled children”. The story uses the phrase “crippled children” more than I was strictly comfortable with.
Anyway their uncle sets them up with a guide named Slim to take them through local caves to look for the fish. Trixie hates Slim on sight, immediately judges him to be a bad person and SPOILER ALERT is right about him, simply because she’s Trixie.
And, while they don’t find the fish the magazine were looking for they SPOILER ALERT find an even rarer species of fish that’ll earn them even more money for the crippled children. And they only had to look in one cave…
There’s other things that happen too but I’ve already forgotten.
This was not a happy trip back in time, but is Trixie ruined forever for me? Well, no. The ghost fish story was not very engaging and the 60s dialogue was a touch too dated for me (Exhibit A: “If we’d stayed home, we’d have been earning some money for the new Bob-White project. That’s what Dan’s doing. We’ll feel plenty silly if we have nothing to contribute towards the station wagon to take crippled children to the Sleepyside School. I hate this whole place!” – Trixie, five seconds before she decided finding “ghost fish” was a good money spinner).
Despite all this I did rediscover something about Trixie that is kinda cool – her tomboy tendencies. While all the other ladies in her world are content to bake, sew curtains and look after children she’s a go-getter, happy to roll up her sleeves alongside the boys and get her hands dirty, and I think that’s a lesson that’s worth keeping from my childhood.
Were you a Trixie fan? Tell me your favourite – I think the Mystery of Bob White Cave is possibly the worst of the entire series?