When I was about 9, I got a book for Christmas entitled “The Three Investigators and the Secret of Terror Castle”. I’d never heard of The Three Investigators, but the combination of the word investigator and the lure of a ‘terror castle’ piqued my interest.
It turned out the book was superb and I was excited to discover that there were around 40 Three Investigators books.
The only problem was that the Three Investigators were (and still are) pretty unknown in the UK and the books were not readily available in high street shops. Undeterred, I dragged my parents to various second-hand book shops in an often futile quest for another one of the canon. After many months, I eventually put together the full series, albeit with some pretty ragged and dirty copies. But what do you expect for 20p a book!?
The Three Investigators were a teenage detective agency based in a coastal town near Los Angeles. The Three Investigators were unlike many of their children’s crime fiction contemporaries, such as the Famous Five, the Hardy Boys etc. For a start, they actually did detective work! They looked for clues, solved puzzles and interviewed suspects. The stories were often very text heavy and analytical. They’d track down stolen money, find kidnapped people, debunk paranormal activity and sometimes even catch a murderer. Chases and fights occurred sparingly, and the ‘baddie’ was often tricky to guess.
They also didn’t look the part. They were led by the ridiculously named Jupiter Jones, who was an overweight unpopular kid with dead parents who lived in a junkyard with his aunt and uncle. One of the other investigators was a thin, bespeckled, ginger kid with a limp. They were outsiders. Not the ‘usual suspects’ when it came to kids detective fiction.
In summary it was exactly what the nine-year old me wanted to read.
One of the regular occurrences in the books was that they’d give potential clients their business card. Aside from the usual business card info, the card included three question marks. The client would also ask what the question marks stood for. The answer was a pretty banal, “mysteries unsolved, riddles unanswered, puzzles of any kind.” But in truth it served as a kind of brand awareness exercise. A way of creating something that people will remember, or even talk about.
And that’s a very convoluted way of explaining that there are 3 reasons why the little icon at the top of this page is a question mark.
It’s firstly and most tritely an homage to my favourite books when I was a child. More importantly, it also serves as an apt symbol for the blog and my current situation.
I’m continually asking myself questions at the minute. When I can a diagnosis and what will it involve? What specifically have I got? What will the future look like? What can I do to improve my health and wellbeing? There are huge elements of life at the minute that are a question mark, and that only serves to increase my stress levels and anxiety.
Thirdly, it symbolises the questions that anyone reading this may have. How are you autistic? What makes you different? How would I know that you’re autistic?
Hopefully, like The Three Investigators, the further I go into this blog the more answers we get and the less question marks. I’m also hoping to find some buried treasure and thwart some dangerous bank robbers!
NB – The Three Investigators books are now a lot easier to get hold of, largely thanks to Amazon and ebay. You can even get them in ebook form. Like many characters from their era, they have been reimagined as cooler kids in continuation books. There are also a couple of really shite movies that you really don’t want to watch. But if you’ve got kids, or have an interest in kids detective fiction then I highly recommend the original series.
They were also friends with Alfred Hitchcock, but that’s for another day.