Friday, January 20, 2006

Early Thriller/Mystery Influences

Jupiter Jones. He was the smart one. Ultimately he was the one who figured most things out. Maybe he was too smart. I definitely remember him being a little too sure of himself. I guess that’s why I probably identified more with Bob Andrews, or maybe even Pete Crenshaw…but Pete was more the muscle of the group. And no one has ever accused me of being the muscle.

Some people might not know who these guys are, but those that do will recognize them as the trio from the Alfred Hitchcock and The Three Investigators mystery book series for kids. I loved those books when I was a boy. I must have read about twenty of them before I moved up to the likes of Robert Heinlein and Alistair MacLean.

Even with all the years that have passed since I read my final Three Investigator book The Mystery of Monster Mountain (or was it The Secret of the Haunted Mirror?), the memory of being a silent partner on the Three Investigator’s team still makes me smile. The stories were just so cool. How could they not be? Their headquarters was in an abandoned trailer at the Jones Salvage Yard, and the only way you could get to it was through one of several tunnels built under the piles of junk. What kid wouldn’t like that? Just thinking about it now makes me kind of wish I’d grown up near a junk yard…Mom. Dad. I did say “kind of.”

There wasn’t just the headquarters; there was the investigators relationship with Alfred Hitchcock, too. He’d make an appearance at least once in every book, giving advice. (I did read that later he was removed from some of the stories, and that he wasn’t in the books written after his death. Too bad, I loved that his involvement.) I think those books probably started my love of Hitchcock films, too. I even talked my dad into taking me to see Family Plot when it came out in the theaters. It was the first Hitchcock movie I saw in a theater and the last film he made.

Back to the books. The stories were fun and exciting – especially for a ten year old. I remember reading most of them multiple times, so much so that the cover fell off my copy of The Mystery of the Silver Spider. And though I did read a few Hardy Boys novels first, it was Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators that started my love of mysteries and thrillers, and solidified my love of reading.

A few years ago I ran across a couple copies at an antique/junk shop. They’re sitting on my shelf at home now.

How about you? What were the first books to make a difference in your life?

3 comments:

Rob Gregory Browne said...

I loved the Three Investigator books. Don't know if you know, but Dennis Lynds (who recently passed away) wrote a bunch of those books. I think his wife Gayle may have written a few, too.

Brett Battles said...

I didn't know Dennis Lynds wrote many of them until just recently when I came across a website dedicated to the Three Investigator books. I guess that's why those books were so good...they were written by excellent authors from the start.

t said...

Nancy Drew. I saved my babysitting money, which I think at the time was 50 cents per hour, except after midnight when it was a whole dollar, try not to envy me :-). I babysat many a beastly child just to indulge my love of a "good" mystery and to lose myself in the futher adventures of Nancy, George, Bess and the crew.
Now about that chili recipe....