The Enid Blyton Society
The Mystery of the Invisible Thief
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Book Details...

First edition: 1950
Publisher: Methuen
Cover Art: Jean Main
Illustrator: Treyer Evans
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 Jean Main

1st German edition published by Erika Klopp Verlag in 1956,
illustrated by Walter Born with the title Mystery of the Invisible Thief
Foreign Titles
German: Geheimnis um einen unsichtbaren Dieb
French: Le Mystère du voleur invisible
Dutch: De Vijf Detectives – De onzichtbare dief
Spanish: Misterio de Ladron Invisible
Portuguese: O Mistério do Ladrão Invisível
Swedish: Mysteriet med den osynlige tjuven
Danish: Mysteriet om den usynlige tyv
Finnish: Näkymättömän varkaan salaisuus
Icelandic: Dularfullu sporin
Czech: Tajemstvi Neviditelneho Lupice
Greek: O AopatoeKaeothe
Indonesian: Misteri Pencuri ghaib di Hutan Inai

Brief Summary by Julie Heginbotham: Who is the large footed thief committing the robberies in Peterswood? He leaves his footprints and people have heard his cough, but he appears to be invisible! Mr Goon is eager to solve this mystery, and put his disguising skills to the test, which he'd learned from a refresher course. The Find-Outers are also on the case, with Fatty using his own disguising skills to outwit Mr Goon. So who is going to solve this mystery first, the Find-Outers or Mr Goon?

Full Reviews (These may contain spoilers):

Imran Patel's Review
The eighth book in the Five Find-Outers series is without a doubt my favourite book of this series. It does get some competition from The Mystery of the Missing Necklace for the top spot, but overall wins because of various reasons. The mystery is crafted very intelligently, and the solution is ingenious. The reader is left guessing till the end until the final revelation, a very special moment where Fatty reveals Who-Dun-It. The characters are characterized very nicely, and there is something unique in this mystery we won't get in others: Goon disguising himself! He disguises himself not once, not twice, but three times (if you count the last one where Fatty pretends to be taken in), and it's sad that this habit is not repeated in other books! The disguises themselves make the mystery special above all others, but they are just the icing on the cake. It's a great one overall!

It's one of those that shows well on the back cover, too. Who is the mysterious robber that disappears from the scene of the crime without a trace? What does the strange criss-cross pattern on the ground mean? Can the Five Find-Outers and Dog discover the thief's identity before Mr. Goon does? The last question will be answered very easily, but what about the first two? I remember puzzling about the criss-cross pattern when I first read it, and also showing surprise at how the thief was "invisible." I couldn't for the life me puzzle out what did those scraps of paper mean, and was surprised when the Find-Outers couldn't too! But it's only a matter of time before Fatty gets it...

To recap: the start of this story is very pleasing. It's summer; and very hot. Then the children meet Inspector Jenks who has come to Peterswood to watch his god-daughter Hilary at the gymkhana (who is one of the participants.) Meanwhile, Goon has gone away for a refresher course (or a holiday; anyway, one of the two.) No crimes are happening currently, and it's all very quiet. One of those times, as Jenks says! But it's not to last long, I can tell you.

Hilary is rather an interesting character. Her horse Bonny is very idiotic, and as a result she doesn't manage to win a prize at first. Later, when the crime is discovered, she does manage to win one, and looks surprisingly cheerful. Completely horse-mad! She later shows the prizes which she has won to Bets, and poor Bets is very bored, still for Fatty...! There is a great sentence here — '"Yes," said Bets doubtfully. And then when Hilary says Fatty must see them too: "He nodded — also doubtfully." Just a start to the humour this great book has!

The crime is discovered andTonks, the policeman who is a temporary replacement for Goon, reports it to Inspector Jenks, who promptly goes away with him, forgetting that the address mentioned is Hilary's home! This provides an excuse for Fatty to take Hilary home and, as a result, check out the crime scene. This is the only flaw in the story, as how can Jenks forget his god-daughter's address? Still, Blyton always manages to provide an excuse for Fatty to visit the crime, and for the plot to kick off.

The crime is pretty puzzling. There was a deep-throated cough heard, but nobody saw the thief. He has gone by this time, but how, no one knows. There are no possible hiding places anyway. And to add to this entire puzzle, the thief has left his footprints — big, big shoeprints! About size twelve or so. Why so many? And also, near the house there are some scraps of paper which make no sense... And also, there is a strange criss-cross mark...

Jolly weird clues, eh?

The thief is very bold — leaving his glove-prints and shoe prints everywhere! Fatty comments: "Well, he couldn't have been a very expert thief, leaving his prints like that!" He does not understand at this point that thief is an expert — in more ways than one by leaving them. Yes — in fact, I'd go as far as saying that the thief is the best in the Find-Outers series, one of my very favourite villains!

Fatty pays a visit to Tonks, sees the scraps of paper and gets the information that Goon is coming back. Hurrah! I was waiting for this, because, while Tonks is quite an interesting fellow — "not the one for solving cases," as he says himself — he's definitely not as interesting as Pippin. And while Pippin was afraid of Goon, Tonks isn't — he thinks Goon is a bit of a turnip-head. How true!

