Saturday, January 8, 2011

International Intrigue: Trixie Belden #36- "The Mystery of the Antique Doll"

Woohoo! New year, new post, and a new Trixie book!

Well, OK; it's not exactly new. But I had never read it before. #36 is one of the much-maligned 80's-era books. I was prepared to hate it. It wasn't as bad as I thought, until the last few chapters, which made me want to scream. But we will get to that shortly.

For once, the plot is pretty straightforward. The book opens with Trixie and Honey having to accompany Bobby to a check-up at the doctor's office, because he refused to go unless the girls went with him. Way to give in to your six year-old's demands there, Helen Belden. On the plus side, Bobby does talk more like a six year-old in this book, instead of the three year-old he usually sounds like. The doctor asks Trixie and Honey if they will help look after Mrs. De Keyser, a neighbor of theirs who has broken her arm. Always eager to help, the girls agree.

Mrs. De Keyser lives on Glen Road, so the girls stop there after school the next day. They meet her and her rascally dog, Willy. Willy is a kleptomaniac who likes to steal things and run off with them (this will become important later). The girls notice a new shop in front of Mrs. De Keyser's house. It's a small antique store. Mrs. D (sorry, but I'm tired of typing De Keyser over and over) is renting the space to a man named Carl Reid. Trixie and Honey decide to check out the shop on their way home. Inside the shop, the girls see lots of old toys, dolls, etc. Carl Reid finally comes out, and Honey takes the lead for once and starts asking him lots of questions about the merchandise. He doesn't know a thing about any of the antiques, and he seems relieved when the girls finally leave. Trixie thinks there is something fishy about him. What else is new?

Trix goes back alone to try to interview Mr. Reid for the school newspaper, but he's really mean and yells at her to go away and quit snooping around his shop. . Aren't antique shops kind of made for snooping? The guy isn't going to sell many that way

This upsetting incident is quickly forgotten, however, when Honey calls Trixie later that night and invites her to Paris. Yes, Paris! The one in France! Honey's parents are taking her for a three-day weekend trip, and she wants Trixie to go too. Plans are quickly made. Plans which are also discussed the next day at Mrs. De Keyser's house. The girls are out in the yard talking, and Mr. Reid overhears them. Suddenly he is all smiles and politeness, and asks Trixie and Honey for a favor. He wants them to go by a shop in Paris and pick up an antique doll for him. Maybe I've just been watching too much Locked Up Abroad, but this seems like a very bad idea to me. You never, ever transport goods for someone you don't know! Apparently Trixie and Honey have never seen Locked Up Abroad, because they agree to pick up the doll. Why, Trixie, why? When he was so rude and mysterious just a few days ago? Trixie and Honey come across as kind of dumb and naive in this book. All of the Bob-Whites seem a bit off somehow.

The trip to Paris goes smoothly, if quickly. Trixie and Honey do go pick up the doll from a shop in a bad looking neighborhood. They note how heavy the doll is. Or at least, the package holding the doll. Mr. Reid asked that they not take the doll out of the box He has the doll. He says a little doggy came by yesterday with the doll, and he took it from him and put it in his room. Trixie says Willy must have ran into the shop (he got away from them the day before), grabbed the doll, and ran back out with it. Really? I find it hard to believe that a) the shop door happened to be open. b) Of all the things in the shop, Willy took that doll (was it lying on the floor?). c) That Willy could or would carry it that far, given how heavy the doll supposedly was.

Trixie, Honey, and her brothers examine the doll and find counterfeiting plates inside of her dress. (Am I the only one totally not surprised by that?) But they don't go to the police because Trixie and Brian think the cops will think she had something to do with it. Don't the cops know who Trixie is by now?! Why on earth would they think that? They hold onto the doll, for now.

The next day, Trixie and Honey are overtaken by the red-haired man. He's a French inspector who has been watching the Paris end of the counterfeiting racket for a while now, and he tries to arrest them. They talk him out of it, telling him about the doll and Mr. Reid. Trixie says they gave the doll back to him, and Inspector Patou buys their story and lets them go. He's kind of a bumbling, clumsy, Inspector Clouseau type. But he's going to go investigate Mr. Reid.

This is where the book really gets bad, in my opinion. Trixie meets with the all of the Bob-Whites that night. All of them tell their parents they are going to the movies. In reality, they are going to return the doll to Mr. Reid. Well, leave it on the doorstep and then watch from the bushes to see what happens. What this is supposed to accomplish, I don't know. And have the Bob-Whites ever flat-out lied to their parents like that?! They all go to the shop and they find Inspector Patou there as well. They tell them what they're doing, and then leave the doll on the doorstep and throw pebbles at the window. The bad guys take the doll and Inspector Patou moves into confront them. Then, for reasons I will never understand, Trixie goes running through the door behind him. All the Bob-Whites follow her. Of course, they're all captured. Trixie wiggles free and tries to escape, but the catch her at the last second. Finally, the deus ex machina- I mean, the police show up out of nowhere to save the day. Mrs. DeKeyser had called them after she saw people sneaking around outside in the bushes. The bad guys are caught, the Bob-Whites are OK, and they never do tell their parents what they were really doing. Apparently lying to your parents is acceptable Bob-White behavior now. Ugh.