How old are Jupe, Pete, and Bob?
This question often crops up in the minds
of readers because the boys seem involved sometimes in
adult situations and are trusted by their parents to act
responsibly yet they're obviously not adults.
I believe a good case can be made for the boys being
between the ages of 15-17. I base this primarily on the
descriptions given in the early books regarding the boys'
interactions with Skinny Norris. Specifically, Robert
Arthur says that Skinny wants to be a leader of the kids
his own age (Skinny's frequent attempts to discredit Jupe,
Pete, and Bob indicate that Skinny is either their age or
possibly a year older). Secondly, Skinny has a driver's
license and is allowed to drive only because he is a
legal resident of another state, implying that he is not
quite old enough to obtain a license to drive in
California. Skinny also drives at night in "Terror
Castle" when he follows them on their initial visit
to the castle; so he has a full license from another
state (i.e., unrestricted).
Not being a resident of California, I am not qualified to
speak with authority on California's driving license
requirements (particularly the requirements in the 1960s).
However, I would suspect that because Skinny could drive
a vehicle at night in another state he would be at least
16 and maybe 17, based on current day driving
requirements in many states. If the Three Investigators
are the same age as Skinny (as I suspect Robert Arthur
meant to imply), then they would be about the same age or
could be as young as 15 if they are a year or so younger
than Skinny. Despite the drawings by Bill Dodge on the
recently released paperbacks from Random House, I would
not place them as being any younger than 15.