The Mystery of the Pantomime Cat
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This is the 7th book in Enid Blyton’s mystery series, first published in 1949.

Mr Goon introduces P.C Pippin to the Find-Outers.  P.C Pippin will be taking over from Goon when he is on holiday.  The Find-Outers decide to play a joke on PC Pippin by making up a mystery for him to solve.  Fatty and Larry disguise themselves as ruffians and hide in the garden of an empty house at night.  They whisper loudly as Pippin goes by and then run off.  They leave behind some fake clue - a note saying ‘Behind Little Theatre.  Ten p.m. Friday’.  The Find-Outers then play their next stage in the fake mystery.  They leave cigarette ends, a handkerchief with the letter ‘Z’ sewn onto it, pencil shavings, a nail with a bit of navy blue cloth attached and a page from a train timetable.  A Dick Whittington pantomime is playing at the theatre.  When Fatty plants the ‘clues’ outside the theatre he sees Dick Whittington’s cat inside.

Pippin find the clues outside the theatre.  He then sees the theatre manager drugged and the safe door open – the theatre has been robbed.  Mr Goon returns from his holiday and starts work on the mystery and believes the pantomime cat is the robber.

PC Pippin saw the pantomime cat asleep at the theatre on the night of the robbery.  It was likely that the manager’s tea had a drug in it.  The tea was brought to him by the cat.  It seems an insider is the thief as they knew where the safe key was kept and that the manager likes tea in the evening.  Boysie says he did not take the manager the tea that night, but the manager says he did.

PC Pippin gives Fatty a list of the actors at the theatre.

Suspects – Actors in the Dick Whittington play.
Peter Watting, plays Dick’s master.   He was out walking with William Orr at the time.
William Orr, play the Captain of Dick’s ship.  He was out walking with Peter Watting.
Zoe Markham, plays Dick Whittington.  Was at her sister’s house at the time.
Boysie, plays the Pantomime Cat.  Child-like adult.
Lucy White, plays Dick Whittington’s sweetheart.  Was at an ill pensioner’s house that night.
Alec Grant, plays Dick’s mother.  Was giving a show that evening.
John James, plays the Black King.  Was at the cinema.

They five find-outers decide to interview the suspects under the ruse of getting their autographs.

Bets and Daisy buy a present for Zoe Markham’s niece.  They talk to Zoe’s sister, Mrs Thomas.  Zoe is also at the house.  She said she had an argument on the night of the robbery.  Goon thinks Boysie and Zoe committed the robbery due to the fake clue – the hankerchief with a Z on it.

Larry and Pip speak to the theatre manager.  The manager says Boysie did bring him the tea.  He thinks Boysie may have helped someone else carry out the crime.  The manager kept the safe key in a secret pocket in his wallet.  The cast knew that day’s taking were in the safe as the bank was shut.  Most of the cast have had a run-in with the manager.

Daisy and Larry visit Mary Adams, who can confirm that Lucy White visited her the whole evening of the robbery.  Fatty and Pip go to The Turret tea room where William Orr and Peter Watting ate that night.  A girl at the tea room says Peter Watting had tea with William Orr and then mended a broken wireless, which means both of them have an alibi.  Pip’s cook, Kitty was at the cinema on the night of the robbery and tells Fatty that the film broke down 4 times.  They find John James and have a picnic with him.  He confirms that the film broke down 4 times.  The local newspaper gave a review of Alec Grant’s one-man concert on the night of the theft.  The five find-outers have hit a dead end.

Goon pushes a false confession from Boysie, but the find-outers know he isn’t capable of the crime.  Then Bets and Fatty work out that someone else was wearing the pantomime cat’s skin.  The robber drugged Boysie,  wore then his cat skin.  As Boysie is small, only another small person could fit inside.  The smallest suspect is Alex Grant.

Larry has a relative who lives where Alec’s concert took place in Sheepridge.  His cousin, Julia and her mother went to the concert.  She got his autograph.   They go to Sheepridge.  They compare the autograph that Julia got from Alec with the one the find-outers got from him – they are entirely different!  Julia says that Alec has a twin sister who is the same size as him.  Julia said that Alec has a cough and cold on stage, but the find-outers know he didn’t have any sign of one a few days later.

The Five explain what they have found to PC Pippin.  Pippin calls Inspector Jenks to say he is with the children.  Alec is brought in for questioning.  He admits that he got his twin sister to impersonate him while he robbed the Theatre.
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