Roger and Diana are brother and sister, the children of Mr. Their irritating, mischievous younger cousin Snubby whose real name is Peter comes to stay with them during the school holidays, as he has no parents. Snubby owns a black spaniel, who has the name of Loony. The other characters state that Loony was a perfect name for the dog, as Loony is very energetic and can cause trouble.

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Roger and Diana meet at the station feeling rather shy and awkward. Rockingdown Cottage is a picturesque little place. Snubby comes face to face with a monkey! Barney and Miranda arrive on the scene. Rockingdown Hall is a huge, sprawling place, sadly gathering dust after so many years of standing empty. The place is locked up Snubby keeps a watchful eye on Mr King. Mr King leads Snubby to a boat!

Barney is sure someone has been in the house. The children find the entrance to the cellars and decide to explore!

Alone in the cellars one night, Barney happens across an entrance to a secret passage. Now Barney is in heaps of trouble! Rescue at last! Funny goings-on in the old barn. The Rockingdown Mystery Review by Keith Robinson June 19, The first of the Barney "R" Mysteries takes place at Rockingdown Hall, a deserted mansion once owned by Lady Rockingdown and occupied by her son until he was killed in "a war," after which his wife died of a broken heart is that actually a medical condition?

Tragically, their two children were also killed—little Miss Arabella fell from a high nursery window, and young Master Bob later died of scarlet fever. After that the place was emptied, locked up, and forgotten—and the nurseries on the top floor were left exactly as they were, fully furnished, to gather dust and cobwebs Along come Roger and Diana to stay at a cottage nearby.

The brother and sister are home from school—but their parents have rather rudely sailed off to America, leaving the children to stay with Aunt Pam. Miss Pepper is to take charge of the cottage for a few weeks, with the help of Mrs Round, the housekeeper. Snubby makes himself a nuisance even before he shows up in the story. He cheerfully informs them that he got off at an earlier stop and walked the rest of the way! Snubby whose real name is Peter but is nicknamed Snubby due to his "snub nose" has a mad spaniel dog called Loony.

He certainly livens things up, and almost drives Miss Pepper and Mrs Round to despair with his frantic behavior. After a few days of carefree exploring and messing about, things must settle down. The children were supposed to have a tutor for the hols, much to their dismay, but Mr Young sends a telephoned message to say he has gone down with appendicitis and cannot work. So Miss Pepper rushes about trying to find a new tutor, and almost gives up searching for a suitable candidate when along comes Mr King, a man with glowing credentials.

Then along comes Barney. The three children meet him while out for a walk one day. Barney is described with corn-colored hair and very tanned skin, with curious blue eyes set wide apart. When they "explore" Rockingdown Hall that is, after they break in through a window they discover the small bedrooms and playroom on the top floor, which are filled with old toys left from the days of old.

These rooms have been locked up all this time, and are the only furnished rooms in the place. Barney decides it might a good place to sleep at night, so they all set about dusting and cleaning the rooms.

In the dead of night, Barney alone with Miranda hears all manner of strange noises coming from somewhere down below: bangs, screeches, and more bangs. So what had made the mysterious noises? Over the next few days and nights, the children try to figure it out. What on earth could a tutor be searching for?

Perhaps Mr King is not a tutor at all After a phone call to say her sister is "very ill," Miss Pepper packs her bags and heads out the door, leaving the children in the capable hands of Mr King just as the children are about convinced that the tutor is a bad lot. As the mystery deepens, the children get warmer in their quest to find the source of the strange midnight noises.

The other children are horrified at the thought of sleeping in the dark, dusty cellars, with spiders crawling about everywhere, but Barney seems perfectly relaxed about it. So, that night, he tries to make himself comfortable, using one of the shelves as a make-shift bunk.

The noises come again The others are worried, of course, and search the cellars—but it appears Barney has vanished from the face of the earth. By this time, too, the children are feeling very hostile towards Mr King, whom they believe is at the heart of the goings-on. So Roger takes the only course of action left available and goes to the police. When the police demand surrender, a villain shouts back, "We give in. Whether this is a "good mystery" or not, overall I found this novel thoroughly entertaining and very well written, especially the detailed descriptions of Rockingdown Hall and its many dusty rooms.

Each character is pretty well drawn, with Barney and Snubby being the most rounded, and Miranda instantly becoming one of my favorite pets along with Kiki the parrot and Buster the dog. Good guy or villain? A quick note here about how Blyton uses illness to shape her plots.

But measles strike their unfortunate aunt and the children are instead shipped off to stay with Miss Pepper. One might argue this is just a neat way to end things, but my guess is that Blyton had plans for a few more books in this series and, for once, wanted to tell her readers that she had big plans ahead. Other Fun Stuff


The Rockingdown Mystery

A mysterious old house with an abandoned nursery, noises in the night, and a tutor who is acting suspiciously, all add up to a first exciting adventure for the four children, where friendships are forged and mysteries need solving Mr and Mrs Lynton having gone to America, Roger, Diana and Snubby spend their summer holidays in the village of Rockingdown with Miss Pepper, staying in the Dower House belonging to a deserted old mansion the latter is, confusingly, called Rockingdown Hall in some chapters and Rockingdown Manor in others. It is at Rockingdown that they first meet Barney, the circus-boy. Together, the four children explore the mansion and Barney, who sleeps rough, takes to spending the night there. It is when he is awoken repeatedly in the night by mysterious bangs and "a curious whining, half-screeching noise" that the children begin to suspect that the building is being used for criminal activity. They investigate and become suspicious of their tutor, Mr King, believing him to be involved in whatever is going on. Alone in the cellars of the mansion, Barney comes across a hole behind a moving stone, which leads him to a rocky passage, an underground stream and caverns.


The Rockingdown Mystery (Barney Mysteries #1)


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