Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Trixie continued: happy families are all alike

It's been a long time since my last Trixie post - nearly a year.

Conveniently, our intrepid sleuth pretty much covers everything you need to know on the first page of the second book in the series, The Red Trailer Mystery.
"We're going on a trailer trip, Honey Wheeler and I, with her governess, Miss Trask, to try and find Jim Frayne, who has run away again."
What? You want more?
"Oh, Dad, Jim is really the most wonderful boy I ever knew. His ambition in life is to own and run a camp for orphan boys so they can learn how to be good at sports and how to get along in the woods at the same time that they have school lessons. So that's why we feel sure he's trying now to get a job at one of those three big camps upstate. He could be a junior counselor, like Brian and Mart, or junior athletic instructor, because he's very good at everything and he knows all about the woods and did two years of high school in one and one a scholarship to college --"
That's right, Trix. Time for a breath. (Come on, aren't you a little in love with him too by now?)

So Honey, Trixie, and Miss Trask are headed for the nebulous region known as "upstate" to those of us who live near the coast.

And how are they getting there? In a trailer, featuring a "combination living room and bedroom with a cozy little dining alcove... tiled kitchenette... glistening modern bathroom [e]quipped with a glassed-in shower, fluorescent lighting, and a compact mirrored cabinet over the washbasin."

You think that sounds like fun? Try it for a few days. Rainy ones. When one of the members of your party is a toddler suffering from severe poison ivy. And the thing leaks.

Sorry, forgot whose story we were focusing on here. Back to Trixie, who runs into another mystery, in the form of the trailer they park next to on their first night:
"That's funny," Trixie wondered aloud. "What's a man who looks so poverty-stricken doing in such a lavish trailer?"
Naturally, we find out by the end of the book. And all his problems get solved too.

In the meantime, we get to see familiar themes resurface:
  • Honey is rich.
"It must be an awful nuisance being rich... Your parents are always worrying for fear you'll be kidnapped and held for ransom, aren't they?"
  • Honey fails to display the intelligence she has in the later books.
"Why, he could go to a hotel, couldn't he?" Honey demanded.

Trixie shook her head. "Not without arousing suspicion. Boys his age don't go around stopping at hotels."

"I never thought about that," Honey said slowly.
  • Bad guys are bad from their first lines.
"It was all your fault. You weren't watching where you were going. You'll have to pay for the damage, you stupid little fool!"
  • Bad guys use a lot of slang.
"'You'd better watch who you call a numbskull around here,' Jeff said evenly. 'And in case you're interested, I'm getting fed up with you giving all the orders. This is a fifty-fifty racket, see?'"
  • So do police - state troopers, in this case.
"'Reach for the ceiling, brother... Put your dainty wrists in these bracelets, bud. Pretty, aren't they?... Since we caught these two birds red-handed, we won't need to call you as witnesses."
(This, by the way, marks the first appearance of "dainty wrists" and "bracelets" as a synonym for handcuffs. It will not be the last.)

And of course the book is full of delightful signs of 1950 - airmail letters and telegrams, camps full of husky, energetic boys, a camp called Autoville...

It's not really spoiling anything to say that the book has a happy ending.

Forget spoilers. The book is almost sixty years old, and if you haven't gotten to it yet, it's not my fault.

And anyway, the last page provides us with one more swoon-worthy Jim moment, so naturally I'll close with it here.
"'They're waiting for you at a table inside.' Jim gave her a little push. 'In you go, kid. I'm top man around here now.'"
What? I'm the only one who finds that adorable? Hmph. Just wait for book #3, where Jim gets to confront his first hardened criminal.


Andrea V said...

Seriously I slammed through all of these (I think) when I was 7 or 8. But I tried to get my "big reader" to read one a few years back, and two pages in she says, "Jeez! Doesn't this girl ever take a breath?! This is exhausting to read!"

Sarah Rettger said...

I was probably 7 or 8 when I first acquired the Trixie books, and somehow they've managed to survive every time I clear out the bookshelves. They're easy to make fun of, but they're fun to read, too.

But I never noticed, until I started noting passages for these blog posts, just how often Trixie needs to slow down and breathe :-)

Patty P said...

SOO funny. I love this post! Trixie and Nancy Drew...perennial summer favorites.

Sarah Rettger said...

You're right, Patty, there's something very summery about these. (Maybe I'll reread them during the snow next winter!)