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The Trixie Belden series is a series of girl detective novels, written between 1948 and 1986. The first six books, which introduced the main cast, were written by Julie Campbell Tatham, while the remaining 33 were ghost-written by a variety of authors under the pseudonym Kathryn Kenny.
The titular Trixie is a thirteen year old girl who lives in the fictional town of Sleepyside-on-Hudson, in New York State. She and her three brothers (sixteen year old Brian, fourteen year old Mart, and six year old Bobby) live on Crabapple Farm, which has been in their family for at least three generations. The first book sets up Trixie developing a friendship with Honey Wheeler, a lonely rich girl who has just moved into the Manor House next to their farm, and the two investigating the case of fifteen year old Jim Frayne, who has run away from his abusive stepfather, and who is adopted by Honey's parents at the end of the second book. The two girls were behind the forming of their club, the Bob-Whites of the Glen, or BWGs, which consisted of Trixie, Brian, Mart, Honey, Jim, local girl Diana Lynch, and New York City orphan and ex-street-gang member, Dan Mangan.
Six of the seven club members were paired off romantically, though romance was rarely explicit in the books; Honey had a long-standing crush on Brian, Mart and Diana developed feelings for each other, and Trixie and Jim had something of a romance, though this was downplayed in later books.
This series contained examples of:
- Abusive Parents: Jim's stepfather is said to be abusive, but we get no specific information.
- Adults Are Useless
- Police Are Useless: Somehow, this group of teenagers was more able to solve mysteries than the police force.
- Amateur Sleuth: The series is based on the premise of amateur sleuthing.
- Big Applesauce: A lot of the plot of The Mystery of the Blinking Eye conspicuously takes place around big New York landmarks.
- Busman's Holiday: The number of plots that kicked off with 'at least Trixie can't find a mystery here' was staggering.
- Chastity Couple / No Hugging, No Kissing: The books as a whole kept the budding romances non-explicit, but this is particularly apparent, particularly to modern eyes, in the case of Trixie and Jim. Their mutual attraction was mentioned several times throughout the series, and Trixie frequently wore an identification bracelet that Jim had given her, and a locket containing his photograph, but they rarely so much as held hands or hugged, and never kissed.
- Conveniently Precise Translation: In The Mystery of the Blinking Eye, the prophecy written by the strange Mexican woman at the airport rhymes perfectly when translated from Spanish into English. The Bob-Whites argue over whether a line should be read "big headed man" (a man with a large head), or "big-headed man" (a man who thinks a lot of himself), but this double-meaning would not have existed in the original Spanish; it is an artifact of the translation.
- Everybody Hates Mathematics: Well, Trixie and Honey do, at least.
- Five-Man Band
- Happily Adopted: Jim
- Happily Married: The Beldens, The Wheelers, and the Lynchs.
- Kid Detective: Trixie and Honey especially, but the other characters get in on the act also.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: There are the core 6 characters, plus their families, plus the recurring townsfolk characters, plus characters that may appear in only 3 or so books, and then there's also all the one off characters that appear for one story only. It can get pretty confusing.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The prophecy in Mystery Of The Blinking Eye. Was it really foretelling what would happen on their New York trip, or was each line apparently predicting an event merely interpreted that way afterwards? Notably, this is one of the very few mysteries that involves anything paranormal in any sense; although others mention things like "cursed emeralds" or the sasquatch, the magical angle is never explored, or thoroughly debunked.
- Mystery Magnet: Trixie specifically, but the Bob-Whites in general.
- Orphan's Ordeal: Jim and Dan each went through a lot before they met the Bob-Whites; Jim was abused by his step-father and was homeless for a time before meeting Trixie and Honey. Dan lived on the streets in New York and fell in with a criminal gang before moving to Sleepyside.
- Some books featured minor characters with similar stories, such as Neil from Trixie Belden and the Mystery of the Emeralds.
- Parental Abandonment: Jim and Dan.
- Photographic Memory: According to The Mystery of the Emeralds, Trixie has taught herself how to develop a photographic memory.
- Private Detective: Trixie and Honey plan to open the Belden-Wheeler Detective Agency when they're older.
- Romantic False Lead: Dot and Ned in The Happy Valley Mystery; Trixie begins flirting outrageously with the latter out of jealousy at how Jim is getting so cosy with the former.
- Sasquatch: In The Mystery of the Sasquatch, the Bob-Whites are camping in the woods and have several encounters with what they believe to be a sasquatch. It turns out to be a man in a snow-suit.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Mart, much to Trixie's chagrin. Other characters, such as Dan and Jim, pick this up from time to time to annoy Mart.
- Snooping Little Kid: At thirteen, Trixie was not exactly 'little', but did often stick her nose into places that required an adult. This also applies to all the members of the Bob-Whites.
- True Companions: The Bob-Whites
- Villain of the Week: There's almost always a new villain in every book.