The Enid Blyton Society
The Mystery of the Hidden House
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Book Details...

First edition: 1948
Publisher: Methuen
Illustrator: Joseph Abbey
Category: Five Find-Outers
Genre: Mystery/Adventure
Type: Novels/Novelettes

On This Page...

Reprint Covers
Reviews by Imran Patel & Robert Houghton
Further Illustrations


Wraparound dustwrapper from the 1st edition, illustrated by Joseph Abbey

1st German edition published by Erika Klopp Verlag in 1955,
illustrated by Walter Born with the title Mystery of the House in the Woods
Foreign Titles
German: Geheimnis um ein Haus im Wald
French: Le Mystère de la Maison des Bois
Dutch: De Vijf Detectives – Het verborgen huis
Spanish: Misterio en la Casa Escondida
Portuguese: O Mistério da casa Invisível
Swedish: Mysteriet med det gomda huset
Finnish: Lukitun talon salaisuus
Icelandic: Dularfulla jarðhúsið
Czech: Tajemstvi Opusteneho Domu
Greek: To Oammeno Myetiko
Malaysian: Misteri Rumah Tersembunyi

Brief Summary by Julie Heginbotham: In this exciting mystery, the Find-Outers meet Ern, Mr Goon's nephew. For fun, they make up a mystery, complete with clues for Ern, to solve, knowing Mr Goon will ask Ern what the Find-Outers are up too and try to solve that very mystery himself. Whilst Ern is following the false mystery, he stumbles on a real one that the Find-Outers take on, and very soon the children are in the midst of a very clever gang, and who are working at Harry's Folly in the middle of Bourne Wood.

Full Reviews (These may contain spoilers):

Imran Patel's Review
The sixth book in the Five Find-Outers series is a bit of a hit-and-miss. It has dark and light scenes; it has humour; it has a great new character named Ern; it portrays interesting relationships, i.e., between Mr. Goon and Ern, and Ern and Fatty. These are all the hits; but there are a number of weak points. It is not a whodunnit (my favourite mystery genre; I am sure many will disagree though), and not even a real mystery either. O.K., there is a mystery; but that seems rather secondary to the family relationships between Uncle and Nephew and is overshadowed by the false mystery and the false clues. Hmm; this is the second time the Find-Outers lay false clues. Admittedly they are for Ern — not for the police — that is Goon, but still, it was rather annoying. As I said, it's a hit-and-miss!

Indeed, if it hadn't been for Ern and Goon, this could well be one of my least favourites in the series. As it is — the great character of Ern helped this up — up to 10th place in my favourite order, but numbers 5 to 10 are close. If it had been a whodunnit, doubtless it would have been higher on my favourites. Still very good though — I know many will disagree, as Mystery fans — but then, even in Enid's weakest stories (and mind you, this is not a 'weakest story' in my humble opinion) there is much to enjoy.

To start off with the story, Enid has us with the now familiar old routine — the Find-Outers think Fatty is in disguise and catch the wrong person. (Yawn.) This person is a boy — and very fat — but he does answer back. And hey, he is Mr. Goon's nephew! At this time, I could already predict what was going to happen. When they meet with Fatty, Fatty thinks the policeman's nephew must be a good-looking fellow. When he does at last meet him, he refers to him as a "clod," "a lump," "not a brain in his head," etc; all words which I felt were much too harsh for poor Ern. O.K., he is very simple, and his spelling is extremely bad — "Portry," "Pore," "Pome," etc; but this does make for some extremely entertaining reading. He has a funny habit of joining up words — "SwatIsaid," "Spitty," etc, and the Find-Outers are only able to make out the words if they understand the next one — "Goanborleyead..." — (not understandable) — "...and fry your face too!" he says, and only then can they understand. Bring it on! As I said, this story has a lot of humour (although I suspect Microsoft Word doesn't like it too much.)

Ern, at the start, is too big for his boots; I reckon he knew his class! — to Pip he says: "A bit of a pipsqueak. Wants to grow up a bit, I'd say," — and to Fatty: "And Fatty suits you. Right down it does." Eh?

The Find-Outers have all been forbidden to solve mysteries, so they decide to make one up (oh no!) for Ern. Oddly enough, Goon doesn't say anything about forbidding laying false clues, and so the Find-Outers find a hole! Yawn.

Ern also has one other bad habit — of repeating things that his uncle has said to the Find-Outers. I had to laugh here, especially when Fatty says: "Really? Well, two can play at this game. You tell your uncle we think he's a..." and then stops. Oh; what cheek of the Toad of a Boy! *More and more laughs.*

And yet another bad habit: of pinching things from his uncle's drawer. In this case, a grand notebook his uncle has! There is an error regarding this in the new editions: I am glad I have an old paperback. Anyway, about the notebook matter, Fatty is, as you might expect for a typical Blyton upper-class kid, shocked. "You can think us high-and-mighty if you like," he says to Ern, "but we think you're very low-down to take something out of your uncle's drawer without asking him." All right, all right, F.A.T! We know that! Think that we are like Ern? Oh really...

