Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon
C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: Leslie McFarlane in 1944.
Was It Revised?: Yes, in 1970 by Andrew E. Svenson, one of two he revised, and the second since book 7, The Secret of the Caves. But Mr. Svenson starts to write his own books soon, but his originals were written about twenty years earlier and were then rewritten by others about the time Mr. Svenson was revising this book. Confused yet? Imagine how Mrs. Svenson must have felt when Andy explained it to her.
Cover: Rudy Nappi. Red and green, somewhat abstract, with Joe holding the secret contents of the briefcase from Pulp Fiction. And a big, crooked mask looming over them that as a kid I found very helpful in picturing what they were talking about in the book. A nice, bold cover.
Setting: Upstate New York. You do know that Bayport is in New York for real, right? Well, they travel to various places upstate, including Niagara Falls.
Where’s Fenton This Time?: Stage left. He’s off on a different angle of the same case, and then at the end he literally solves Frank and Joe’s case for them while staying offstage until the very end. Very odd to have it happen that way, making for a bit of an anti-climax climax as the boys wait around waiting to hear if dear old dad wraps up their case for them.
Which Chums Show Up?: Chet, with Biff and Tony making the most deus ex machina entrance of all time and then disappearing again to go fishing. I’m not kidding.
What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: Eating corn soup, evidently.
Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: None, but she makes a brief appearance to make a salami and cream cheese sandwich for Chet. Why that kind? It’s needed later as a clue, so it had to be a weird sandwich that would stand out.
Plot: A Native American mask goes missing, the boys try to find it, while immersing themselves in the community.
Review: It’s not bad overall. In fact, despite the unfortunate use of “redskins” (and by a Native American character at that!) that can be chalked up to the ignorance of its time, this book tries hard to be fair to them. They get nuanced characters, prejudice on both sides is shown to be pointless and harmful, and respect is shown to the culture. As for the mystery, it’s limited, but interesting, and the bad guys are not the typical ones. It’s a fun book.