Cover by Charles Stewart. 1963, Armada edition.


Above is the cover of the actual copy I read as a boy in the late Sixties. It’s a remarkably well-preserved book. I may have been an over-fastidious child.

But its significance is not just personal, it was the first paperback of the title to be issued. What does the charming period cover show? A thief who leaves big footprints (Buster is sniffing them out) has stolen valuables from Fatty’s shed. Who can have dared carry out such a deed? Does the culprit know what he’s letting himself in for?

More of that sacreligeous crime-scene later, but I want to take this investigation slowly... When I open the book at the front end pages, I am faced with the following notes that I made in 2005 when researching
Looking For Enid:

‘In 1960 Gordon Landsborough, a publisher, approached Enid’s agent George Greenfield about his idea for mass market paperbacks for children. Enid was consulted and she saw the sense in the idea, and so a batch of books was released to Armada. In 1962 there were six Armada Blyton titles (two Naughtiest Girls, two Adventurous Fours and two Circus titles). In 1963 eight Mysteries were added, including ‘Invisible Thief’. The publishing exercise was a great success and Armada was bought out by Collins, who sensibly kept the Armada name for the imprint.’

Armada did for sales of Enid Blyton what Penguin had done for the likes of Evelyn Waugh and Graham Greene, twenty years earlier. Can you claim to have sailed with the Armada? I feel I can.

Before I get stuck into the chapter summary, I need to say something about the way this particular book has been illustrated over the years. First, it was the first book not to be illustrated by Joseph Abbey. I'm surprised he lasted as long as he did. But Jean Muir, who designed the cover, was only commissioned for this one title. No wonder, is Goon kicking dust at Buster or is he saluting him?

Cover by Jean Main. 1950, Methuen edition.

More significantly, this was Treyer Evans first commission for internal drawings, and following the solid-to-brilliant job (that you'll see) he did, he was asked to do illustrations plus cover for the next several Mysteries.

But as a paperback,
Invisible Thief was also a break with earlier titles. Mary Gernat, who drew internal illustrations for the first seven titles in 1966, was promoted to doing covers only. And in 1968, Jenny Chapple was given the opportunity to do the drawings inside the book.

In short, this essay will be illustrated by the work of two new artists, Treyer Evans and Jenny Chapple. Though nothing will touch the exquisite, timeless-on-the-one-hand, sixties-on-the-other, 1963 beauty of the cover illustration by Charles Stewart to be found at the head of this page.

Orange path through the garden, orange footprints and orange sky? Groovy, Buster!



It’s summer. Fatty and co. have been lying in Pip and Bets garden lapping up the sunshine. Buster is one hot dog, radiating heat. They all want a mystery though as its the fourth week of the hols. They think they might come across one by going to the gymkhana at Petter’s Field where Inspector Jenks will be accompanying his god-daughter who is riding in the competition. But in the meantime they split up for lunch.


They meet the inspector in the field. He introduces them to his god-daughter Hilary, sitting on a fat little pony.

Treyer Evans illustration, 1950.

When they’re at Petter’s Field the Inspector is told of a robbery that’s taken place at Norton House. Alas, he wants to conduct the initial investigation with policemen rather than Find-Outers! Fortunately (for us), it turns out that Hilary, the god daughter, lives at Norton House and is now in tears about the burglary, so Fatty and Bets offer to accompany her home.


The Find-Outers - plus Hilary and horse - walk until they come to the lane where Larry and Daisy depart for home. A little later Pip leaves them to go down the lane to his home. Leaving Fatty and Bets to walk up the hill with Hilary. Luckily, when Enid writes this, she’s being consistent with the mental map she has of Bourne End. So I’ve been able to annotate the aerial photograph below. The blue tacks are the homes of the Find-Outers (from left to right: Hilton, Trotteville, Daykin). The red tacks represent the rough whereabouts of Petter’s Field (to the south) and Norton House (to the north). At first glance you may feel that this aerial view doesn’t add much to an understanding of Invisible Thief, but bear with me. Enid was well into the flow of Bourne End/Peterswood geography by this stage in the series, and I’m going to try and hold onto her coat-tails for the course of the book, to see where that takes us.

