Three Investigators

The Three Investigators
Author Robert Arthur, Jr.
Language English
Genre Mystery literature
Juvenile literature
Crime fiction
Publisher Random House
Published 1964–1987
Media type Print (hardcover)

The Three Investigators is an American juvenile detective book series first published as "Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators". It was created by Robert Arthur Jr., who believed using a famous person such as movie director Hitchcock would attract attention. Random House, which is owned by Bertelsmann, is the U.S. publisher and still has some of the rights to the books. Other rights are possessed by the heirs of Robert Arthur, Jr. and the German publisher Kosmos. The characters known as the "three investigators" are three boys named Jupiter Jones, Peter Crenshaw and Bob Andrews.

Most of the mysteries involved investigation of baffling phenomena (e.g. an ancient Egyptian mummy that apparently whispered and a human skull that seemed to talk).

Introduction and history

The original series was published from 1964 to 1987 and comprised 43 books. Books number 1 to 9 and 11 were written by the creator, Robert Arthur, who also specified ideas for a few of the other stories. Arthur had been an editor for several book collections attributed to Alfred Hitchcock. The other authors were William Arden (Dennis Lynds), Nick West (Kin Platt), Mary Virginia Carey and Marc Brandel (born Marcus Beresford). All of the authors wrote their own introductions and epilogues, which were dictated purportedly by Hitchcock and later in the series a fictional writer, Hector Sebastian, who supposedly recorded the adventures of the Three Investigators from their words. The illustrators in the series began with Harry Kane and Ed Vebell and include Jack Hearne, Herb Mott, Stephen Marchesi, Robert Adragna and William A. ("Bill") Dodge.

For the original series, the specific ages of the investigators were never revealed, but contextual information indicates that they were likely 13 or 14 years old. They were not old enough to drive a car legally, but were said to be just a few years younger than their nemesis Skinny Norris, who had a driver's license from a state where the required age for a license was younger. On one occasion it was mentioned that Pete was part of the high-school wrestling team. In the later Crimebusters series, it was stated once that the Three Investigators team was initiated when the boys were 13.

The investigators were typically introduced to a mystery by a client or by finding something unusual accidentally in the scrapyard of Jupiter's Uncle Titus Jones and Aunt Mathilda, who had a salvage business. The boys encountered baffling, sometimes misleading clues and danger before finally solving the mystery. The series had one major theme: however strange, mystical, or even supernatural a particular phenomenon may seem at first, it is capable of being traced to human agency with the determined application of reason and logic. This theme was compromised on four occasions by Carey: in The Invisible Dog, she canonizes astral projection; in The Mystery of Monster Mountain, the boys encounter Bigfoot; in The Mystery of the Scar-Faced Beggar, a woman has genuine prophetic dreams; and in the final book of the original run, The Mystery of the Cranky Collector, a young woman's ghost returns to haunt her former employer's mansion.

Most mysteries were solved by Jupiter Jones, a supreme logician who implicitly used the Occam's Razor principle: that the simplest and most rational explanation should be preferred to an explanation which requires additional assumptions. The boys were able to solve their mysteries with relatively few resources: they generally had little more than a telephone, bicycles, access to a library and – with reference to the Hollywood setting of the series – a chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce (which Jupiter wins the use of in the first book).

In the first book, The Secret of Terror Castle, Jupiter bluffs his way into the office of director Alfred Hitchcock and makes a deal with him that if the Investigators can find him a haunted house to use as a location for his next movie, Hitchcock will introduce the story of their adventures. Hitchcock agrees, not expecting them to succeed; but at the end of the book is impressed with the boys' investigation and not only introduces the book, but also refers several other future clients to them in subsequent novels. The last chapter of each book was usually an epilogue in which the investigators sat with Alfred Hitchcock (and later, "Hector Sebastian"), reviewing the mystery and revealing the deductions through the clues discussed earlier in the book.

