Oh my God it’s finally autumn in the Alden universe. It only took 13 books. I can only imagine the length of time that will pass before we see spring again. This is Snowbound Mystery in case you’re keeping track.
In the very first paragraph we learn that their school is closed because there’s been a fire and it’s been partially destroyed. This sounds very mysterious to me, but what do I know, because this crime-solving quartet isn’t piqued in the least by this tidbit.
That’s Gertrude for you, throwing in some interesting news about arson to distract you, then never ever mentioning it again.
Meanwhile, Benny is extolling the features of this marvelous cabin in the woods that he was recently discussing with Grandfather’s good chum down at the Sportsmen’s club.
I’m starting to feel like Grandfather is feeling his age, and has wisely decided to skip over the older, slower ‘jock’ (is he a jock? I can’t think of anything Henry’s good at, that was the nicest term I could come by)—Henry— as his possible heir—going straight to his only semi-intelligent spawn. All signs point to Benny being groomed for a future of finance and schmoozing on the links. Why else is Benny hanging out at the Sportsmen’s Club, unless he’s making shady deals and being bribed by long lunches and cabin getaways? Think of how easy it would be to bribe Benny with a good-sized hamburger.
If that wasn’t enough, it’s also pretty clear who’s now in charge of ‘masterminding’ these little adventures—as usual Benny extolls the virtues of his newest idea with the imagination and style of a mid-sized travel pamphlet. ‘It’s too early to snow,’ and ‘only a 2.5 mile hike from the nearest grocery store’ and ‘there will be new plants and deer!’ and ‘I’m sure it won’t snow’ and ‘we could eat canned food’ and also ‘it won’t snow so that’s good.’
Spoiler alert: it’s going to totally snow. I mean, thanks for keeping the mystery alive, Gertrude, by naming the book Snowbound Mystery. It’s like you want to inhibit children’s slowly developing deductive reasoning skills.
Obviously Gertrude is now working with some sort of Microsoft Office Word template, so in every new book she just has to tweak Benny’s monologue slightly, changing the details about the grocery store, and the amount of canned food they will want to purchase. The paragraph about Watch attending/staying at home is optional.
However, I’m relieved to see they’ve finally moved on past ‘rocks and seashells”—earlier phenomena of nature previously fascinating to the set—and are now learning about multi-celled vertebrates.