The Mystery Squad
8 Books

Martin Waddell

1984-1986

A series of adventures with a group of teen detectives

The Mystery Squad

In addition to checking out the far superior foreign covers to this series, below is a fantastic summary review from cwhickham.blogspot.com

"The Mystery Squad is an interesting little series of semi-adventure gamebooks, published between 1984 and 1986. I say "semi-adventure gamebooks" because the only form of interactivity is trying to solve puzzles based on illustrations; they're halfway between a Choose Your Own Adventure book, and, I suppose, an Usborne Puzzle Adventure such as Murder on the Midnight Plane."

"The Mystery Squad themselves are a thoroughly Blyton-esque outfit (indeed, the "interactivity" of their adventures is not dissimilar to The Famous Five and You, previously mentioned here, only considerably less boring): the narrator is Bodger Bacon, whose parents apparently hated him and his sister Beans, but not their brother James, and the final member of the squad is Casey, who in a blatant case of nepotism won the post of Chief of the Mystery Squad because his father is a DI. The Squad got up to eight adventures in all - including a serial vandal at the local carnival, a haunted castle that turns out to be a case of insurance fraud and a gang of antiques thieves - although if you compare the photographic covers on Demian's Gamebook Webpage it looks like the pictures may have been taken much closer together than the books were released. One wonders if any of the original models could be tracked down; the photos were taken by Peter Greenland, who appears to still be working as a professional photographer today."

"The author, Martin Waddell, is better known for a large number of children's picture books such as Owl Babies and the Little Bear series; this was his only venture into any sort of interactive fiction. The covers also feature a banner proclaiming them to be a "Solve It Yourself" adventure, although this was apparently the only series ever to have such branding, and indeed the only sort of adventure gamebook the publishers ever came up with. (The copyright page claims the "Solve It Yourself formula" is copyrighted to Waddell, which... I'm not totally convinced would stand up in a court of law, but never mind.)"

"The series' puzzles are generally rather entertaining for their age range, and the author also allows himself to be a bit snarky if the reader gives an obviously wrong answer (effectively, each puzzle is just a multiple-choice quiz, although there are obvious limitations with the format; several of the puzzles just ask the reader whether or not they've managed to solve it before going on to the next section). Where the books stand out are with their illustrations, which are consistently of a very high standard (although the fourth book appears to have some kind of printing error which meant some of the illustrations got cut off). Apart from elevating the nature of the puzzles quite a bit, the reader receives a custard pie in the face for choosing one of the especially stupid options, and this is where the illustrator had particular fun, with the series featuring ever more elaborate pieings as it goes on, with later volumes featuring the player's illustrated avatar getting covered in a pie twice their size, getting hit by half a dozen pies simultaneously or having a gigantic trebuchet fling the pie at them. (The illustrator, Terry McKenna, also appears to still be active.) The book's 'outcome' is ultimately determined by a points system that works largely on trust, with points being given out per puzzle depending on how many incorrect references the reader went to before getting the right solution, whether or not they needed a hint, and getting pied automatically meaning no points awarded for that puzzle at all."

Books in this series
The Mystery Squad and the Dead Man's Message
Martin Waddell
Terry McKenna (Illustrator)
1984

The Mystery Squad stumble across a mystery, from beyond the grave.

Goodreads
3.33
☆☆☆☆☆
★★★★★
96 pages
ISBN 9780216914162
The Mystery Squad and the Artful Dodger
Martin Waddell
Terry McKenna (Illustrator)
1984

The Mystery Squad return once again for another adventure.

Goodreads
3.89
☆☆☆☆☆
★★★★★
96 pages
ISBN 9780216914186
The Mystery Squad and the Whistling Teeth
Martin Waddell
Terry McKenna (Illustrator)
1984

The Mystery Squad return once again for another adventure.

Goodreads
2
☆☆☆☆☆
★★★★★
96 pages
ISBN 9780216914223
The Mystery Squad and the Creeping Castle
Martin Waddell
Terry McKenna (Illustrator)
1985

The Mystery Squad return once again for another adventure.

Goodreads
2
☆☆☆☆☆
★★★★★
112 pages
ISBN 9780216917088
The Mystery Squad and the Candid Camera
Martin Waddell
Terry McKenna (Illustrator)
1985

The Mystery Squad return once again for another adventure.

Goodreads
3
☆☆☆☆☆
★★★★★
112 pages
ISBN 9780216917118
The Mystery Squad and Mr Midnight
Martin Waddell
Terry McKenna (Illustrator)
1984

The Mystery Squad return once again for another adventure.

Goodreads
3.5
☆☆☆☆☆
★★★★★
112 pages
ISBN 9780216914209
The Mystery Squad and the Robots Revenge
Martin Waddell
Terry McKenna (Illustrator)
1986

The Mystery Squad return once again for another adventure.

Goodreads
3
☆☆☆☆☆
★★★★★
96 pages
ISBN 9780216918498
The Mystery Squad and the Cannonball Kid
Martin Waddell
Terry McKenna (Illustrator)
1986

The Mystery Squad return once again for another adventure.

Goodreads
5
☆☆☆☆☆
★★★★★
96 pages
ISBN 9780216918528