Screen shot 2012-09-20 at 13.02.51


Fatty has a good look round at Norton House.

Cover by Timothy Banks, 2016

The thief has left massive footprints and glove prints. He went up a ladder to steal valuables from the first floor, but it’s not clear how he got down again, as the house-keeper, Jinny, was watching the ladder.

Treyer Evans illustration, 1950……………………………………………Jenny Chapple illustration, 1968

As well as footprints, curious criss-cross marks within a circle are found in the garden too.

At this point I’m going to say who the thief is. (I’m assuming everyone reading this analysis has read the book, so don’t think, ‘spoiler alert’, think of a lightbulb being switched on in a darkened room!) The invisible thief is, was, and always will be Twit the baker, a petite man who conducted the robbery at Norton House, while wearing extra large shoes and gloves that he kept out of sight in his bread basket, the setting down of which on dusty ground being what made the curious criss-cross markings. He was able to male his way down drainpipe then close the window that had given him access to the pipe by being first on the scene.


One clue found on the scene by the policeman called Tonks, is a piece of paper that has ‘2 Frinton’ and ‘1 Rods’ on it. Tonks tells Fatty that Goon will be back soon to take over. At Pip's place, Fatty updates the others and Bets realises that Frinton is a house down by the river.


Goon comes back from being on course about disguise. He's phoned about robbery, but when he gets there Fatty opens the door so Goon cycles away, assuming he's been hoaxed. However, this is the house next door to Larry and Daisy, who are helping their neighbour. Poor Mrs Williams is rather shaken up. In the illustration below, she seems to be seeing two Fattys. Two Fattys and an invisible thief? Dear me, this mystery is getting out of hand.

Treyer Evans illustration, 1950.


The description of the house is consistent with the houses on New Road as described in
Strange Bundle. There is a front door and a kitchen door. Fatty walks down the path from the kitchen door, which goes past the sitting-room window where Mrs Williams had been asleep, and comes across the large footprints. Fatty wonders if there would also be any mark like the big roundish one that he came across at Norton House:

He hunted about for one; and he found it! It was very faint, certainly, and the criss-cross marks could hardly be seen. The roundish print was by the kitchen door, on the dusty path there. Something had been stood there - what was it?

Eventually Goon turns up to do some ploicework, giving the Fns-Outers a chance to mock his efforts.


Next day the Find-Outers are in Fatty’s shed trying to get a handle on the case. Larry is to interview the postman, who delivered parcels to both burgled houses. And Pip is to interview the baker who delivered bread. Daisy and Bets are to talk to the girl who delivers groceries from Harris’s. Fatty? He’s going to follow up the ‘2 Frinton’ clue by staking out the house, Frinton Lea, by the river.

So they split up. Pip goes to his house to catch the noon delivery of bread. Larry goes with him on the assumption that it’s as good a place to hang about for the postman as anywhere. Bets and Daisy have to go to another side of town, which is where the Harris delivery van goes in the morning.

Treyer Evans illustration, 1950……………………………………………Jenny Chapple illustration, 1968

But they get their interview done quickly and join Larry and Pip at the Hiltons' place. The four Find-Outers are swinging on the gate waiting for the baker.


The baker turns up:

He was a cocky little bantam of a man.
“Hallo, kids,’ he said as he came up to the gate, ‘Having a swing-swong, eh?’

Saucy Twit turns down Pip’s offer of saving him the walk to the house itself. He doesn’t want boys messing about with his nice, clean basket. Actually, he doesn’t want anyone discovering that there is a big pair of boots and gloves under a white cloth placed under the bread itself. Twit the baker! One wonders what other names Enid considered calling her villain: Tit? Turd? Mr Kipling? Yes, all of them and more, I expect.

