The Barney Mystery Series
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The Rat-a-Tat Mystery (1951). Armada 1970 paperback edition. 157 pages
The Barney Mysteries were a series of six children's books written by British author Enid Blyton. The series comprised:
The Rockingdown Mystery (1949)
The Rilloby Fair Mystery (1950)
The Ring O'Bells Mystery (1951)
The Rubadub Mystery (1951)
The Rat-a-Tat Mystery (1952)
The Ragamuffin Mystery (1959)
Each of the Mysteries begins with the letter "R"... as one of the characters disingenuously points out towards the end of the series. The series rather runs out of steam following The Rubadub Mystery, arguably the best.
A theme running throughout the books is that of lost or deceased parents. Roger and Diana are brother and sister, the children of Mr and Mrs Lynton. Their irritating cousin Snubby (whose real name is Peter) comes to stay with them during the school holidays, as he has no parents. During their first adventure, they meet Barney, who makes an appearance in each of the succeeding books. Barney is older than Roger and lives a nomadic lifestyle, working in fairs and circuses (such as Rilloby Fair, which gives the name to the second book in the series).He has a monkey named Miranda who plays an important role in the mysteries. He is on a quest to find his missing father.
Another character who recurs is Miss Pepper (whose name gives the opportunity for a number of bad jokes). Firm with the children but likable, she often looks after them in the absence of Mr and Mrs Lynton.