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Literature / Trixie Belden

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Trixie and her best friend, Honey.

The Trixie Belden series is a series of girl detective novels, written between 1948 and 1986. The first six books, which introduced the main cast, were written by Julie Campbell Tatham, while the remaining 33 were ghost-written by a variety of authors under the pseudonym Kathryn Kenny.

The titular Trixie is a thirteen year old girl who lives in the fictional town of Sleepyside-on-Hudson, in New York State. She and her three brothers (sixteen year old Brian, fourteen year old Mart, and six year old Bobby) live on Crabapple Farm, which has been in their family for at least three generations. The first book sets up Trixie developing a friendship with Honey Wheeler, a lonely rich girl who has just moved into the Manor House next to their farm, and the two investigating the case of fifteen year old Jim Frayne, who has run away from his abusive stepfather, and who is adopted by Honey's parents at the end of the second book. The two girls were behind the forming of their club, the Bob-Whites of the Glen, or BWGs, which consisted of Trixie, Brian, Mart, Honey, Jim, local girl Diana Lynch, and New York City orphan and ex-street-gang member, Dan Mangan.

Six of the seven club members were paired off romantically, though romance was rarely explicit in the books; Honey had a long-standing crush on Brian, Mart and Diana developed feelings for each other, and Trixie and Jim had something of a romance, though this was downplayed in later books.

