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Literature / Five Find-Outers

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The Five Find-Outers and Dog are five friends living in Peterswood Village who solve mysteries together with a dog, Buster. The Find-Outers are Laurence "Larry" Daykin, Frederick Algernon "Fatty" Trotteville, Philip "Pip" Hilton, Margaret "Daisy" Daykin and Elizabeth "Bets" Hilton. Buster the dog belongs to Fatty.

Apart from tackling criminals, the children have to face the wrath of the bumbling, interfering village policeman, P.C Theophilus Goon, who bears a grudge against Fatty for solving crimes before him. Recurring characters include Inspector Jenks, friend of the children, and Ern Goon, PC Goon's nephew who sometimes comes to stay with his uncle for the school holidays.


One of the more popular of Enid Blyton's series, which may be due to the sense of old time and nostalgia in the books (the series was started in the 1940's).

Books in the series:

  • The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage (1943)
  • The Mystery of the Disappearing Cat (1944)
  • The Mystery of the Secret Room (1945)
  • The Mystery of the Spiteful Letters (1946)
  • The Mystery of the Missing Necklace (1947)
  • The Mystery of the Hidden House (1948)
  • The Mystery of the Pantomime Cat (1949)
  • The Mystery of the Invisible Thief (1950)
  • The Mystery of the Vanished Prince (1951)
  • The Mystery of the Strange Bundle (1952)
  • The Mystery of Holly Lane (1953)
  • The Mystery of Tally-Ho Cottage (1954)
  • The Mystery of the Missing Man (1956)
  • The Mystery of the Strange Messages (1957)
  • The Mystery of Banshee Towers (1961)


Tropes present in this work are:

  • The Ace: Fatty excels in both his studies and sports (including poetry), is a highly gifted actor, able to solve crimes better than the police, and is very rich too.
  • Adults Are Useless: Wherever there is a problem the Find-Outers must resolve it.
    • Subverted with Inspector Jenks, though he rarely shows up before the last chapter.
    • Not with the mysteries, but Fatty's parents, particularly his mother, always have his back when it comes to Mr Goon throwing around unjustified accusations. One heartwarming moment in Banshee Towers has Fatty putting up Ern in the Find-Outer's headquarters (the shed at the bottom of the garden) because Ern's too terrified of Goon to stay in his house; Mrs Trotteville finds Fatty raiding the linen closet for blankets and when he reassures her that he's doing A Good Deed, trusts him enough not to question him further.
  • Beneath Suspicion: One of the suspects in The Mystery of the Pantomime Cat has such an airtight alibi the Find-Outers initially don't think it's worth checking. Guess who turns out to be the robber?
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  • Big Brother Mentor: Fatty towards Bets, more than her real brother.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Attempted. During Missing Man, wannabe Sixth Ranger Eunice gets Fatty to take her along on a stakeout. When he's caught and imprisoned in a caravan, Eunice finds him, realizes she can't get him free, and tells him she's going for help. Unfortunately, she's a stranger to Peterswood and gets lost in the dark, foggy night. She sensibly waits for daylight and races to the nearest Find-Outer, however Pip's already got the wind up enough to call in Inspector Jenks.
  • Comic-Book Time: avoided. The timeline's a little shaky, but by the end of the series all the Find-Outers have aged five years.
  • Cool Garage: variant. Fatty's 'shed at the bottom of the garden' is quite possibly a prototype of a man cave. It's Fatty's personal sanctuary, home to all his disguises, and the Find-Outers' headquarters. Ern even secretly moves into it in Banshee Towers.
  • Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: In Missing Man, Fatty's family host entomologist Mr Tolling, a classic absent minded scientist. His teenage daughter, Eunice, keeps their life running smoothly, and is almost as much The Ace as Fatty. As a result of growing up alone with her father, Eunice is annoyingly competent at everything in sight and isn't very good at reading social cues, thus not realizing how much she tends to annoy people - especially Fatty.
  • Cut-and-Paste Note: In one of the books, Goon starts receiving these from an anonymous source, trying to get him to look into a specific house. Goon is particularly annoyed by the fact that his name is always written in lower-case. This becomes a plot point that allows one of the kids to figure out which newspaper is being used for the words. The reason for the lower-case "goon" is because the full word is "Rangoon".
  • Early Installment Weirdness: reading the first book, Burnt Cottage, it's a bit strange to see Larry, Daisy and Pip having trouble getting along with Fatty, or constantly challenging him about his boasting (which is always true).
  • Elective Broken Language: Downplayed in The Mystery of the Vanished Prince: Bets and her friends pose as Princess Bongawee and her retinue as a part of a prank. They speak broken English and their own made-up language.
  • Embarrassing First Name: While it's never stated outright, surely Mr Goon has some issues with being named 'Theophilus'?
  • Embarrassing Initials: Frederick Algernon Trotteville. And yes, he is fat.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Downplayed. Fatty doesn't really like being called Fatty (for obvious reasons), but he dislikes being called "Frederick" even more, so he puts up with it.
  • Fat Bastard: Mr Goon. Totally averted with Fatty.
  • Food Porn: The children's tea-time food is described often. A popular place for them to eat is a tea-shop, where they order buns and cocoa. There is also a dairy mentioned in The Mystery of the Vanished Prince, where they have ice-creams.
  • Fair Play Mystery: All of them, though Banshee Towers is more of a 'howdunnit' than 'whodunnit'. Even the book where an alibi is pulled off via Twin Switch has an earlier remark about twin jokes in the theatre.
  • Fake Mystery: In The Mystery of the Pantomime Cat, the Five Find-Outers plant a bunch of suspicious trail as a prank to lead Mr. Goon into a wild goose chase. This gets played for drama later on when a real case inevitably shows up and the false clue they planted winds up almost incriminating an innocent suspect.
  • Foreshadowing: Early in Tally-Ho Cottage, when the Find-Outers meet the Larkins, they're such caricatures that Bets immediately asks Fatty when he'll disguise himself as Mr Larkin. Later in the book, Fatty does just that, and the events of that night help Fatty figure out that the fugitive Lorenzo's - already stated to be unsuccessful actors - have swapped places with and are impersonating the Larkins.
  • Hero Worship: Bets for Fatty. Justified by Bets being four years younger than the others, and the only one who doesn't go to boarding school; only child Fatty sees her as a treasured little sister rather than a tagalong pest like Pip or too far apart in age to have much in common, like Larry and Daisy.
  • Hidden Depths: she may be the youngest, but if Fatty's having trouble working out the clues, a remark by Bets will usually put him on the right track - she's the one who tells Fatty where to find the titular Missing Necklace, for example, and it's her noticing something odd about her favourite painting at Banshee Towers that kicks off the plot. She's also the only Find-Outer who has ever seen through one of Fatty's disguises.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: A non-lethal example in Burnt Cottage. The owner of the aforementioned cottage mentions seeing a flying display that took place on the day the cottage burnt down, at a time when he was meant to be miles away on business; prompting Fatty to start the chain of deductive reasoning that leads to the children working out that the man burnt down the cottage himself as part of an insurance scam.
  • Master Actor: Fatty; not only is he a Master of Disguise, but he can create a new character to match each disguise and act and react in that persona. He's never seen in-series as part of a formal stage performance, but he's downright brilliant at improv - look at how he finishes all of Ern's poems.
  • Master of Disguise: Fatty. The escaped convict in Missing Man is explicitly described as this.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: in both Hidden House and Pantomime Cat, a prank played by the children on a substitute policeman leads said policeman to the spot where a crime is being committed. It's especially awkward for the children in the second, because their most outlandish clues directly implicate one of the (innocent, naturally) suspects.
  • One Steve Limit: Played with. There are two Elizabeths in the series, but use very different nicknames: series regular 'Bets' Hilton, and Tally-Ho Cottage guest star 'Liz' Woosh.
  • Police Are Useless:
    • Mr Goon. Several times he befriends the criminal, and refuses to rescue Fatty from their clutches. The children end up solving the crime before him. He is also very fat and unable to run fast.
    • Averted with Inspector Jenks, who is also promoted several times during the series.
  • Refuge in Audacity:
    • Fatty's disguises. The scenes during Missing Necklace where he disguises himself as a waxwork figure are the peak of this trope in-series.
    • The thief in The Mystery of the Invisible Thief, who goes into houses he's just robbed to search for the thief.
  • Running Gag: There are several minor ones (including Fatty using his ventriloquism skills to prank Mr Goon), but the most enduring (and the funniest) is Ern's 'pomes', his constant Writer's Block, and Fatty always being to improvise a funny continuation to them. Also Fatty coming home to Petersville later than the others, who try to find him in disguise at the station; sometimes they find him (usually Bets), sometimes they don't.
  • Sixth Ranger: in several books, Goon's nephew Ern shows up; he becomes almost as big a fan of Fatty as Bets. His attempts at poetry is the series' longest Running Gag. Whenever he visits, Ern spends as much time as possible far away from his uncle, because Goon's treatment of him varies between shouting, more shouting, and threatening to 'box his ears' or similar.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: The early books set up the Find-Outers around the Larry, Daisy and Pip trio, with Larry as the leader and Fatty and Bets as unwanted hanger-ons. By the third book Fatty takes over as leader and the rest of the series is pretty much "The Fatty Show" with Bets as his sidekick, while the others hang in the background. By the end of the series, readers know just to wait for Bets to drop a innocent observation that triggers Fatty cracking the case.
  • The Butler Did It: in Spitefull Letters the vindictive anonymous letter writer turns out to be Mrs Moon, the cook at the Hilton's household.
  • Those Two Guys: seems to run in Mr Goon's extended family. Ern has twin younger brothers, Sid and Perce, and his cousins Liz and Glad might as well be.
  • Uncle Pennybags: Whenever the Find-Outers go out to eat, Fatty is the one who pays for it all, since he has much more money than the other kids. (It's also how he accumulates all his disguises; it's made clear it's not a very cheap hobby.) This is occasionally lampshaded in the narrative; whenever Larry or Pip are unusually flush for some reason, they insist on paying the next time.
  • You Meddling Kids: Some of the villains say this. Goon occasionally complains about the children interfering in his job, despite the fact that he never could resolve the cases on his own.