The Enid Blyton Society
Secret Seven on the Trail
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Book Details...

First edition: 1952
Publisher: Brockhampton Press
Illustrator: George Brook
Category: Secret Seven
Genre: Mystery/Adventure
Type: Novels/Novelettes

On This Page...

Reprint Covers
Artwork
Reviews by Dennis Worley and David Cook
Further Illustrations

Reprints


Spine and front cover from the 1st edition, illustrated by George Brook



Cloth boards of the 1st edition



Title page from the 1st edition, illustrated by George Brook



1st German edition published by Blüchert Verlag, Hamburg in 1962,
cover by Nikolaus Plump, illustrated by Kurt Schmischke
with the title Black Seven on the Trail
Foreign Titles
American: The Secret Seven and the Railroad Mystery
German: Schwarze Sieben auf der Fahrte
French: Le Clan des Sept a la Grange-aux-Loups
Dutch: De Grote Zeven en de treinroof
Spanish: Los Siete Secretos Sobre La Pista
Portuguese: Os Sete e os Seus Rivais
Finnish: SOS ja junanryöstäjät
Norwegian: Det hemmelige pa sporet
Icelandic: Leynifélagið Sjö saman á spennandi slóðum
Czech: Tajna Sedma Zlocin na zeleznici
Greek: Nepineteia Ethn Omixah



Brief Summary by Julie Heginbotham: Jack's annoying sister, Susie, forms her own Secret Society – The Famous Five. They have a meeting in the summer house, and make up a tale about a gang meeting at Tigger's Barn, for the benefit of Jack, who is hiding and listening by the laurel bush. Peter doesn't believe Jack's tale, and so to prove him wrong, Jack and George go along to Tigger's barn, thinking they are following Susie and her friend. But it is soon clear to both boys that they are in the middle of an adventure, when two men creep into the tumble-down house and signal to Zeb to join them knowing the coast is clear! But then they discover George and think he has a message for them from Cheeky Charlie!


Full Reviews (These may contain spoilers):

Dennis Worley's Review
The fourth book, Secret Seven on the Trail, is the first Secret Seven book I read, and one of my favourites. I remember lending it from the library as a child, but now I have my own copy, a 1956 edition, complete with a dust jacket in very good condition.

The atmosphere created by the fog lends a sinister feeling to the whole story that draws the reader in. At the first meeting the same old scene is repeated. I never tire of it, and nor does Enid it seems! Peter flung open the door and scowled.

"How MANY times am I to tell you not to yell out the password!"

This time Jack is the culprit, but he has a counter argument, though it's a weak one I feel:

"Well, you all yelled out PASSWORD at the tops of your voices."

Jack comes into his own a bit here. When Peter wants to stop the club until the next holidays, because 'nothing ever turns up in term-time' and because he has to work harder at his school work, Jack is ready to carry on without him and make it the Secret Six with himself and Janet as co-leaders. I can't see this happening in the Find Outers or the Fives, but it is the sort of rivalry that would surface when a group of children form a society. Peter likes to get his own way, but the others are strong enough to stand up to him.

Enter the Famous Five! Not the Famous Five as we know them, but Susie's gang! This chapter always amuses me. I like the way Enid refers the Famous Five books. A bit of free publicity!

"We've named ourselves after the Famous Five in the 'Five' books! Much better idea than 'Secret Seven'."

Did Enid also regard the Famous Five books as more important or better than her Secret Seven books I wonder? Or is this just a tongue in cheek comment.

The 'Famous Five' have bigger badges and they have a secret sign too! Susie and her gang decide to play a trick and pretend there is a mystery. The FF lead the SS into an adventure in much the same way as the Find Outers led Ern into a real mystery in 'Hidden House'. To his credit, Peter is not fooled by this particular trick, but Jack is keen to follow it up with George.

The Seven get on the trail of the mystery then and a face appears at the window during one of their meetings. How may times do faces appear at windows in Enid's books? I've lost count! This time it is Jeff; one of the FF. Peter emits a fierce yell and commands, "After him, Scamper!" However the sudden drama is short-lived and has a comical anti-climax: Jeff had taken to his heels, and, even if Scamper had caught him, nothing would have happened, because she spaniel knew Jeff well and liked him.

I like the way Enid seems to enjoy bringing Peter 'back to earth' again. It makes these books seem more real somehow.

Then follows some scenes at the railway and there is a lesson about the dangers of trespassing on railway lines.

The adventure 'boils up' on Tuesday evening, a day that is favoured by Enid in many of her stories. The fog and the setting add a sinister feel to the exciting climax.

But there is one more scene to play before the book ends. Peter decides to call a post-adventure meeting and invites the Famous Five as well! Just to show them how good the SS are, and to thank them for "putting us on the track of this most exciting adventure" (I wonder if the pun was intended?).
Review by David Cook
This story takes place in the school term that leads up to Christmas. Peter want to temporarily disband the Society as he has to study hard but, confronted by the others' objections, and the notion of carrying on as the Secret Six without him, he re-asserts his position as leader and accedes to their wishes. So the children continue to wear their Society badges and, when other children express a wish to join, Janet foolishly suggests that, as their society is full, they should form their own — an idea that Susie seizes on immediately. In a shamelessly blatant plug, Enid has Susie form a rival club — the Famous Five.

For the first time, Susie really comes into her own and, as a character, she is far more interesting than any of the girls in the Secret Seven. Janet in her role as Peter's sister is spirited and competitive, but Pam and Barbara never progress beyond being gigglers and squealers, with no real ideas or suggestions of their own and the three girls are regularly left out of any potential danger. Indeed Susie is a stronger character than either Colin or George who are very much camp followers. I find it somewhat unrealistic that the parents of Jack and Susie allow one sibling to belong to a society that the other is barred from when she so desperately wants to belong. If Peter had been big enough to change the Society to the Exciting Eight and admit Susie to the ranks, she would have been a definite asset. But Peter rules by force of personality and Susie would always be a potential challenge to him, particularly as her brother, Jack, is the second strongest character in the Seven. Peter's character is in contrast to that of the Find-Outers' Fatty who earned his position of leader through his ability and his peers' respect.

However, Susie forms her rival society and inadvertently places the Seven in another mystery that again centres on a half-heard criminal conversation, overheard this time by Jack and George at Tigger's Barn. It is while playing with train and farm sets that the Seven realise that the rogues were referring to the railway, but no mention is made this time of Peter and Janet living on a farm. The busy railway station with its sidings, points and signals again implies a busy, bigger town. Several fictional towns are mentioned, particularly Petlington, but the mention that the 6.02 train comes through the station "right on to Swindon" — a rare mention of a real place — implies that this station is based on the real one at Beaconsfield, itself on a longitude to Swindon. The descriptive "bang bang" of fog signals adds to this viewpoint. This exciting, mysterious and well-written story I rate, along with the next entry, as the best in the series. These illustrations are hidden by default to ensure faster browsing. Loading the illustrations is recommended for high-speed internet users only.