Fatty has told the others that he’ll be in disguise down at Frinton Lea. But Goon, who knows about the ‘2 Frinton’ clue, is there in disguise too. Goon, more in fancy dress than disguise, is fishing from a boat. Cue the brilliant cover of the first German edition of
Mystery of the Invisible Thief. Great use of white, and what I’d call vintage green. Hang on a minute - is that a string vest Goon’s wearing? He looks like Biffa Bacon’s father, the guy who wreaks havoc in the Viz cartoon strip. Watch out Find-Outers or you’ll get your heads kicked in!

Walter Born illustration, 1956, Erika Klopp Verlag edition, Germany.

Enid describes Goon as wearing a cloth cap with a loud check pattern, a scarf of sickly green and a coat of tight blue alpaca which was open to reveal red braces. Lest we forget.

After lunch, the four Find-Outers go back down to Frinton Lea and come across the fisherman eating his lunch on the bank. Again they try and address remarks to 'Fatty' but then Bets notices the massive size of his feet and hands. It’s not Fatty, but it may be the thief, who has clambers back into his boat and resumes fishing!


Larry and Daisy try and identify Fatty who is supposed to be nearby. Meanwhile, Pip and Bets see Twit the baker park his van a fair way from the house (the road doesn’t go any further) and approach Frinton Lea on foot. The cocky baker cheeks Pip, then mocks the fisherman in the boat (Goon). Alas Goon misses the chance to knock the living daylights out of Twit. Larry and Daisy eventually locate the true Fatty, fishing from the bank. On hearing their theory, Fatty advises them to phone Goon.

Treyer Evans illustration, 1950……………………………………….…Jenny Chapple illustration, 1968

Goon does not answer, of course, being in a boat. When Goon, back at base, gets the second call, made after the Find-Outers have had two ice-creams each - he thinks Larry is mocking him and bangs down the receiver. Meanwhile, Fatty has found out that the only man living at Frinton Lea has been very ill and could not possibly be the thief.

I should include this odd cover at this stage. But does it show Goon in disguise or Fatty?

Uncredited cover, Dragon Books, 1968

I suspect it's Fatty, with Larry and Daisy in attendance. But what is that in Fatty's right hand? It looks like a phone, but as the cover was made in 1978, it's long before mobiles. Anyway, Fatty has no need of a phone to bamboozle both Goon and the other Find-Outers. He has his naked wits!


So that’s it for Frinton Lea. A lovely detour cum dead-end. Having had quick word with the woman who owns Frinton Lea, and ruled out certain possibilities, Fatty catches up with the others as they emerge from the telephone box and he gleefully tells them that they've just told Goon that Goon himself, albeit in disguise, is the thief!

Time for another map on which I’ve added a third red tack, Frinton Lea, the middle one. The basket symbol, which I’ve also added, shows how pervasive the baker’s presence has become by this stage in the book. Unobtrusively, Enid threads him through the weave of the story. He has burgled Norton House and the house next door to Larry and Daisy. He has cheeked Pip at his own house and at Frinton Lea. As we’ve seen from the Armada cover that heads this page he will strike right at the heart of Peterswood, God help us. But not just yet.

Screen shot 2012-09-20 at 14.49.31

First, the Find-Outers try to rest the initiative from the mysterious thief. Pip reckons that they should go to the cobbler’s and ask who in Peterswood wears size 12 shoes. They are in the tea-shop called Oliver’s when he gets this brain-wave. The tea-shop in present day Bourne End is called Lee’s. It’s almost opposite the old police station, just as it should be. And a few shops along from the tea shop is a shoe repairs business. Here is a view of it, courtesy of the Google van’s camera. It’s also a trophy engraving business, just the place that Hilary would have gone to after another gymkhana triumph. Pity about the cars. If it wasn’t for them we’d still be in touch with a more cultured time and more leisurely lives.

