This is another one of those feel good Secret Seven stories where a poor unfortunate, namely a lady that lives in an old shack and makes ginger bread biscuits for the local fair, has her house burnt down. In response the Secret Seven step in to help her and her family get back onto their feet. However, a Secret Seven story would not be a Secret Seven story without a mystery to be solved, and in this one it involves a stolen violin, most likely a Stradivarius (though we are never told what it is, we are just told that it is a very old, and thus very expensive, violin, which in my mind suggests that it is a Stradivarius). By the way, I hope, like me, you didn't get it mixed up with a Fender Stratocaster, because there is a big difference.
This is a Fender Stratocaster:
And this is a Stradivarius:
Another difference is that Jimi Hendrix played a Fender Stratocaster however, as far as I am aware, he never played a Stradivarius (though I could be wrong, and who knows, he may have even smashed one up at the end of one of his concerts, which is something that he seemed to be prone to do – smashing up instruments that is, not very expensive violins).
I found Blyton to be quite clever in this story because it seemed that there were a number of events that occurred that did not seem to be all that connected, however as the story progresses all of these disparate events were easily weaved into quite a coherent ending. Mind you, it was pretty predictable in some instances. I had worked out who had stolen the violin, where it was located, and what the wailing sound out on the paddocks was, though the ending still came as quite a surprise. Also, it is one of those stories where the antagonist isn't actually all that bad, but rather he is just trying to get himself, and his family, back onto their feet without being too much of a burden to those around them.
We never actually found out why the hut burnt down, but then I guess that wasn't all that important. A part of me was hoping that it was because the father, Luke, owed the mafia money for gambling debts, and had been told that if he didn't pay up by a certain date then they would burn his house down with his family inside. However, I then realised that this is an Enid Blyton book, and while we do deal with smugglers and thieves, we generally don't have organised crime, or racketeers, as the antagonists. Even then, we are dealing with children here, and while they are able to bust open the plans of the petty criminals in the local area, I am not certain if they would be ready to graduate to dealing with organised crime.
Another interesting thing is how the Secret Seven have changed over the years. While the stories may be the same, the pictures in the books have changed somewhat. Here is a picture of the Secret Seven in the edition that I read:
Here is a picture from one of the newer editions:
Okay, it probably has nothing to do with the story itself (much in the same way that a Fender Stratocaster has nothing to do with the story) but I still thought it was interesting.