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Ken Holt #14 The Mystery of the Invisible Enemy Hardcover – 1959


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Amazon.com: 2.0 out of 5 stars 1 review
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Miss Hill 15 Sept. 2015
By Proud Hardy Hater - Published on Amazon.com
"Pretty, yellow-haired" Miss Hill is receptionist, switchboard operator at the Brentwood Foundry and Casting Company. Ken Holt and his ox in build (and brains) pal Sandy Allen, reporters for local newspaper The Advance, cover company Halloween party where she wins a prize, runner up behind department heads as The Seven Drawfs (should have been Snow White). Afterwards the company president tells Ken of an extortion threat from someone inside the company, asks for his help. (Legitimate to help, amount demanded would bankrupt company, throw people out of work, ripple effect hurt town's economy. Frank and Joe Hardy in While the Clock Ticked got bound and gagged TWICE, risked their lives just for banker from another town of no concern for theirs needing a "secret room" to do "figuring," then disappeared whole
day on "emergency business" not telling anyone where he was going --- makes one wonder just who in the end who the REAL crook was.)

On the pretext of doing anniversary story on the company, Ken and Sandy investigate, chat with Miss Hill ("How exciting! What a lot of publicity we're getting around here! I'm glad I wore my new suit today.") take her picture for the paper (what would you choose to illustrate
story about A FOUNDRY with?). When next day they return, she tearfully tells them an employee has been injured in fall--accident? Later
she says, "I think my picture looks simply wonderful! Really I'm so grateful. I'm going to buy at least a dozen copies of today's Advance to send to all my aunts and cousins."

SHE DISAPPEARS FROM STORY, Page 103, had four in all, with 80 MORE to go. That night, determining the threat was a bluff
intending to advise not to pay, Ken and Sandy are knocked out in the dark. Coming to, they find themselves in their GREATEST peril---
bound hand and foot, gagged, in the factory fanhouse, to helplessly wait grimly for morning when the fan is to be turned on emitting
dangerous fumes "no human being would be able to survive"!

Miss Hill would be an INsignificant character ANYwhere else.

BUT here she IS important,---just FOR being here.

SHE IS THE ONE, THE ONLY, SINGLE, SOLITARY, GIRL IN THE 18 VOLUME KEN HOLT SERIES (1949-1963)!

Ken Holt's was a strange---as in S - T - R - A - N - G - E--- world where the female population, such as it WAS, was middle-aged, "gray-
haired." Mystery of the Invisible Enemyis OVER-RUN with them--Mom Allen, Ken's surrogate Mother, fixing him and Sandy breakfast "under
Mom's worried eyes" after they were rescued; "gray-haired" Mabel Clewes, society editor at the paper, who dragged Ken and Sandy to cover
the party, later "in gray today, fromthe tip of the gray feather on her hat to the toe of her gray shoes"-- makes one SHUDDER at the thought--
offers to help, politely, mercifully for reader's eyes, put off; "gray-haired" Gloria Harris, secretary of company president, at the meeting where
Ken bluffs the extortionist into revealing himself, she grabbed by him at gunpoint for hostage, Ken and Sandy overpower. (One HAS to
suspect "yellow- haired" Miss Hill, just was here to provide RELIEF, frankly there was no REAL reason for her otherwise, and BAD for it
under the circumstances.) "She was tied up" referred TO A BOAT (Mystery of the Galloping Horse), "I can take beauty" A MOUNTAIN
(Riddle of the Stone Elephant), "At least she was not blown up" A TRUCK ON FIRE NOT GIRL TIED UP WITH TIME-BOMB (Clue of the Phantom Car). Critical character "Grace" in Mystery of the Iron Box was JOHN D. Grace. When Ken went on sea voyages there was NEVER shipboard romance-- the females he encountered were middle-aged, the pretty girls presumably thrown off at the dock told "Too bad, KEN
HOLT is aboard." The MOST important female of series, ONLY one to be bound and gagged, was "plumb, middle-aged" (NEEDED TO BE SAID?) English governess Miss Alice, kidnapped with her young charge, seven year-old (NEEDED TO BE SAID?) boy, for ransom in Mystery of the Grinning Tiger.

At LEAST it could be said for Ken he did NOT frustrate, torment, the reader dangling a pretty girlfriend to be Last-in-the-Cast for a few
pointless paragraphs or pages; in boy series of time the girlfriend was sadly regarded as only a nuisance, irrelevance, inconvenience, bare
necessity, ONLY good for a date, wave good-bye, stalling the plot until she exited FOR GOOD. One would have been especially useless for
Ken as most of his cases took him out of town or abroad, been little opportunity for her to even say good-bye, wish luck as he was usually
starting already on the way or at the location, certainly Ken wouldn't have had time fleeing Brentwood ahead of The Syndicate in Mystery oF
the Galloping Horse. Even the party here was a company affair, not something Ken could properly have taken her to.

MOST importantly he did NOT have one to be embarrassed around later about, when, as he frequently was (also debut Secret of Skeleton Island, Mystery of the Iron Box, Secret of Hangman's Inn), in THE most humiliating possible situation for The Hero, been BOUND AND
GAGGED. Tom Swift's girl Phyllis dropped by to leave "a gift of fruit and nuts"while he was resting in bed at home after he was kidnapped
and rescued, then he took her to lunch the next day--bet she wanted to hear ALL about it (Tom Swift and the Electronic Hydrolung, though
he did later rescue HER tied up in spies' hands, Tom Swift and the Asteroid Pirates, OUTDID Ken in the hero department, saving
a "plump ,middle-aged" English governess JUST doesn't QUITE compare to rescuing a beautiful 17-year-old girl, sorry, Ken. And Ned
Nickerson was a greater hero, accomplished more than Ken did in all his cases combined, the time he broke down the attic door to save
Nancy Drew, bound and gagged with a poisonous spider, Secret of the Old Attic.)