Screen shot 2012-09-20 at 15.00.45


I much prefer the following sketch of the inside of the cobbler’s. It’s one of the original illustrations by Treyer Evans, and I remember it from the Armada paperback of my childhood, in which it was reprinted. Yes, I’ve had this image in my mind for more than forty years. The customer is Fatty, in disguise as a tramp, wearing down-at-heel size 11 boots that he's sourced from Sheepridge. His chat-up line to the Peterswood cobbler is: ‘
I bet you haven’t got anyone in this here neighbourhood that’s got bigger feet than mine!’ From the reply, he learns that there are two men in Peterswood with size 12 feet. PC Goon and Colonel Cross.

Treyer Evans illustration, 1950

Goon then comes into the shop, in disguise, asking the same kind of question. And after getting curt replies from the cobbler - who’s patience for answering questions about huge feet and rubber heels has come to an end - Goon joins Fatty on the bench outside the shop.


There follows that classic scene whereby the other Find-Outers come by, recognise Goon (but not Fatty), and approach the bench in turn to ask Goon a daft question. Goon gets madder and madder, while Fatty can hardly control his mirth. See my book,
Looking for Enid, for all the fun of that particular farce. As for the illustrators of Mystery of the Invisible Thief, sadly they don't touch this scene.

Goon slinks off to the police house. Fatty reveals his identity to Daisy, who tells him that following on from the ‘1 Rod’ clue, they’ve found a family called Rodneys who live up the hill and of Rodericks who live near Fatty. Fatty tells her that the Rodericks live near him and that none of them have size 12 shoes. He asks Daisy to go and fetch him lunch as he plans to follow Goon that afternoon.


Fatty shuffles his way from the bench near the cobbler’s to the bus-stop bench near Goon’s house. As the following Google image shows, there are two benches outside the boarded up police house, which, as I mention in my analysis of
Secret Room, is due for demolition by Tesco. Perhaps it is appropriate that there is a weeping willow by the bench instead of a bus stop. The tarnished jewel at the centre of Peterswood will soon be there no longer. I sense Goon turning in his grave. Or is it Enid? Of course, there will be advantages for the people of Bourne End when the ex-police house has been replaced by a Tesco Express. In days to come they’ll be able to get home deliveries of freshly baked bread. ‘TESCO is the new TWIT’, will surely be emblazoned on the side of the company’s white vans. That is, if its marketing operation is fit for purpose.

I wonder if the old police house in Bourne End is anything like the TARDIS on
Doctor Who. That is, a lot bigger and more significant on the inside than it seems to be at first glance from the outside. A lot more significant in terms of Time And Relative Dimensions In Space. As is my collection of Mysteries. Just 15 old books on a shelf from the outside. But then you open them up - I mean really get stuck into them - there seems no end to their positive qualities.

Screen shot 2012-09-20 at 15.23.56

Back to the book. Earlier Goon had gone into the back door of his house and stripped off his disguise. Daisy sits down with Fatty again and hands him his lunch. She tells him that Larry has looked up names of houses in the directory and has come up with Rodways, down by Pip’s house. Fatty directs operations from the bench: Daisy and Bets are to go to the Rodneys to ask for jumble for the sale. And Rodways? Well, that’s only a little cottage and it seems it can wait. Fatty enjoys his lunch, full of anticipation of the chase to come.

When Goon makes his way into the front room to go through some papers, he notices the tramp from the cobbler’s sitting on the bench outside:

‘Turned up again like a bad penny!’ said Goon to himself.

He has his lunch and comes up with the same list of Rods that the Find-Outers did. He works out his plan of campaign and clomps through to the hall. Again he notices the old tramp on the bench:

‘Lazy old thing!’ thought Mr Goon. He wheeled his bicycle quickly to the front, got on it and sailed away before Fatty could even have time to sit up!

Thinking about it, there’s no real reason for Enid to have included this long and detailed scene. I can see why she did though. ‘Location, location, location!’ Or do I mean, ‘Anticipation, anticipation, anticipation’? The juxtaposition of bench and police station, tramp and policeman, Fatty and Goon, what’s-happened-so-far and what’s-still-to-happen, is compelling.

