Robin Kane: The Mystery of the Phantom

I had never heard of Robin Kane until I snagged this volume at the AAUW booksale this summer. This six-volume mystery series by Eileen Hill ran from 1966 to 1973. It was published by Whitman in picture cover format (No cellophane, thankfully, but the hinges are still very prone to cracking). My copy has solid yellow endpapers with matching duo-tone illustrations throughout; it seems there are endpaper variations for the series, and tall and short formats available.

The Mystery of the Phantom is the second book in the series. The “Phantom” in the title is actually not a ghost, just Robin’s name for the mysterious culprit sabotaging Mr. Hunter’s latest documentary. A valuable golden fish being used as a prop disappears from his office. Later a disguised prowler cuts the telephone line from the Hunters’ house. If the film falls through Mr. Hunter could lose a lot of money, as well as a shot at a prize. It’s up to Robin and her friends to trap the Phantom and recover the golden fish before it’s too late.

The main group consists of thirteen-year-old Robin and her older brother Kevin, as well as Mindy and Michael Hunter. Their neighbor Joe, recently moved to California from England, makes some appearances here as well. Robin and her friends seem to lead a sort of charmed life that is so much fun to read about. Mr. Kane writes a newspaper comic strip, while Mrs. Kane carves driftwood and is a domestic goddess. Mr. Hunter is a rich filmmaker,which gives them more exotic opportunities. All of the teens are talented, athletic, and smart, and Robin even occasionally reflects on their personal growth.

The series is really quite similar to Trixie Belden in the make-up of the group, the rich/homey house contrast, the small-town feel, and the main character’s aspirations to be a detective. While the mystery was a little on the tame side, it was actually appropriate for the friends to be tackling without police help, and still allowed Robin to show off her mental skills.

I’ll have to keep an eye out for the other books in this series. It appears that they do follow a chronological order. Is anyone else familiar with them?

Published in: on October 18, 2009 at 12:16 pm  Comments (6)  
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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I never heard of these books but they look delightful. Yes, they do sound like Trixie Belden and other similar books. I’m always on the lookout for good vintage young adult novels.

  2. Mrs. B.-
    Thanks for stopping by! I’ve found that Whitman seemed to publish a lot of fun but light YA novels in the sixties, and they’re pretty easy to find.

  3. […] I have the second book and will probably read it as some point to compare (at the very least it will be a quick), but I much prefer other Whitman mystery series like Trixie Belden or Robin Kane. […]

  4. I read this when I was a kid many, many years ago. It stayed with me. I’ve read hundreds and hundreds of books, but the homey atmosphere, the settings and the story are as fresh in my mind now, as they were forty years ago. I just ordered this from ebay, and will be reading it as an oldie, all over again.

    • Thank you for sharing! I keep meaning to track down other volumes in this series but always forget to do so. I think if I had first read these as a child I would have reread them frequently, as I did with Trixie or the Secret Seven.

  5. I have all 6 of these books that I read as a child back in the 70’s. They stuck with me a bit as I do remember the hamburgers (all the time) and the shed that the Dad used to write his comic strip. I also remember the kids being in the Rose Parade with their horses.

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