In 1989, Random House revamped the series, naming it The 3 Investigators — Crimebusters Series. The investigators were now 17 years old, could drive cars and were much more independent. The stories continued to include an abundance of detecting, but with the addition of more action. The series was well-received, but was halted during 1990, when legal disagreements between Random House and the heirs of the Arthur estate could not be resolved. By 2005, the disagreements were still not settled.

At least eleven novels were published in the CrimeBusters series, which was initiated by one of the series' authors, William Arden, pseudonym of Dennis Lynds, who wrote the Dan Fortune mystery series for adults by the pseudonym Michael Collins. The other authors were: H. William Stine and wife Megan Stine, G.H. Stone (Gayle Lynds), William MacCay, Marc Brandel and Peter Lerangis.

Random House has reprinted several of the original books as two paperback reprint series, partly to assure their legal rights.

International publishing


The Three Investigators has also been published in Bangladesh by Sheba Prokashoni as Tin Goyenda (translated by Rakib Hasan) since the 1980s and appealed to many young Bangladeshi readers until the late 1990s. In the Bengali editions, Jupiter Jones is known as Kishor Pasha (a Bangladeshi American). The other two are named as Musa Aman (African American) and Robin Milford (Irish American). Other characters include Gina and her pet dog Rafian, the chauffeur Hanson, Bavarian brothers Boris and Rover, and movie director Davis Christopher (in place of Alfred Hitchcock). The character "Skinny Norris" appears as "Shutki Terry" and the famous French thief appears as "Shopa". The character Victor Simon in the Bangladeshi edition appears in the place of "Hector Sebastian". The stories are generally set in Rocky Beach, California, although the investigators travel to exotic places like Africa and Bangladesh on occasions. Nearly 125 books have been published by now.


In France, the original nine books were published during the 1970s by the Bibliothèque Verte collection of books for young readers under the title "Les Trois Jeunes Détectives" ("The Three young detectives").. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the series continued. As a whole, 37 volumes (including four of the Crimebusters series) has been published.


The Three Investigators books have always been very popular in Germany. They are known there as Die drei ??? (Die drei Fragezeichen, meaning "The Three Question Marks"). Jupiter Jones was renamed as "Justus Jonas", a German adaption of his original name, while Pete Crenshaw is named "Peter Shaw". Bob Andrews retained his original name. The chauffeur's name is Morton.

While the American authors' novels in the series have been published there, German writers have added more, contributing about six new novels per year, with the count being 179 books during 2014. Taped radio dramas (Hörspiele) of the novels have been especially popular in Germany with most of them having been certified Gold or Platinum by the German Federal Association of Music Industry. In total, the radio dramas have sold more than 45 million copies and the books about 16 million copies in Germany (2013).[1] A study conducted in 2009 by the series' publisher Europa suggests that nowadays, most fans are between 20 and 45 years of age.[2]

The radio actors, who have been narrating the plays since 1979, toured the country multiple times to perform plays in front of a live-audience. They broke their own Guinness World Record when performing Phonophobia – Symphony of Fear in front of 20,000 people at Berlin Waldbühne during 2014.[3]

In the booklet of the German audio play The Mystery of the Invisible Dog, the episode upon which it was based is credited erroneously to Nick West. Moreover, in Germany there are different revised editions of The Mystery of the Scar-faced Beggar: one using Alfred Hitchcock as their patron, one using Alfred Hitchcock and Hector Sebastian, and another one using only Hector Sebastian (in Germany renamed as "Albert Hitfield").

New English-language Three Investigators titles were released during 2005 for the first time since 1990. The German 'American-English' series included the release of Poisoned E-Mail and The Curse of the Cell Phone. As of May 2008, a total of seven German stories had been translated and published in this format, and an eighth title was planned for publication during October 2008.


The Three Investigators books have been published in India, in addition to the original American versions, by the name of "Bal Secret Agent 555 Ranga, Ganga & Shirazi". Ranga is Pete, Ganga is Jupe and Shirazi is Bob. These were published by Khel Khiladi Prakashan, West Patel Nagar, Delhi during the 1970s.