Goon cycles to the Rodneys, where Daisy and Bets have already got a bagful of boots for the jumble sale, but no extra large ones. Then he cycles to the Rodways, the cottage near Pip’s down the lane that leads to the river. Larry and Pip have already found a large oilskin inside, but the old woman who lives in the house assures them that her son has small feet and hands.

Treyer Evans illustration, 1950……………………………………………Jenny Chapple illustration, 1968

Someone came up the path and called in. ‘Granma! Baker-boy here.’
‘Gosh it’s that awful little peacock of a baker again!’ said Pip in disgust, ‘We can’t seem to get rid of him.’

After the baker makes a jaunty exit, Goon arrives for a skirmish with the boys. Goon then wakes up the old lady who gives him short shrift.


Meanwhile, Fatty has gone to Colonel Cross’s place which, like Frinton Lea, is close to the river. He finds out that the colonel has just got back from India, so he couldn’t have committed the robberies. However, the size of his shoes and the pattern of the heels is spot on. Fatty establishes that Colonel Cross gave a pair to the village jumble sale the previous year.

Cover by Timothy Banks, 2016

More than that, he gets given a pair of the colonel’s old boots. Goon turns up and wants those boots, but Fatty-the-tramp is off:

Fatty turned a corner and hurled himself through a hedge into a field. Across the field, over the stile, across another field, down a lane, round a corner - and here was the front gate of his own house!

I suppose you want an annotated map of that. Well, it is beyond my map-making powers! Be content with the above Jason Ford cover. Besides, something else has come up...


In chapter 16, page 116, of the original Methuen edition, when the Find-Outers have come across Fatty doing a little jig around his shed - so pleased is he to have the correct size 12 shoes in his possession - everyone makes their reports. Larry tells Fatty that he and Pip also got mixed up with Goon when he arrived at
Rodneys. Now this is an error as it was the girls who were checking out the Rodneys. Larry and Pip were at Rodways. Perhaps this put me on the alert for mistakes, because I then came across an error in each of the following two chapters.


In chapter 17, page 127 of my same working copy, when Bets and Fatty have gone to call on Miss Kay, who runs the annual jumble sale from her house, there is a typo. It comes when Fatty is having a verbal joust with Twit the baker who lives next door to Miss Kay, his cousin. The text says about the baker: ‘He strutted up to his own gate and stood there, going up and down on his jeels in rather an insolent manner, leering at Bets and Fatty.’ Now obviously it should be ‘heels’ not ‘jeels’. Fatty goes on to say: ‘That’s enough, Twit,’ in a stern grown up voice, so maybe going up and down on your jeels is something Fatty recognises and thoroughly disapproves of. But, no, I jest. It’s another typographical error, which I’ll come back to.

That chapter ends with the disappointing news that the previous year’s pair of Colonel Cross cast-offs were stolen before the jumble sale rather than bought by an identifiable individual. Fatty is depressed not to have that vital bit of info. Indeed he thinks the case has come to a dead end.


Fatty is further depressed to discover that his shed has been broken into. Several precious things have been stolen: his silver knife, a silver box and a cigarette case. Naturally, there are big footprints in the ground around the shed. Larry reckons that the thief may have got to the shed via the back gate which leads into the lane. This sounds like the lane mentioned repeatedly in
Mystery of the Missing Man. It’s reassuring, from the mental map point of view, to see it touched on in passing here.

Chapter 18 ends with a third error. Fatty reckons they should enquire at his own house to see if anyone saw anything at the shed. ‘Good idea,’ said Larry. ‘Come on - et’s go and find out.’ Obviously there’s a missing ‘l’ from the beginning of ‘let’s’.

Three mistakes in as many chapters. I’ve checked with the other editions of
Invisible Thief that I’ve got, to see if and when they were put right. First, I have what was Gillian Baverstock’s own copy of Invisible Thief. This is not a book that was ever at Green Hedges, because, although it has a lovely dust-jacket, it is an example of the eighth impression, printed in 1966. The ‘let’s’ error has been corrected, but neither ‘jeels’ nor ‘Rodneys’ has been put right. Funny, because, on the cover, Goon would seem to be rocking up and down on his heels to please Buster!

