Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon
C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: John Button in 1941, the fourth of his five books in a row.
Cover: Back to Rudy Nappi. Is there red and yellow? Well, lots of red all right, but the only yellow is Joe’s hair. This is the first of the abstract covers. We have Frank and Joe in the foreground, the Flying Express in the background, a zodiac chart over the boat, and abstract red everywhere.
Setting: Bayport, and Providence, a long ferry ride away to the south.
Where’s Fenton This Time?: Up to his usual business, elsewhere most of the time, calling on Sam Radley to go back and forth as needed. He shows up now and then.
Which Chums Show Up?: Chet, Callie and Iola.
What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: Horoscopes, as if the cover didn’t give it away. Sorry, this hobby annoyed me. We have no indication he has this interest before this book, and it’s completely dropped after this book. This isn’t like picking up archaeology or oil painting. You can believe someone might dabble with that for a while and then quit. But astrology is a mindset. Chet is so incredibly into this mindset in this book, it’s jarring that it gets dropped. This is bad writing. Forcing a character to take on something that makes no sense for him to take on. Oh well, as Frank says in the book, “The solar system isn’t all that concerned about our doings here at Cape Cutlass. Saturn is millions of miles away. I doubt that it’s going to interfere with our little airplane.” Amen, Frank.
Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: “Big slices of rhubarb-and-strawberry pie.” Yum!
Plot: Makes no sense. The owner of the hydrofoil Flying Express wants to set up a ferry service between Bayport and Providence. Competing businesses don’t want him to. Attempted murder attempts follow repeatedly. Wait, what?! They can’t just offer a better ferry service, they have to try to KILL PEOPLE? What nonsense.
Review: Horoscopes everywhere, a plot that makes no sense, Joe says “groovy” at one point (holy ’60s, Batman!), I’m sorry this one is not for me. At one point Chet takes an old dress (long story) and simply tosses it into the ocean! I’m sorry, but in 1970 there was enough of an environmental awareness that this strikes me as a clunker of a move. Hey, Chet, why are you polluting the ocean when there are garbage cans right over there? Meh, this is my least favorite Hardy Boys book.