The Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators Mystery Series

The Three Investigators series was published by Random House from 1964 through 1987 in its original run.  The series was briefly revived later, but is now out of print in the United States.

Famous film director Alfred Hitchcock was used as a character in the books until his death.  During those years, each book prominently featured Alfred Hitchcock's name on the cover and spine.  Each book began with an introduction by Alfred Hitchcock, written by that book's author, and each book concluded with the boys reporting back to Hitchcock about the case.

The series follows the adventures of Jupiter Jones, Pete Crenshaw, and Bob Andrews from the time that they form the Three Investigators agency.  They live in Rocky Beach, California, which is in the Los Angeles area near Hollywood.  The boys are not yet old enough to drive, so they are less than 16.  Jupiter won a contest that permitted them the use of a Rolls Royce, driven by Worthington, for a period of 30 days.  One of their clients paid for them to have continued use of the Rolls Royce indefinitely.

Jupiter Jones is the brains behind the Three Investigators and is known as "First" for First Investigator.  Jupiter is overweight and a bit pompous but has an excellent memory and fantastic deduction skills.  Pete Crenshaw is known as "Second" since he is the Second Investigator.  Pete is athletic and has an unerring sense of direction.  Bob Andrews is "Records" and is in charge of Records and Research.  Bob works at the library.

Jupiter lives with his aunt and uncle, who run the Jones Salvage Yard.  The Three Investigators have a secret headquarters in a mobile home trailer that is hidden behind piles of junk in the salvage yard.  The salvage yard is often the vehicle for the mysteries, which usually center around an item purchased to sell in the salvage yard.

The series is tightly cohesive from volume 1 through volume 13.  Creator Robert Arthur wrote 10 of those books, and his hand-picked replacement, Dennis Lynds, wrote three of them.  The series branched out to other authors in addition to Lynds beginning with volume 14.  At this point, some continuity problems become apparent, although the stories continue to be just as good as the previous ones.

After Alfred Hitchcock's death in 1980, the Alfred Hitchcock character was replaced with a fictitious writer named Hector Sebastian.  Other drastic changes occurred during this time period.  The books switched to softcover in 1979.  The texts for volumes 1 through 30 were revised in 1984 and 1985, which included removing Alfred Hitchcock from all books.  The revised books are known as the "keyhole" editions because the silhouette of Alfred Hitchcock was changed to a keyhole.

Titles and Authors

Robert Arthur created this series with the idea that it would be of higher quality than other series books such as the Hardy Boys.  Arthur's books are generally considered the very best books in the series.  As Arthur's health declined, he asked Dennis Lynds to continue writing the series.

  1. The Secret of Terror Castle, 1964, Robert Arthur
  2. The Mystery of the Stuttering Parrot, 1964, Robert Arthur
  3. The Mystery of the Whispering Mummy, 1965, Robert Arthur
  4. The Mystery of the Green Ghost, 1965, Robert Arthur
  5. The Mystery of the Vanishing Treasure, 1966, Robert Arthur
  6. The Secret of Skeleton Island, 1966, Robert Arthur
  7. The Mystery of the Fiery Eye, 1967, Robert Arthur
  8. The Mystery of the Silver Spider, 1967, Robert Arthur
  9. The Mystery of the Screaming Clock, 1968, Robert Arthur

10.  The Mystery of the Moaning Cave, 1968, William Arden (Dennis Lynds)
11.  The Mystery of the Talking Skull, 1969, Robert Arthur
12.  The Mystery of the Laughing Shadow, 1969, William Arden (Dennis Lynds)
13.  The Secret of the Crooked Cat, 1970, William Arden (Dennis Lynds)

14.  The Mystery of the Coughing Dragon, 1970, Nick West (Kin Platt)
15.  The Mystery of the Flaming Footprints, 1971, M. V. Carey (Mary Virginia Carey)
16.  The Mystery of the Nervous Lion, 1971, Nick West (Kin Platt)
17.  The Mystery of the Singing Serpent, 1972, M. V. Carey (Mary Virginia Carey)
18.  The Mystery of the Shrinking House, 1972, William Arden (Dennis Lynds)
19.  The Secret of Phantom Lake, 1973, William Arden (Dennis Lynds)
20.  The Mystery of Monster Mountain, 1973, M. V. Carey (Mary Virginia Carey)
21.  The Secret of the Haunted Mirror, 1974, M. V. Carey (Mary Virginia Carey)

