WARNING: Ripping Book Reviews are solely the judgments of Professor VJ Duke on an unlucky book that has caused him much repulsion—in one way or another. Therefore, blame must be put on the professor and nobody else. With that in mind, read on—if you are brave enough to take it.
MYSTERY AT SHADOW MOUNTAIN by FRED JOHN MELDAU
This is a novel that only the professor would find. What I mean to say is, in order to find this novel, one would have to look diligently in the tiniest crevices and corners in an out-of-the-way bookstore—and maybe even then it wouldn’t be found.
If any of the Punchy Family members are aware of this book, please let me know!
There is really no mystery at Shadow Mountain. In fact, the title would be more appropriate if it was Nothing At Shadow Mountain, since there’s nothing; no suspense, mystery, or intrigue.
I would like to quote from the inside flap of the novel:
…Van, Poke, Jim, and their friends (who couldn’t leave a mystery alone) are clever and likeable. There are also other characters—equally clever but less likeable. How their sinister schemes were discovered and what happened after that make a first-rate story of suspense and intrigue. But it is more than that. There is delightful humor (where there’s Poke there’s fun!)…
The professor takes a few issues with this inscription.
Firstly, there’s a blight. Yes, that’s right: This paragraph has a strange blight. We’ll call it The Wrong Descriptive Words Blight.
The first two sentences should read like this:
Van, Poke, Jim, and their friends (who couldn’t leave a Nothing alone) are dim and frustrating. There are also other characters—equally dim but less frustrating.
Ah, everything becomes much clearer when the paragraph is revised to read as it should.
But this raises an interesting question. Who would cause more vexation: Van, Poke, Jim, and their friends, who are dim and frustrating? Or, other characters who are equally dim but less frustrating? Personally, I think the former, but it’s really personal preference.
Secondly, this professor feels for the poor person who had to put this paragraph together. You see, he was trying to make an interesting story out of a boring story. An impossibility. All he succeeded in doing was writing his own story.
Thirdly, and lastly, the last sentence is wanting. You see, it’s a bit deceiving. It makes one think that Poke is responsible for humor, but in reality, it is Poke’s actions which are humorous. In fact, Poke can be laughed to scorn. Certainly not the humor that the author had intended, I think.
Now, I think we should mention Toyoc, a dog. But Toyoc is no ordinary dog. No, Toyoc is a genius. Very smart and able to understand…English… That’s right: Toyoc understands English.
This is the scene:
A man has come uninvited to someone’s house. Poke works for the owner of the house and he’s out in the field when the man approaches. That’s when Poke leans over to Toyoc and says:
“Stranger; get rid of him; but don’t hurt him.”
And that’s exactly what the dog does. I say, the professor would love to have a dog like that. I wonder how Poke taught him English. It’s even more of a wonder when Poke doesn’t speak properly himself.
I feel we should speak briefly about Van, Jim, and Poke here. (The names are horrid, by the way.)
It’s really hard to tell the differences betwixt these three. But the professor will try to tell you the main differences.
Van is called Van, and not Jim. Difference. Jim is called Jim and not Van. Difference. And Poke is called Poke and neither Van nor Jim. Difference. Also, Poke has trouble speaking. That’s about it.
One more thing. Van, Jim, and Poke all have one more attribute in common: An incredible appetite. In fact, their appetites are so incredible that the professor—after this scene that I will share with you—considered them more trolls than men.
Van, Jim, and Poke are out camping when they have breakfast.
“I don’t believe in making a pig of myself [how about a troll?] but…” And Jim took another large helping of cakes.
“Not to be outdone by my buddy, I’ll join you on the last lap,” and Van took the same number that Jim had taken: five large ones.
Now, this is incredible if you think about it. They each ate close to ten large pancakes. Incredible! If only it would have said something about trolls in that paragraph in the dust jacket. That would have been more interesting for sure.
Eventually, the three dull ones find a hidden entrance into Shadow Mountain which leads them into a cave where they find…Calamity Jane’s Bible, which is a wonder.
While they’re inside the cave, it collapses. But everything is okay. Once Poke holds a conversation with Toyoc, who’s waiting outside, they get saved.
Now the professor must share with you a wonder of a scene. This scene is so amazing, so incredible, so extraordinary, that’s it’s not believable.
Situation: A little girl has fallen into a lake, and Walter decides to help.
Without a moment’s hesitation Walter kicked off his oxfords, tore off his shirt and dived into the lake. About eight feet from the pier was the form of a little girl of four… …Despite the loss of his right hand and lower arm (it was amputated just below the elbow), Walter could swim well. Treading water, he manipulated the child’s limp body, so that her mouth and nose were clear of the surface. It was easy for him to tow her to the shore…
Incredible! The professor would give anything to see this scene played out. After all, there are so many questions. How could he swim fast with only one arm? How did he manipulate the child’s body so easily—and swim? What did he tow her to shore with? A stub? Clearly, this is an outstanding example of the impossible! But one thing bothers this professor. The professor was not aware that Superman had only one arm…
Well, that’s about it. There are some villains, but they’re hardly in it. They die in an auto crash at the end, so they’re really not worth mentioning. In fact, the book is hardly worth mentioning. It’s one of those novels you’d find in a corner of a…
But I repeat myself.