Frederick's Reviews > The Mystery of the Stuttering Parrot

The Mystery of the Stuttering Parrot by Robert Arthur
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Nov 28, 07

bookshelves: childrensliterature
Recommended for: People interested in pulp fiction or in Alfred Hitchcock's affect on pop culture.
Read in March, 1970

I read this when I was ten or so. I might have been eleven. This means I read this in 1970 or '71. The edition I had had the cover you see here. Notice the bust of Alfred Hitcock on top of the cabinet!
I think I actually ordered this from a magazine aimed at kids. I was a Roald Dahl fan at that age and avoided mysteries. I certainly avoided HARDY BOYS books, but the name Alfred Hitchcock above the title lured me. You have to bear in mind that at that time, not only was Alfred Hitchcock still alive, but his image and voice would have been known to a lot of people. His television series, ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS, was widely re-run in prime time in that era. I used to do an imitation of him to amuse my friends.
My elder brother had two collections of horror stories edited by Alfred Hitchcock and featuring introductions by him. The covers of those had Hitchcock's face hidden prominently. (One showed his face as a giant haunted house in the moonlight, a frightened couple running up its porch steps.) Hitchcock, of course, had his magazine ALFRED HITCHCOCK'S MYSTERY MAGAZINE. (It's still in existence, actually, a generation after the death of its namesake.) In short, Hitchcock's publicity machine not only rolled, it did more than most publicity machines, inasmuch as it employed a battery of artists. Somebody busy doing set designs in Hollywood might have an interest in drawing a cover for the magazine or an anthology, etc. Writers wrote for his magazine, stories from the magazine were filmed for the show, and at least one author whose book had been turned into a Hitchcock movie was a regular contributor to the magazine. (Robert Bloch wrote PSYCHO and Hitchcock's magazine helped keep Robert Bloch's name prominent.)
I suspect Robert Arthur, who wrote THE MYSTERY OF THE STUTTERING PARROT and the rest of THE THREE INVESTIGATORS Series, was one of the people who wrote scripts for ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS, and I'm almost certain a lot of his stories wound up in the magazine.
I read THE MYSTERY OF THE STUTTERING PARROT and rather liked it. I did not warm to it the way I would if it had been a whimsical book. But, I knew it wasn't meant to be whimsical. I knew it was written much later than the initial ten or so HARDY BOYS books, and was therefore an imitator of those. But the pulp fiction aspect intrigued me. I admired the fact that HITCHCOCK had a machine running in his name. For all I knew, a team of writers put THE THREE INVESTIGATORS series together, not just an author named Robert Arthur. (I don't know the answer, but I feel safe saying Robert Arthur was or is a real person and that he did write a number of pretty scary stories in his lifetime.)
The cover art makes this particular edition fun for me. It's gaudy and silly and it plays by all the rules of such cover art. Somehow, children have stumbled on shady doings and risk the worst. And the worst will never involve any notion of genuine evil. Norman Bates does not figure in the routines of THE THREE INVESTIGATORS.
For almost forty years I've been wondering if there were any more than three or so books in this series. Looking up "Robert Arthur" on Goodreads.com has shown me that there are at least fifteen of them. I had no idea.
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