22.  The Mystery of the Dead Man's Riddle, 1974, William Arden (Dennis Lynds)
23.  The Mystery of the Invisible Dog, 1975, M. V. Carey (Mary Virginia Carey)
24.  The Mystery of Death Trap Mine, 1976, M. V. Carey (Mary Virginia Carey)

25.  The Mystery of the Dancing Devil, 1976, William Arden (Dennis Lynds)
26.  The Mystery of the Headless Horse, 1977, William Arden (Dennis Lynds)

27.  The Mystery of the Magic Circle, 1978, M. V. Carey (Mary Virginia Carey)
28.  The Mystery of the Deadly Double, 1978, William Arden (Dennis Lynds)
29.  The Mystery of the Sinister Scarecrow, 1979, M. V. Carey (Mary Virginia Carey)
30.  The Secret of Shark Reef, 1979, William Arden (Dennis Lynds)
31.  The Mystery of the Scar-Faced Beggar, 1981, M. V. Carey (Mary Virginia Carey)
32.  The Mystery of the Blazing Cliffs, 1981, M. V. Carey (Mary Virginia Carey)

33.  The Mystery of the Purple Pirate, 1982, William Arden (Dennis Lynds)
34.  The Mystery of the Wandering Cave Man, 1982, M. V. Carey (Mary Virginia Carey)
35.  The Mystery of the Kidnapped Whale, 1983, Marc Brandel (Marcus Breresford)
36.  The Mystery of the Missing Mermaid, 1983, M. V. Carey (Mary Virginia Carey)
37.  The Mystery of the Two-Toed Pigeon, 1984, Marc Brandel (Marcus Breresford)
38.  The Mystery of the Smashing Glass, 1984, William Arden (Dennis Lynds)
39.  The Mystery of the Trail of Terror, 1984, M. V. Carey (Mary Virginia Carey)
40.  The Mystery of the Rogues' Reunion, 1985, Marc Brandel (Marcus Breresford)
41.  The Mystery of the Creep-Show Crooks, 1985, M. V. Carey (Mary Virginia Carey)
42.  The Mystery of Wreckers' Rock, 1986, William Arden (Dennis Lynds)
43.  The Mystery of the Cranky Collector, 1987, M. V. Carey (Mary Virginia Carey)
Lynds ultimately wrote 13 of the books under the name William Arden.

Kin Platt wrote volumes 14 and 16 as Nick West.  Platt copied some passages from the Arthur books.  The plot of The Mystery of the Coughing Dragon bears a marked similarity to the plot of Arthur's The Mystery of the Vanishing Treasure.

Mary Virginia Carey, writing as M. V. Carey, wrote 15 titles.  Carey often incorporated supernatural events or various elements of the occult in her books.

Marcus Breresford, writing under the pseudonym of Marc Brandel, wrote three books.

Some people consider volumes 30 through 43 to be overall not as good as the earlier titles in the series.

The series history, author's names, and edition information were verified by consulting The Three Investigators U.S. Editions Collector Site.
Brief Summaries of #1-11
Brief Summaries of #12-22
Brief Summaries of #23-33
Brief Summaries of #34-43
Hardcover Cover Art Gallery
Softcover Cover Art Gallery
My Three Investigators Blog Posts

Building a Set

#1-28 were issued in hardcover trade editions, which went out of print in 1978.  #29-43 were only issued in softcover trade editions, but hardcover library bindings were sold to libraries.  #29-43 are extremely difficult to find in the hardcover binding, and most examples that surface are library discards.

For fans who prefer the original text versions of #1-30, seek out books that mention Alfred Hitchcock on the cover or that have his silhouette present on the cover and spine.  The revised text versions of #1-30 have the keyhole on the cover and spine rather than Alfred Hitchcock's silhouette.

The main difference between the original and revised texts of #1-30 is that Alfred Hitchcock was changed to Hector Sebastian.  Minor revisions were done to the texts.

Since the series is out of print, sales of the books remain strong.  Both the hardcover and softcover editions are desirable.  In order to build a complete set, buyers will have to pay high prices for at least some of the books.

Recommended Sources

The purpose of this page is to give an overview of the original Three Investigators series.  The later softcover series and various special editions are not represented here.

The following websites are the best sources of information concerning the Three Investigators series.  Most any detailed question can be answered by browsing these sites.

The Three Investigators U.S. Editions Collector Site
The Three Investigators Headquarters
The Three Investigators Readers' Site
The Three Investigators:  Tunnel Two

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