The Three Investigators books have been published in Indonesia under the name of Trio Detektif. These were published by Gramedia Pustaka Utama (the biggest book publisher in Indonesia), Jakarta from the 1980s to 1990.


In Italy, the Three Investigators novels have been published in paperback form by Mondadori, during the 1970s and 1980s, within their Il giallo dei ragazzi series, which included the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew and other juvenile sleuths' adventures. The cover author for the Three Investigators books was always Alfred Hitchcock, whereas the inner copyright notice correctly reported the real author (although saying "Text by ..."). No other publications of the novels are known.


The Three Investigators books have been published in Lithuania and were popular among teenagers.


The Three Investigators have been published in Pakistan, in Urdu, as Teen nanhay suraghrasaan since the 1980s by the "Ferozesons" publications. They have also been published in the monthly Taleem-o Tarbiat magazine for children. The names of the characters are "Umber" (Jupiter Jones), "Naseem" (Pete) and "Aaqib" (Bob). The name of their Mercedes Benz driver is Allahdad. They live in Karimabad. Umber is tall and lanky as opposed to Jupiter's character, who is stocky. Naseem, like Pete, is the most athletic of all. The translators are Saleem Ahmed Siddiqui and Maqbool Jahangir. They have done a good job adapting the stories to match Pakistani culture and geography.


Sixty-one original stories (including Crimebusters) have been published in Poland (by Siedmiorog), where they were recently still very popular.


In Portugal, the Three Investigators novels started to be published in hard cover edition by Clássica Editora, within Os melhores livros juvenis series, which included other juvenile adventures by authors such as Erich Kästner, Enid Blyton and E.W. Hildick.

The first book published was The Secret of Terror Castle in the 1970s (second edition in 1978). The cover author for the Three Investigators books was always Alfred Hitchcock. In the first editions the inner copyright notice correctly reported the real author (although saying "written in cooperation with...").


The books have also been very popular among children and teenagers in Slovakia under the name of 'Traja pátrači' where the books were published by Mladé Letá. 74 books have been translated, but not in order of original release.

Southeast Asia

In the French, Vietnamese, Thai, Indonesian and Italian version of the series, the books were at one time published with Alfred Hitchcock listed as their author. The same error was made in some German paperback editions published at the beginning of the 1980s.

Similarly, all British Armada paperback editions of the title The Mystery of the Moaning Cave are credited erroneously to Robert Arthur. Moreover, the British series reversed the order of #42 and #43, meaning that the Armada original series ends with Wreckers' Rock.


In Spain, The Mystery of the Moaning Cave, The Mystery of the Laughing Shadow, The Secret of the Crooked Cat, The Mystery of the Coughing Dragon, The Mystery of Monster Mountain as well as The Mystery of the Headless Horse are erroneously credited to Robert Arthur. The new Latin-American edition has the name of Los tres detectives instead of Los Tres Investigadores, which was used in Spain for earlier editions. Catalan translations were also published.

Series background


The Three Investigators

Jupiter "Jupe" Jones, First Investigator — A former child actor named "Baby Fatso", although he hates it when people mention this. Jupiter is intelligent and stocky, and has a remarkable memory and deductive skills. Jupiter's parents (professional ballroom dancers) died in a car crash when he was four years old, so now he lives with Uncle Titus Jones and Aunt Mathilda, who manage a salvage business.

Jupiter's past acting ability benefits him frequently in mysteries because he can act older than he is, perform imitations of people when necessary and act less intelligent to extract information from potential suspects.

Jupiter is a prolific reader and inventor and frequently invents a device that simplifies solving a mystery. Jupiter has a knack for usually thinking about clues correctly to solve an otherwise unsolvable mystery. He also likes to play pranks on the other two investigators. Because of his intellectual side, Jupe is adept at using big words and frequently uses them to his advantage, particularly to seem older, annoy Pete, and startle adults. Jupe hates to dismiss an unsolved mystery, which frequently means that he drags Bob and Pete along for the ride.