The Armada edition dates from three years earlier, but obviously they did their own proof-reading of the book, because they’ve picked up another of the errors. Both ‘let’s’ and ‘heels’ are corrected, though ‘Rodneys’ is not. One wouldn’t spot that Rodneys was an error unless one was paying fairly close attention. Therefore, I must give the 2003 Egmont edition its due, because in that book Rodneys has been changed to Rodways! Well done some anonymous eagle-eyed proof-reader! As you can see from the last image, the book has a splendid cover as well, courtesy of Jason Ford, which manages to show Fatty leading Hilary home to Norton House from the beginning of the book, and Fatty, dressed as a tramp, getting his hands on Colonel Cross’s old boots towards the end. Time and Relative Dimensions in Space!


The cook tells the Find-Outers who had called round that day. Goon shows Fatty a note that he received: 'TROTVILLS NEXT - Bigfeet'. Fatty realises that the note came from the same notebook that had 1 Rods and 2 Frinton on it.


Not having been told about the shed robbery, Goon thinks that the thief will break into the Trotteville house that night. . Thanks to Buster barking, everyone in the household is woken up when Goon does his rounds, and Goon has to accept ridicule from mr and Mrs Trotteville. Which is rather unfair!

Jenny Chapple illustration, 1968………………………………Treyer Evans illustration, 1950.

This is an odd part of the book, with Enid seemingly treading water with the plot.


Fatty needs haircut. While he is out getting that done, Pip takes the pair of Colonel Cross's boots and puts them on his feet in order to make huge footprints over a newly dug bed behind Fatty's shed. When he sees the new footprints, Fatty is shocked. But after Pip has had his fun he admits the trick.


Larry, Daisy and Bets fall on Pip and pummel him.

Jenny Chapple illustration, 1968

This is the only image by Jenny Chapple that is not an echo of one drawn by Treyer Evans for the original publication. Luckily, it's a fairly good one, though it doesn't have the energy of a Mary Gernat, with the figures remaining too static and vertical.

Fatty does not join in the mock beating. For him, the penny has dropped. He thinks it through in his shed, and invites the others to do the same independently - they all have the basic information. Moving up to his parents’ house, Fatty phones Inspector Jenks and asks him to come along to the White House and to bring Goon with him. Fatty takes them into the study of his parents’ house. When the rest of the Find-Outers turn up, Bets asks: ‘Why this room? You never use it for visitors. Is it something to do with the mystery, Fatty?’ ‘Not really,’ is Fatty’s reply. But it is, effectively. Because sitting in the study they can hear the click of a gate and footsteps coming along the path that leads along the study wall to the kitchen. Fatty intercepts Twit and asks him to enter the study for the denouement.


Twit has to be congratulated in a way. He really got to the heart of Peterswood and took on the challenge of Fatty and the Find-Outers with insolent panache. However, once his bubble is pricked, he collapses on a chair and begins to tremble.

Treyer Evans illustration, 1950.

When Goon leads him off, Enid enjoys herself to the extent of writing a sentence that alludes to three kinds of bird:

He was no longer a little bantam of a man, peacocking about jauntily - he looked more like a small, woebegone sparrow.

The story ends with the inspector promising double ice-creams all round.


Here is a picture of Enid from about 1950, when
The Mystery of the Invisible Thief was published. That’s the same year as the following titles appeared: Five Fall into Adventure, Hurrah for Little Noddy, Mister Meddle’s Muddles, Mr Pinkwhistle Interferes, The Pole Star Family, The Rilloby Fair Mystery, Rubbalong Tales, The Seaside Family, Secret Seven Adventure, The Ship of Adventure, The Wishing Chair Again and In the Fifth at Malory Towers.

I can hear a voice from the bushes, shouting: “Go on, Enid, take a day off!”


