Book Review


Title of Book
Misteri Surat Kaleng (The Mystery of the Spiteful Letters)
Enid Blyton
PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama
Publishing Year
1946 (Original)
288 pages

The Mystery of the Spiteful Letters” is one of 15 novels in Enid Blyton’s “The Five Find-Outers” series, originally published in 1946. It is a treat for lovers of mystery - tells how the Five Find-Outers solved the mystery of spiteful letters sent to people living in Peterswood and sometimes the surreal landscape of Peterswood and its circumstances.

The Five Find-Outers – Fatty, Lary, Daisy, Pip, Bets, and their Scottie dog, Buster, are shocked when spiteful letters are sent to some people in Peterswood. They first noticed this when Pip and Bets’ housemaid got the letter that made her left her job. At first, only Mr. Goon knows this case. But then Fatty does an investigation and succeeds. From that time, they are in a race with him.

They get all the spiteful letters sent to Peterswood’s residence with the help of Gladys. All the letters were written with capital letters and were not sent from Peterswood, but from Sheepsale. From that information, they do a further investigation.

At last, they have 3 suspects – Ms. Tittle, Mr. Old Nosey, Ms. Moon. Fatty tries to disguise himself as a red-haired postman and a butcher’s server to get their handwriting and finds out that Mr. Old Nosey can’t write nor read, Ms. Tittle’s handwriting is perfect, while Ms. Moon can’t differ capital and non-capital letters.

Some days later, the culprit is in action again. This time, the letter is sent to Ms. Cockles’ sister at 7 A.M. to her house, without post, to Ms. Moon, and to Mr. Goon.
The case is getting more and more confusing at this point.

When they are gathering, suddenly Mr. Goon gets into their room and gives them a plastic bag, accusing that they intentionally put false clues there to fool him. But when Fatty opens the bag, the bag has alphabet book, bus schedule, and food receipes in it. They are valuable clues that lead him to find the culprit – MS. MOON!

The story is really hard to be guessed -   it is one of the most complicated mystery in the book series - for example, when Ms. Moon gets the spiteful letters to fool the investigation, but then it turns out that she herself is the perpetrator. The answers of the culprit are not obvious. There are some unexpected plot twists which make readers be interested in the storyline. Moreover, the depiction of the places and situations that Enid Blyton gives are really good. You can really feel the atmosphere of the incident -the tense, stress, happiness, and sadness - and imagine the surreal landscape of Peterswood until its details, for example the location of the shops in Sheepsale, their houses, roads in Peterswood, and even the bright night as Fatty goes slyly to meet Gladys.

Besides all of that, the mystery solving is too accidental (Mr. Goon suddenly gave them all the clues). The plot would be nicer if the Five Find-Outers solve it themselves - not with Mr. Goon’s carelessness. Moreover, Fatty takes control too much part in the mystery, like the others are just supporting characters. Whereas, they should be the main character also, as they are the Five Find-Outers. 

Another thing is the reason why Aunt Moon sent the spiteful letters are not exposed clearly, even implicitly, through the story. It makes the story feels incomplete - even though some assumptions are made in the beginning of the novel, they do not lead to a clear answer.

Overall, I really recommend you to read this novel. The plot is interesting and it is not like the nowadays-mystery-novel. You will feel the real friendship found in the Five Find-Outers and the stress in the mystery solving. 

Happy reading!

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