Peter "Pete" Crenshaw, Second Investigator — Pete is an athletic youth who dislikes dangerous situations, but is nonetheless reliable as the "action member" of the team. Pete loves and cares for animals, and is fond of uttering the exclamation "Gleeps!" His father is a special effects man in Hollywood.

Pete is a frequent companion of Jupiter on stake-outs and other field trips, particularly in the earlier mysteries, when Bob is unavailable. While he may not have the intellectual ability of Jupiter, Pete is nonetheless considered as an equal in the stories and is able to point out Jupiter's own shortcomings (usually in a comical fashion). He is also capable of making deductions and sometimes serves as the clue-bearer instead of Bob. He has an excellent sense of direction, as in The Mystery of the Stuttering Parrot.

Robert "Bob" Andrews, Records and Research — Bob is studious and meticulous, and wears glasses. His father is a newspaper man and occasionally gives Bob helpful hints.

Early in the series, Bob is hampered physically by a leg brace he wore, due to multiple fractures inflicted when he rolled down a hill. This handicap relegated him to a more studious and less physical involvement. Bob works part-time in the local library, suiting his role as data collector. Bob also serves as the clue-bearer for many of the adventures, because of his research at the library. Bob's leg brace is removed between the end of Whispering Mummy and the beginning of Green Ghost.


The office of the Three Investigators is a house trailer, hidden among the piles of scrap in the salvage yard. It has many secret entrances. The headquarters has a small lab, a darkroom and an office with desk, typewriter, telephone, tape recorder, and reference books.

The books

The American series of The Three Investigators

There were 43 published books in the original series, and one The Mystery of the Ghost Train that was never finished. There are four books in the Find Your Fate books that feature The Three Investigators. Random House created the Three Investigators Crimebusters series between 1989 and 1990.

German editions of the Three Investigators

In 1964 the Random House publishing company and the Kosmos publishing company started to publish the translated 43 original books. In 1979 the German publisher Europa started a radio drama based on those original 43 books. In 1993 Kosmos started to publish new written books by German authors which were and still are continued as radio dramas in Germany. All in all, this would result in a canon of 190 books (6 books per year, 3 during spring and 3 during autumn) and 183 radio dramas published as of September 2016. Because of a litigation between Europa and Kosmos which disallowed the use of the names Europa used, they published a 9 episode radio drama named DiE Dr3i between 2006 and 2007. DiE Dr3i were mostly identical to Die Drei ??? and they also used the same German voice-actors, but they had to change the names of the characters to the original English names. DiE Dr3i were stopped when the litigation ended and Die drei ??? started again.

The movies

During 2007, a Three Investigators movie, The Three Investigators and the Secret of Skeleton Island, was released in Austria, featuring Chancellor Miller as Jupiter, Nick Price as Pete, and Cameron Monaghan as Bob. It was followed during 2009 by The Three Investigators and the Secret of Terror Castle.[4] Although adopting the same titles as two of the novels, and some of the characters, the stories in the films are significantly different to those in the books on which they are based.

As German schoolbook

The German demand for the adventures of The Three Investigators has produced another offshoot. Ulrich Krauße translated The Curse of the Dragon into Latin with three German Latin teachers working as the publisher's readers. During 2011, Krauße's translation, De Tribus Investigatoribus et Fato Draconis,[5] became a bestseller among Latin students.[6]

Further reading


  1. Umsatzbringer "Die drei Fragezeichen" : Da sieht Lady Gaga alt aus. Spiegel Online, 30 November 2013
  2. Lauter große Kinder. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 30 October 2009
  3. Die "Drei ???" stellen in Berliner Waldbühne Weltrekord auf. Berliner Morgenpost, August 10, 2014
  4. "The Secret of Terror Castle at the Internet Movie Database",
  5. Ulrich Krauße: Die drei ??? – De Tribus Investigatoribus et Fato Draconis, Editio Latina, 9,95 Euro, 182 S., ISBN 978-3-9813892-0-3. EAN 9783981389203.
  6. Ruhrnachrichten, Jan 3rd, 2011 (German) retrieved Jan 15th, 2013

External links

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/26/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.