As you can see, in the above photo Enid is leaving Green Hedges in Beaconsfield, taking the dog (which is called Laddie, not Green Hedges as you might think) for a walk. No doubt she’s got another bun in the oven, book-wise, but she is indeed having the day off from writing. What has she got in her basket? Oh, a pair of Kenneth’s neat little boots which she’s taking to the cobbler’s at Bourne End. It’s a three mile walk, but she misses no opportunity to have a look around her old haunts. While the cobbler works on the boots, Enid will walk the streets of the village she loves...

I like to think the following poem of Enid’s was in her mind that day she stepped out:

Now let me stand and gaze -
But ah, so lavishly is beauty spread
These April days,
There is no place to tread.
Then I must choose
To put away my shoes
And kneel instead.

Of course, when Enid kneels she has to lay the basket that contains her beloved’s boots on the ground. And so we end up with this. Or at least I do:

Screen shot 2012-09-21 at 12.23.21

Please note that these basket symbols are not to be thought of as steel baskets like they have at new-fangled Tesco. They signify age-old, woven wooden baskets that leave sacred, criss-cross marks on both dusty and tear-damp ground alike.


Screen shot 2012-10-18 at 08.51.43

The above picture shows that the police house in Bourne End, although boarded up, was still in existence in 2012, when I first wrote this
Invisible Thief piece. By 2016, it had been demolished and the promised Tesco Express had arrived. That's it to the left in the photo below, vaguely retaining the shape of the old police house/station.

Screen shot 2016-10-06 at 11.51.48

So let's re-stage that scene from
The Mystery of the Invisible Thief. Goon in disguise, Fatty too. Sitting on the ever-present bench....

Bets giggled. "What shall we do?"

"Oh nothing much - just go up to him innocently and ask him footling questions," said Larry. "You know - what time does Tesco close? That sort of thing."

Screen shot 2016-10-06 at 11.50.34

Everyone laughed. "I'll go first," said Pip. He walked up to the bench. Fatty saw him coming and felt alarmed. Surely Pip hadn't recognised him. It looked as if he was going to speak to him. No - Pip was talking to Goon.

"Could you please tell me when Tesco closes?" Pip asked innocently.

Goon scowled, but said: "Eleven o'clock at night. Like it says on the sign."

"Thanks awfully," said Pip. Fatty was astonished. Pip knew as well as anyone else when Tesco closed. What was the point? Gosh - could the others have recognised Goon after all - and have made up their minds to have some fun with him?

Larry came next. "Oh - do you know if the shop still does 'Buy Two, Get One Free?" he asked Goon politely. Fatty almost choked, but his choke was lost in Goon's snort.

"No. Clear-Orf," said Goon, unable to stop himself from using his favourite expression.

"Thanks anyway," said Larry, politely and went off. Fatty got out his handkerchief, ready to bury his face in it if any of the others came along with a request. He hadn't bargained for this.

Up came Daisy. "Could you tell me if Mr Goon is working on the check-out these days?" she asked.

Goon nearly exploded. These kids! Here he was, in a perfectly splendid disguise, one good enough to prevent anyone from knowing him, one that should be an absolute protection against these pests of children - and here they all were, making a bee-line for him. Did they do this sort of thing to everybody? He'd have to report them - complain to their parents.

Bets was the last to come. "Please, our little dog Buster is lost up the aisles of Tesco. Will you come and help us find him?"

"No," roared Goon. "And if I do I'll chase him out of town."

"Oh, thanks very much," said Bets politely, and departed. Fatty was nearly dying of laughter, trying to keep back his guffaws. He had another coughing fit in his handkerchief and Goon looked at him suspiciously.

"Nasty cough of yours," he said. Poor Fatty was quite unable to answer. He prayed that the others wouldn't come to ask any more questions...


For sure when Enid sat down to compose herself before writing
Mystery of the Invisible Thief, she told herself that in this story, for the first time, Goon was going to take the initiative and try out some disguises of his own.