This series contained examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Jim's stepfather was physically and emotionally abusive. He once tied Jim down and left him to rot for three days after Jim tried to run away.
  • Adults Are Useless: The main characters are teenagers who solve mysteries that the adults cannot.
  • Aesop Amnesia: Dan learned the importance of trusting others to help him with his problems at least four separate times.
  • Aloof Big Brother: Though technically Regan is Dan's uncle, Dan is only 7-8 years younger than him. Regan rarely seems to interact with Dan througout the entire series and deliberately distances himself from Dan during the latter's introduction.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Trixie's younger brother, Bobby. He never saw any punishment for his brattiness, either.
    • Police Are Useless: Somehow, this group of teenagers was more able to solve mysteries than the police force.
  • Amateur Sleuth: The series is based on the premise of amateur sleuthing.
  • As You Know: In a particularly grating use of this trope, several books have characters narrating through the dialogue. Books #7, 9, 11, and 12 are particularly guilty of this.
  • Big Applesauce: A lot of the plot of The Mystery of the Blinking Eye conspicuously takes place around big New York landmarks.
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and Yeti: In The Mystery of the Sasquatch, the Bob-Whites are camping in the woods and have several encounters with what they believe to be a sasquatch. It turns out to be a man in a snow-suit.
  • Black-and-White Morality: There will never be any gray.
  • Busman's Holiday: The number of plots that kicked off with 'at least Trixie can't find a mystery here' was staggering.
  • Chastity Couple / No Hugging, No Kissing: The books as a whole kept the budding romances non-explicit, but this is particularly apparent, particularly to modern eyes, in the case of Trixie and Jim. Their mutual attraction was mentioned several times throughout the series, and Trixie frequently wore an identification bracelet that Jim had given her, and a locket containing his photograph, but they rarely so much as held hands or hugged, and never kissed.
  • Conveniently Precise Translation: In The Mystery of the Blinking Eye, the prophecy written by the strange Mexican woman at the airport rhymes perfectly when translated from Spanish into English. The Bob-Whites argue over whether a line should be read "big headed man" (a man with a large head), or "big-headed man" (a man who thinks a lot of himself), but this double-meaning would not have existed in the original Spanish; it is an artifact of the translation.
  • Everybody Hates Mathematics: Well, Trixie and Honey do, at least.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Dan and Regan. Must be In the Blood.
  • Happily Adopted: Jim
  • Happily Married: The Beldens, The Wheelers, and the Lynchs.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Jane Morgan of The Mystery of the Velvet Gown was suffering from a case of the Green-Eyed Monster, but as she pointed out, Diana had considerable difficulty with her lines and may not have been the best lead for the play.
  • Kid Detective: Trixie and Honey especially, but the other characters get in on the act also.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The prophecy in Mystery Of The Blinking Eye. Was it really foretelling what would happen on their New York trip, or was each line apparently predicting an event merely interpreted that way afterwards? Notably, this is one of the very few mysteries that involves anything paranormal in any sense; although others mention things like "cursed emeralds" or the sasquatch, the magical angle is never explored, or thoroughly debunked.
  • Mystery Magnet: Trixie specifically, but the Bob-Whites in general.
  • National Stereotypes: Inevitable with Japanese men in The Mysterious Code; after all, the book was written around 1960. That said, these two men are short, speak with thick accents and Gratuitous English, are only interested in Japanese antiques (specifically, katanas) during the antique show, live in Tokyo (are there no other cities in Japan?), constantly bow, and repeatedly mention "honor."
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: In Brian's case, it meant that he was being inadvertently poisoned.
  • Orphan's Ordeal: Jim and Dan each went through a lot before they met the Bob-Whites; Jim was abused by his step-father and was homeless for a time before meeting Trixie and Honey. Dan lived on the streets in New York and fell in with a criminal gang before moving to Sleepyside.
  • Parental Abandonment: Jim and Dan.
  • Photographic Memory: According to The Mystery of the Emeralds, Trixie has taught herself how to develop a photographic memory.
  • Private Detective: Trixie and Honey plan to open the Belden-Wheeler Detective Agency when they're older.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Trixie can frequently be whiny, self-centered, and bad-tempered, and she often lies and trespasses for her investigations. If any other character shows these traits, he or she will be called out on it.
    • In Mystery of the Emeralds, she is outraged that a man yelled at her for trespassing. Though the man was rude to her (and is later revealed as a villain), he was perfectly within his rights to prevent people from trespassing on his property.
    • In The Black Jacket Mystery, Trixie mocks Dan (for his clothing, of all shallow things) to Honey the moment she lays eyes on him. He notices and takes offense, and is later rude to her, which offends Trixie. While Dan is no saint, Trixie was the person to begin the conflict between them, and despite the narration's attempt to justify it, she's the one who later continues the argument.
  • Romantic False Lead: Dot and Ned in The Happy Valley Mystery; Trixie begins flirting outrageously with the latter out of jealousy at how Jim is getting so cosy with the former.
  • Series Continuity Error / Depending on the Writer: Trixie's tomboyishness, the ages and grades of Brian, Jim, and Dan, the favorite horses of Honey and Trixie, the existence of Diana's pony, Tom's (in)formality with Honey and Trixie, the freakin' timeline (especially regarding the events detailed in #7 The Mysterious Code, Trixie's allowance, Bobby's brattiness, Brian's skills as a mechanic, general eye colors and hair colors of various characters, how The Robin came into ownership of Tom and Celia, most aspects of Dan and Regan's family, as well as their relationship, the construction and age of the Manor House, Miss Trask's position in the Wheeler household, Dan attendance of school, the circumstances of the beginning of Trixie and Diana's friendship, whether Brian and Mart share a room, the name of the town, the grades in the local high school, the existence of the Wheeler swimming pool, the Bob-Whites' views on hunting, Diana's intelligence, Honey and Trixie's (good) grades, the style of riding used by the characters, the genders and colors of the horses, the location of the Wheeler lake, and so on. A full list can be found here.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Mart, much to Trixie's chagrin. Other characters, such as Dan and Jim, pick this up from time to time to annoy Mart.
  • Snooping Little Kid: At thirteen, Trixie was not exactly 'little', but did often stick her nose into places that required an adult. This also applies to all the members of the Bob-Whites.
  • The Sociopath: Luke, Dan's fellow teenage gang member from The Black Jacket Mystery. At first he merely lies and steals, but later he escalates to mugging an old man, threatening Dan and Trixie with a switchblade, attempting to burglarize the Wheelers' mansion while armed, leaving a child to die in a cave, and abandoning Dan and Trixie to be mauled by a mountain lion.
    • The other gang members in The Mystery of the Uninvited Guest show similar streaks of ruthlessness. Dan sure knows how to pick 'em.
  • That Thing Is Not Related To Me: Regan's initial attitude toward Dan. He went at great lengths to remove any association between him and Dan, before eventually coming around. Though throughout the series, he seems to interact with the other Bob-Whites more than Dan.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Dan, though it appears to be unintentional on the part of the writers.
  • True Companions: The Bob-Whites specifically formed their club to fit this trope.
  • Villain of the Week: There's almost always a new villain in every book.