There is a scene at this time when Goon, once again, ends up looking like an idiot. He receives news of the second robbery, and when he goes to the address he is met by Fatty. Thinking it's just a prank, he returns; and naturally later suffers the wrath of the victim. In the meantime, the Find-Outers again have a reason to snoop.

The Find-Outers interview the suspects and find, even more puzzling, that nobody has seen the big thief. There is the grocer's girl; the postman; and the baker. Each of them says that they haven't seen the thief. The case is more puzzling than ever.

The children decide to visit the place mentioned in the scraps of paper (Frinton.) Fatty disguises himself and, surprisingly, so does Goon! Goon's disguise completely takes in the other Find-Outers, but Fatty naturally spots him. Not only does that disguise take in Larry and the others, but they also think that it's the thief! (Because of his big feet.) And the Toad of a Boy says that they should phone Goon about it, and give a description of the man. Needless to say, Goon slams down the receiver. Gracious, wouldn't he be shocked?!

Fatty also says that he has managed to do some detecting in Frinton Lea.

Fatty disguises himself again and goes to the cobbler dressed as an old tramp to Find-Out about size twelve shoes. The cobbler is a fiery-tempered person, and gets angry when Fatty asks him if Colonel Cross (the Colonel wears size twelve shoes) has rubber-heeled shoes. Goon comes too (also in disguise!), having had the same bright idea the Find-Outers had (gosh, he has some brains after all!). He enrages the cobbler by asking the same question Fatty had asked, and as he isn't in uniform the cobbler tells him to clear off. He also says that Mr. Goon (he isn't aware that he is talking to Goon) is "a pompous old bobby." Goon is enraged! He pricks up his ears when he hears about the tramp, and wonders if he could be the thief. But after a very funny conversation at which I kept laughing, he decides not.

The other Find-Outers enter the scene, and though they fail to recognize Fatty (as usual); this time they do manage to recognize Goon. Needless to say, a funny conversation follows. (I don't know, but this novel containing humour in abundance makes me think it's nearly perfect; a very neat 'whodunnit'!)

The Find-Outers do some good detecting at this time. Goon is hopeless at it. Why did he become a policeman? Surely he knows the police way of speaking? Maybe...or maybe not!

Fatty and Co. think they have solved the mystery, only to have one last disappointment. And then the third robbery takes place. I couldn't help thinking: the burglar had some cheek indeed. And he even sends a... err, that'd be spoiling it!

To some readers, the thief may now have been obvious at this point, due to a previous event which links to the third robbery. However, I failed to spot the thief; I was properly waylaid by red herrings.

This time, for a change Pip accidentally solves the mystery. However, though he plays the trick, he fails to realize the similarities between his trick and the robberies. Of course Fatty does so; and he reveals all in the final revelation moment. Inspector Jenks comes to round things off and congratulate the Find-Outers. In the end, there is a great statement — which I can't possibly reveal!

An excellent book overall. For the first time, a book of the "Mystery" series receives 10/10 from me.

Robert Houghton's Review
The eighth book in the series, The Mystery of the Invisible Thief also ranks as one of the best. It is a well-plotted tale, unusual in that the mystery actually starts in the second chapter. There is no messing about with tricks or disguises, probably mainly because Goon is not in the first five chapters. He is away on a 'refresher course' — although what he was refreshing on we can't really tell! It certainly didn't improve his powers of deduction much, but it DID teach him the usefulness of disguises. (Something that Fatty could have told him books before!) In fact, we are informed that it was Fatty's disguising that had given Goon the idea to apply for that part of the course.

The main plot of The Mystery of the Invisible Thief concerns the robberies, happening all around Peterswood, obviously committed by a very big thief, who delights in leaving massive foot and hand prints everywhere he goes. Even the Inspector doesn't escape this crime — his goddaughter, Hillary is one of the first victims, when her house is burgled. The Inspector goes rushing off to investigate, and it is only when he has gone that Hillary tells the Find-Outers that it is HER house that has been broken into. This tiny slip is the one 'blip' in the story. It seems that the Inspector has 'forgotten' that his Goddaughter lived there! But this does give Fatty an excuse to take the poor girl home — and get a good snoop around at the scene of the crime.

After this, robberies are committed one after the other. The thief leaves clue after clue each time, and even makes sure he drops a note with 'TROTTEVILLE'S NEXT' written on it. The thief is very bold, but this is all actually part of his plan to avert suspicion. The thief is a tiny, ineffectual chap, but he leaves big clues everywhere.

This time it is Pip, for a change, who helps to solve the mystery. To cheer Fatty up, he decides to put on a pair of big boots and make giant footprints all around the garden. When he finally admits to the prank, everything clicks into place. The little-footed baker, Twit, was always around when the robberies took place — but of course, no-one ever suspected him, because his feet were tiny and his hands too. But with a pair of size tens in his basket, and a pair of dirty big gloves (mixed in, presumably with the bread and cakes!) — he was able to become a big thief, who apparently was 'invisible'. These illustrations are hidden by default to ensure faster browsing. Loading the illustrations is recommended for high-speed internet users only.