In chapter 6, Enid wrote from Goon's point of view:
'He'd show that fat fellow he wasn't the only one to use disguises. Mr Goon patted his pocket as he travelled home in the motor-coach. Grease-paint - eyebrows - a beard - a wig - he was bringing them all back. He'd trick that toad properly. A real toad, that was what that boy was.'

Goon's first disguise was as the fisherman with the check cap, the sickly green scarf, the blue alpaca coat and the bright red braces. Larry reported this suspicious character to Goon himself later, describing him as
'very ugly - puffy cheeks, rather protruding eyes and with a cough like a sheep'.

Goon's second disguise was spotted by Fatty:
"Goon! In another disguise!" thought Fatty in amazement and mirth. "He's done better this time - with dark glasses to hide his frog-eyes, and some stuff on his red face to make it look tanned."

Fatty further considered Goon's second disguise:
'He looked at the burly Goon. He wore white flannel trousers and shirt with no tie, and a belt round his portly middle. On his feet were enormous white shoes.'

The third disguise was simply a moustache that Goon was trying on when Fatty knocked at the door of his house. Enid describes the situation as follows:
"What do you want?" He asked in a deep, rather sinister voice. Fatty looked up and was extremely startled to see the scowling moustached face above him. In a trice he recognised Goon - there was no mistaking those frog-like eyes. However, if Goon wanted to think he could make himself unrecognisable by adding a moustache and a scowl, Fatty was quite willing to let him.'

I rather wish Enid had come up with another full-blown disguise. I've a feeling that Goon could have upped his game by accentuating his most prominent features. You see, the key to the art of disguise is an absence of vanity. It doesn't matter if a disguise looks good. What matters is that it fools the viewer into thinking you're someone you're not.

OK, it's coming… I can see Goon all dressed up behind Fatty's shed, considering the newly dug bed that Pip has covered in extra-large footprints so as to fool Fatty.

Goon would appear to have made heavy use of green grease-paint over his face and hands. A red waistcoat is poppingly tight over his belly, but a shiny yellow check jacket distracts from the fatness so that really he looks jolly slim. A maroon bow-tie is a subtle touch. Inspired by Toad of Toad Hall, let's hear it for Goon of Green Hedges.


Goon stands in the middle of the freshly dug bed considering the outlandish footprints. The invisible thief has struck again!


Goon moves closer to one footprint in particular, conscious of his flashy yellow suit. God, he just knows he looks handsome. But underneath Goon's fine raiments, his mind is as sharp as ever. Once a top-rank detective, always a top-rank detective. The footprint makes his own size 12 boots seem tiny. Then Goon realises he is looking at a fingerprint. He turns around so as to think things through. The thief must have the most ENORMOUS hands!


Hearing Fatty and the others coming through the garden gate, Goon moves off the flower bed and waits to see what happens. The Find-Outers all see the prints on the earth.

"Gosh!" Said Fatty. "What do you make of that! Fresh-made too!"

"I say! The thief's been here - while we were gone!" Said Daisy. "Just those few minutes!"

"There's the gardener over there - we'll ask him who's been here," said Fatty. But 'the gardener' shook his head. It was perhaps Goon's finest moment. The moment when Fatty mistook the glorious Theophilus Goon for a lowly gardener.


Goon went inside with the intention of telling Mrs Trotteville that he'd finished in the garden and that she owed him ten bob. He stood in the kitchen feeling immensely proud of himself, but a bit odd.


You see, there was a list of books on the table. And Goon realised what a champion he would have been in each and every one of these books if he'd known what he knows now. About dressing up. About the art of disguise.


Internal illustrations from the original Methuen edition of
The Mystery of the Invisible Thief are taken from the Cave of Books on the Enid Blyton Society website, which is the work of Tony Summerfield.

Thanks to Google for the use of their mapping facilities. Thanks to Tesco for the delicious walnut loaf that I ate with my soup on the sunny day that I first wrote this in September, 2012.

Note: If any copyright holder wishes an image to be removed from this page then they should contact me and I will do as they ask.