Tuesday, 16 October 2007

We May be Through With The Past #1


I was sorting through my book collection the other day, and came across a book I haven't read in many, many years.

THE SECRET OF TERROR CASTLE was the first entry in a series titled Alfred Hitchcock And The Three Investigators, which ran for 43 books.

The series' debut begins with an introduction by Hitchcock who agreed to allow three boys to attempt to find a genuine haunted house for use in his next suspense picture. The trio - Jupiter Jones, Peter Crenshaw and Bob Andrews - bagged this assignment by way of sheer skullduggery and their adventures turned me into a fan for several years.

Although I didn't realise it at the time, Hitch's involvement was fairly minimal and his name quickly took second place to Robert Arthur's text. Sadly, Arthur only wrote 11 books in the series before he passed away, but his involvement created some exciting tales.

THE SECRET OF TERROR CASTLE sees our heroes investigating a castle located above Hollywood, which was owned by a popular silent movie star named Stephen Terrill who committed suicide when he reluctantly decided he could no longer star in movies. Now, Terror Castle is given a wide berth and no-one has dared to spend the night there for many years.

During their investigations, Jupiter and his colleagues encounter a 'fog of fear', a blue phantom and a ghostly apparition in a mirror (the books illustration of this phantom lady haunted me for years). With the introduction of Terrill's former agent, things come to the boil nicely and move towards a conclusion that sets us up for their next adventure.
So, here's a book that I haven't read for the best part of 30 years. I sit down, read the opening chapter and I'm hooked. Kids stuff, huh? Well, I'm too old for this sort of stuff, but so what? These books were a part of my formative years, and sometimes it's not a bad thing to go back. To remind yourself of who you were at a given period in your life, and to experience again things that brought simple pleasures, free of the stern challenges that were not too far around the corner. Jones, Crenshaw, Andrews, Worthington the chauffeur, headquarters in a 30 foot mobile trailer home. Characters such as E. Skinner Norris, Uncle Titus and Aunt Mathilda, Hans and Konrad. The famous Three Investigators card, Jones' Holmesian deduction powers... all these made this book a magical experience. Unfortunately, my other Three Investigators books have disappeared over the years, lost in the mists of time but this one was always my favourite. Perhaps I'll check out Ebay and see if I can track down THE MYSTERY OF THE GREEN GHOST or THE MYSTERY OF THE SCREAMING CLOCK. Or, maybe I won't. We'll see, though one thing is for sure. To quote a line from one of my favourite films; "We may be through with the past, but the past ain't through with us". Sometimes, it's good not to resist too much.

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