Frank and Joe Hardy took Callie and Iola on utterly pointless-to-plot sleigh ride, painfully embarrassing contrast for them and reader how while they had been bound, gagged, FREEZING, the girls were SO cozy, warm, at home (Yellow Feather Mystery, see my review with
alternate scene who SHOULD been one bound and gagged in the cabin).

Even WORSE, the girls sat beside the Hardys at a banquet, just SKIN-CRAWLING reminder how the night before the boys had been TIED to chairs ("rubbed their skin raw, the bonds were cruelly tight"), gagged, for about SEVEN HOURS to 3:00 AM knowing "only a miracle
could save them now!" from being blown up, THEIR Invisible Enemy scene of GREATEST peril---and ALL the while the girls were just miles
away safe, and snug, in bed (While the Clock Ticked); then the girls ACTUALLY LAUGHED AT, MOCKED THE HARDYS KNOWING IOLA'S
IDIOT BROTHER SAVED THEM! How series survived "Callie giggled" was a mystery to stump even Ken (see my review with alternate plot, NO mystery, NOT "Callie giggled"--- but CALLIE GAGGED,WITH THE TIME-BOMB!) From the round-about way he was talking Ken was
evidently embarrassed to say outright in front of even "gray- haired" Gloria Harris that he had been bound and gagged.

Miss Hill at least decently disappeared, forgotten, no fruit and nuts to remind Ken of a pretty girl being safe while he tied and helpless, no
lunch or sleigh ride to squirm through, mercifully NO "MISS HILL GIGGLED" to burn Ken's eardrums, or the reader's eyeballs, though still
would have BEEN best under these circumstances (why of ALL the ones to BE the one for THE GIRL!), , had she NOT appeared AT ALL.

Still, one HAS to ask---

COULDN'T Miss Alice been English-rose pretty au pair Ken's age?

COULDN'T there been unsuspecting girl employee in tobacco shop used as front for counterfeiting ring in Mystery of the Iron box, came back after work, walked in on them, landed bound and gagged with Ken and Sandy?

COULDN'T Ken's kidnapped Father in Secret of Skeleton Island had a pretty young intern, been one to alert Ken of his disappearance, gone on search with Ken, been bound and gagged with him and Sandy in the old house?

COULDN'T the missing janitor of The Advance in The Secret of Hangman's Inn had a pretty granddaughter to join Ken in the search, to be
tied up with them AND Sandy AND Sandy's Father AND Sandy's brother, or accompanied Pop Allen and Bert into the trap (FIVE guys tied
up, REALLY needed a girl there!)?

COULDN'T the youthful archaeologist in Mystery of the Galloping Horse have had a pretty younger sister for assistant to be tied up with
him at the conclusion (saving a room of tied up men does not make one A Hero, quite the way SAVING ONE GIRL DOES!)

COULDN'T the magician in The Mystery of the Vanishing Magician had a pretty assistant (except in Ken Holt's world THEY ALL DO!) one of the parties to the land dispute in Riddle of the Stone Elephant, and theframed bank employee in The Black Thumb Mystery had pretty daughters, there had been a pretty girl aboard the boat in Mystery of theShattered Glass and Mystery of the Sultan's Scimitar, to go on the
case with Ken?

Here COULDN'T the foundry owner have had a pretty daughter showing Ken around the factory (cover of the anniversary story, A-Pretty-
Girl-With-Machines-Picture) to keep story about threat as quiet as possible, been captured with him?

Or if not her then Miss Hill coming back for her copies of The Advance she forgot, or Gloria Harris been young and pretty, leaving work late. Maybe a new owner of The Advance (bought it as part of chain) could had a pretty Lois Lane wannabe daughter pestering him, he sends HER to cover party, she drags Ken and Sandy along, later wants in in on the extortion story, politely-as-possible put off by Ken, snoops
about on her own. Whichever one of these girls witnessed the attack, couldn't identify assailant in the dark, screamed, fainted, to share ALONE WITH KEN the centerpiece scene of PERIL!

Like bound-with-the-time-bomb in While the Clock Ticked, THE SCENE CRIED OUT FOR A GIRL TO BE IN IT!

Just leave that dullard Sandy OUT, he fell in that "accident"? snooping around on his own, be the one in the hospital in a coma (though, truth to tell, hardly notice he was, always that way even WHEN he was on his feet, just brawn behind Ken's brain). ANY of these girls--
foundry owner's daughter, Miss Hill, a young and pretty Gloria Harris, Lois Lane wannabe-pest-- would immeasurably raised have
raised stakes, drama, of scene (at 25 pages with two GUYS quickly went from tense to tedious, imagine how it'd get if filmed, frankly ridiculous they humming song titles at each other, would been LAUGHABLE). Then Ken stopping the fan blade bending it with bound feet,
sawing his bonds on bent blade, forcing open metal door with crowbar left around---if it snapped they WERE DOOMED--- all the while THE
GIRL watching a wide-eyed FACE OF FEAR, carrying her, whoever she was, bound and gagged from room as blade broke and fan started spinning, shouting to shut off the fan the fumes following behind them down the stairs would have made him A HERO, imagine THAT filmed--
-instead of just he and Sandy stopping blade until they were found and freed in the end mere self-preservation. Though left to "Bruce Campbell" (actually a husband-wife writing team) it would have been, ANY doubt, WHO else?--MABEL CLEWES! After all ANYone in Ken Holt's world KNOWS of course than she's worth more than ANY pretty girl could EVER hope to be--SHE'S "GRAY HAIRED"!
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