Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon
C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: Leslie McFarlane in 1943. After five in a row of John Button, and five I was not especially fond of, the master is back with only two more to his name yet to come.
Was It Revised?: Yes, in 1971 by Vincent Buranelli, the second revision he did along with his later originals. I didn’t care for his other revision, The Mystery of the Flying Express, giving that one a very low 4 score. Will Mr. Buranelli do better with a McFarlane?
Cover: Rudy Nappi. Is there red and yellow? A little, but this is green on purple and oh, so 70s I could just ease on down the road with a funky song in my heart. This is like a James Bond poster if they wanted to imply Sean Connery was really hitting the good stuff this time. Very dated, but the use of color is striking, and it certainly symbolizes the plot.
Setting: Bayport, and nearby.
Where’s Fenton This Time?: Working another angle on the case with Sam Radley, but he shows up and helps out here and there. Mostly in the series recently he’s been there to say, no, he can’t do that dangerous step, but sure, the boys can, just be careful, OK? What does he think an 18- and 17-year-old will say to that question?
Which Chums Show Up?: Chet, Callie and Iola, Biff and Tony, Phil, the whole band, and yes, I mean band. Just like in 1971 Josie and the Pussycats were a band, and the Archies were a band, now the Hardy Boys are a band. This is not as egregious as it could be because there are other books where the boys are into playing music, but man, this Bayport band formed quickly. I’m just sayin’.
What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: Building airplanes. Say what?! I mean, c’mon, play fair with the reader, willya? We get it. This is a plot about airplane parts, so you needed Chet to build an airplane. But he never showed interest in flying before, and he doesn’t remain interested afterward. I call shenanigans.
Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: No dessert for you!
Plot: A plane crashes upon approach to an airport, there is a plant with a tower that flickers flames, there is a nightclub called The Flickering Torch, basically this plot is whatever they needed it to be. This book is known for its radical change from original version to this revised version. Mr. Buranelli wanted to show the boys being cool, so it’s folk rock to the rescue. Uh huh…
Review: Has its moments, but this one is dated from its too-70s cover to the type of music they play to the way the audience reacts to the music to the ridiculous lengths the bad guys go to foil the Hardy Boys. And where was Jack Wayne in a story all about flying? But I give it an extra point for the end fate of Frank who is drugged and planned to be pushed out a plane into the ocean. Way to show hostility toward the characters, Mr. Author!