I never liked Nancy Drew. I dabbled with the Hollisters, the Bobbsey Twins, and Cherry Ames. I even read one or two Vicki Barr mysteries. But the teenage detectives that I loved the most were Trixie Belden and her friends, the Bob Whites.
I first read most of the series as a pre-teen and wanted nothing more than to be a Bob White myself. I’ve done multiple re-reads of them since. Mom and Auntie Denise had read the books themselves and between them, bought me most of the series at the first Building 19 store. I recently passed my collection on to my niece Lena, who is now a third generation Trixie fan. We’ve been reading them together, and are currently up to book 10 – The Marshland Mystery.
And, ok, I didn’t actually learn everything I need to know, but I did learn a lot from Trixie and friends. For example, from the very first book (The Secret of the Mansion), I know what to do if someone is bitten by a poisonous snake. I won’t be the one sucking the blood out, but I can tell you how to do it.
I learned genetics in The Mysterious Visitor – two blue-eyed parents can’t have a brown-eyed child. Knowing this fact helps Trixie solve the mystery of her friend Diana’s impostor uncle. A few books later, when the Bob Whites visit Di’s real uncle in The Mystery in Arizona, I was fascinated to read about The Day of the Dead.
The Bob Whites traveled a lot, always learning something new and solving a mystery. In The Mystery at Bob-White Cave I learned the difference between stalagmites and stalactites. (Stalactites hang from the ceiling, stalagmites build up from the floor.) One of my particular favorites of the travel books is The Mystery of the Queen’s Necklace – in which some of the Bob Whites travel to England. It featured both genealogy and Shakespeare, two subjects I very much adore.
It was not until a few years ago that I realized that my love of the “bad boy” in fiction stems from the Trixie series as well. Dan Mangan, former gang member, joins the Bob Whites in book 8 – The Black Jacket Mystery. From that moment on, he was my favorite character. With his slightly dark past and broody demeanor, it’s a short step from Dan to, say, Heathcliff or Mr. Darcy.
I’m not alone in my love of Trixie and her companions. There are numerous fan fiction sites featuring the grown up Bob Whites. I will confess I read a lot of them. In many cases, the Bob Whites are paired up in the couples that the books imply. Trixie is most often matched with Jim Frayne, her supple redheaded neighbor. But in my head, Trixie tires of Jim being “honorable all over the place,” and ends up with Dan.
It’s all speculation, of course, because the series ended after 39 books. It would be wonderful if some publisher would continue the series, probably with an update to modern times. Or a sequel series featuring the children of the Bob Whites. Something like that, as Honey Wheeler would say, would be “perfectly perfect.”
In the meantime, I’ll continue reading the old books and the new fan fiction. I may even try my hand at my own. And I will continue, as I often do in trying situations, to ask myself “what would Trixie Belden do?”