And before I just keep droning on and on about Ern's bad habits and what he says and what he writes and what he receives and... let me tell you that the false mystery now begins! O.K., no need for an exclamatory mark, it's nothing really important; just fun... well, this is all we think. Needless to say, we are proved wrong! Another of Enid's coincidences, eh?

There is a good scene at this time, when Fatty disguises himself (oh, I was eagerly waiting for that) as a fat old woman in a red shawl. Mr. Goon opens the door; and is overwhelmed by the complaints. Needless to say, he finds it impossible to drive her away. But he is surprised; Ern is able to! "There must be something in the boy after all," he thinks.

Another good scene is when Goon goes to Christmas Hill instead of Ern. Now there is a unique moment: Goon feeling for the (imaginary) cow. That's a first kind moment! Goon is a three-dimensional character in this book, and is not depicted as the clown he becomes in other books.

Now the real mystery begins, discovered by Ern! Ern had unfortunately followed the wrong stream; and he discovers some queer goings-on. He reports all this to the Find-Outers, who prick their ears up at once. Aha.

The false clues follow, to keep Ern focussed on the imaginary mystery. I remember that I was really annoyed by them on my first read. However, I have to admit that they are quite entertaining, along with this whole false mystery business.

Ern and Goon are now on friendly terms, although Goon has his own reasons for that. Goon is showing his cunning side.

The Find-Outers do some detecting for the real mystery. Fatty also manages to write a very rude poem in Ern's own handwriting in Ern's 'portry' notebook. Sadly, the consequences of this are very severe and unfair for poor Ern.

Ern is caned by Uncle Theophilus, and this dark scene has been removed in recent editions. Quite a pointless change I feel, because we want to read the author's own words; we want to know how cruel Goon could be; and how life was at that time. It is a really dark scene, one which I would happily like to forget.

To go on to the real mystery (as I said before, it is much overshadowed because of these events!), Ern is captured mistaken for (you can guess!), and there are some touching scenes where Goon waits up for Ern, worried when he doesn't come home. Enid Blyton writes: "He forgot all about Ern's bad points, and only remembered his good ones." Rather touching of Goon, I felt!

Ern is shown to be a hero as things boil up, with Inspector Jenks on the scene. Things are rounded up very nicely; and a feeling of satisfaction comes. This was one of the good ones.

Yes, certainly. It may not be one of my 'super favourites', but it is extremely entertaining and that's that. I would rate this 8/10.

Robert Houghton's Review
By the sixth book, The Mystery of the Hidden House, the Find-Outers are using Fatty's shed for meetings (a full year before the Secret Seven meet in similar surroundings) and from now on the shed is the most frequent meeting place. This immediately gives the stories a cosier, yet more mysterious feel. The children are out of the playroom, out of the house. They are away from the grown-ups, and therefore the adventures somehow take on a much more sinister feel.

One of the criticisms of the Mystery series is the rather over played character of Mr. Goon. This is well illustrated in The Mystery of the Hidden House, which is very slow to get started and relies heavily on the tricking of Mr. Goon and his outrageous reactions. The plot is very similar to The Mystery that Never Was (1961), in that the whole mystery is initially made up by the Five but then just happens to become real. This plot was used in Secret Seven On The Trail to best effect. In The Mystery of the Hidden House it merely holds up the story for eight chapters. During this time we are introduced to Goon's nephew, Ern, who turns out to be one of Enid's most inspired creations. Ern is solely responsible for livening up this rather 'flat' beginning, with his wonderful way of talking, 'Spitty' and 'Lovaduck!' and his amazing 'Portry'. Because of Ern, the Find-Outers relationship with Goon is also heightened. Ern is in effect working for both 'sides' but ends up firmly in the Find-Outers corner, of course.

Again, the plot revolves around 'strange happenings' in an empty house, and this time it is Ern who is captured and held prisoner by the baddies. The 'happenings' involve a rather elaborate plan to take stolen cars into the middle of a hill to re-spray them and could very easily be a Famous Five story. As with Jo in the Five's books, Ern is by far the strongest character in this book and he actually saves this particular story from being as weak as it might have been. He more than justifies his return in future stories and his later, much bigger role in The Mystery of Tally-Ho Cottage. These illustrations are hidden by default to ensure faster browsing. Loading the illustrations is recommended for high-speed internet users only.