RARA-AVIS: "William Arden" and the Three Investigators

From: William Denton ( wtd@pobox.com)
Date: 20 May 2005

I mentioned a while back that I first read Dennis Lynds when I was about 11 or 12, and found the Three Investigators series. Robert Arthur created it, and "William Arden" wrote about a dozen more in the seventies and eighties. Only years later did I find out this was really Dennis Lynds!

Dennis, how did you come to write for that series? Did you already know Robert Arthur or someone involved with it, or did they approach you cold? Did you like writing young adult mysteries? And why did they come out under the William Arden name, when you were doing the Kane Jackson series at the same time? You mentioned publishers wanting to keep series separate, but here was a guy writing for kids and adults at the same time.

The series is quite popular with people on the list and I bet it was a major introduction to mysteries for those of us who were born after the mid-fifties. The first one came out in 1964, and the first one by William Arden was #10, THE MYSTERY OF THE MOANING CAVE (1968). I read most of them and liked them all, though the Arthurs and Ardens were my favourites.

A few days ago I reread #12, THE MYSTERY OF THE LAUGHING SHADOW (1969)
(same copy I've had for 25 years), which has all the required situations, but throws in a lot of unusual stuff I wasn't expecting: anthropology and archaeology and mention of the peopling of the Americas; some Mongol history and an introduction to Genghis Khan and his descendants; talk about the president (Nixon) and his diplomatic relations with China; a visit to a hobo jungle; and a young guitar-playing hippy who encourages people to free themselves from their possessions. It must have opened the eyes of some of the kids who read it. It wasn't set in some generic place and time completely divorced from reality.

I'm catching up on list mail and am really enjoying the disussions with Dennis. It's great reading and a treat to have you here.



William Denton : Toronto, Canada : http://www.miskatonic.org/

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