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Secret Seven Fireworks

Review by Nakul Datar (January 9, 2006)
"The Secret Seven's falling to bits,
It doesn't meet any more.
The only thing that is left of it,
Is the silly S.S. on the door!"

This annoying chant from Susie makes the Seven realize that they haven't met in ages, and this goads Peter and Jack into calling a meeting the same week. In fact the Seven haven't had a meeting for such a long time that Peter's gardener has stored onions in the shed. After clearing out the onions from the shed, the Seven get down to the first order of business—plans for the Guy Fawkes Bonfire!

At first, the Pam suggests making a guy exactly like Susie, but Jack points out that it would make Susie feel all the more important, so they decide to make a really large guy instead. Next, the Seven elect Peter treasurer, select a spot behind Peter's and Janet's house for the bonfire, and head into the wood to collect dead twigs and branches to build the biggest bonfire ever. On their way, they meet old Burton, the hedger-and-ditcher man, who agrees to let the Seven have all of his trimmings to heap on the bonfire. The Seven gather all sorts of wood over the morning and decide to take a rest in Burton's hut. They are surprised by Scamper's sudden barking at the door of the hut.

While the Seven are wondering why Scamper would bark at an empty hut when a large stone comes whizzing out of the door, missing Scamper by inches. Infuriated, Peter confronts the three nasty-looking men who exit from the hut. Instead of replying to Peter's questions, one of the men hits Peter with a stone on his ankle. When Peter goes off to fetch Burton, the men shake their fists at the remaining six and disappear into the wood. On a hunch that the men might be up to something fishy, Jack jots down their descriptions with amazing presence of mind. When the Seven return to their own shed after collecting the wood, Peter decides to lock up, since it contains the firework money everyone has contributed, and also the guy, which could be tampered with by Susie. The Seven are quite satisfied with the day's work and happy that their society had gotten going again after a hiatus—even though there isn't a mystery in the offing.

But the Secret Seven are never far away from a mystery, and they embark on another investigation when Colin prepones the Thursday meeting to Tuesday afternoon. Colin had gone to visit his Granny's house on Monday, and found the house in a mess. Drawers and cupboards had been ransacked and even the safe had been broken. Thankfully, Colin's grandmother was out, but her maid—Greta—had been locked in the larder. Colin called the police and his parents and was untying Greta when they arrived. As if walking in on a crime scene wasn't enough, Colin received another shock when Greta described the burglars, and their description matched the three men the Seven had encountered in Burton's hut! Greta had a gotten a good look at two of the men but not the third, but Jack had a detailed description of the third suspect in his notebook, and the Seven send Colin and Jack to the police station to supply their information to the police.

The seargent on duty is friendly to the Seven and he accepts Jack's notes joyfully. Just as the Seven feel that they can concentrate on solving a brand new mystery at last, Susie throws a spanner into the works by forming a club of her own with two visiting friends—Doris and Hilda—who are exactly like her in every way. To make the club's intentions clear, she names the club the Tiresome Three, and threatens to play spoilsport in the Seven's meetings unless Jack tells her about the new mystery. But Jack refuses to budge and the Seven meet again the next Wednesday to collect more money and to buy a mask for the guy. Once again, Colin takes centrestage with fresh news about the mystery when he reads in the paper that two of the three robbers have been captured. The third robber escapes, but the police launch a hunt for him based on Jack's description—stout, tall with ginger hair and a thick moustache. The Seven discuss ways of finding the robber have a good laugh later when they find that the mask they bought for their guy looks very much like the escaped robber!

The Tiresome Three draw first blood by hanging the Seven's guy on a fence while they are off fetching an old chair for it. The Seven are angry, and Jack decides that two can play at the game of being tiresome. He overhears the Tiresome Three's plans to find the Seven's bonfire and kick it to bits, and he innocently tells Susie that she would find the Seven's bonfire over the top of Haylings Hill. The next morning, Jack and Peter write a note on Haylings Hill, saying that they hope the Tiresome Three enjoyed the long climb and absent bonfire. In the afternoon, the Seven meet to finalize what fireworks they should buy when Pam is scared by someone looking in at the window. The Seven immediately blame it on the Tiresome Three and Jack goes home to deal with Susie.

Instead, he is surprised to find the tired Three making their weary way home after Doris hurt her ankle falling down Haylings Hill. In the meantime, Peter, George and Pam buy fireworks worth almost one pound and save the rest for newer fireworks which would arrive the next day. Peter goes to the shed to keep the remaining money when he looks at the guy and feels that he should have a pipe, and goes off to ask his father for an old one of his. However, he forgets the key in the lock and returns to find the clothes of the guy gone!

Peter and Janet are furious and they suspect Susie. They call Jack to tell him what happened, who takes the Tiresome Three to task, only to discover that the Three had been in the attic all evening helping his mother for a jumble sale. Jack doesn't believe Susie and thinks that she must have slipped out to raid the Seven's shed. The Seven look for alternate clothes for the guy the next day and decide to go spend the rest of their fireworks money in the evening. But they get another shock when they find the money gone from the shed a well! Peter does not believe that Susie could have stolen the money, but that she was just keeping it till after the bonfire so that the Seven couldn't buy the fireworks.

The Seven go off to collect more firewood to keep their mind off the recent string of mishaps, when they find the Tiresome Three kicking their bonfire. They manage to chase the Three off, but they all know the bonfire is not safe. Instead of taking turns watching the bonfire, Jack comes up with the idea of watching the Tiresome Three instead, and manages to keep them under his eye for a day and a half. However, his father asks him to help clean the car, and the Three take advantage and go for a walk at once. Jack calls Peter to be on guard, but when Peter and Janet go out to check the bonfire, they find it's been pulled to bits, with wood scattered all over the field. What's more, a big hole has been dug where the bonfire stood! Peter and Janet are ready to blame Susie once again, when they see the Three walking over the field in their direction. Susie is just as surprised to see the dismantled bonfire as Peter and Janet are, and they all realize this wasn't one of Susie's mean pranks after all.

But who could have done this? Things look glum for the Seven as they lose their bonfire, fail to trace the thief, and a gathering mist seems sure to ruin the fireworks. But with a little luck and a lot of watchfulness from Scamper, the Seven set up an explosive finale to this fireworks night...


The Seven arrive for a meeting... and Susie is wearing Jack's badge!


Up in the field, three surly men have taken over the hut belonging to Burton, the hedge-and-digger man.


The shed is burgled... and the guy's clothes have been stolen!


Preparing for Bonfire Night.


Important Secret Seven meeting... and the mystery unravels.


One of the mean villains attacks Scamper.


Bonfire Night at last – and it goes with a bang!

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