Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon
C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: Andrew E. Svenson in 1949. His first since revising 23: The Melted Coins (which I gave an 8) and before that 7: The Secret of the Caves (which only got a 5). Mr. Svenson will end up writing several of the later volumes.
Was It Revised?: Yes, in 1970 by Priscilla Baker-Carr, who will be revising most of the rest as we go along.
Cover: Rudy Nappi. Yellow and red are back! A bit abstract, not actually an event from the book, but thematically accurate. Mid-level Nappi.
Setting: Bayport and then New Mexico. Unlike Hunting for Hidden Gold, written originally in 1928, and very much reflecting the Old West in spirit, this one is very much a product of mid-century Americana. In the late-40s and early-50s, the U.S. went Western mad, so this is very much a Frank-and-Joe-go-West story. But unlike the Old West setting in Hidden Gold, this is more dude ranch western living.
Where’s Fenton This Time?: He gets his sorry self shot by an arrow and spends lots of time in the hospital and then recuperating in bed. In fact, this is why Frank and Joe have to fill in when his sister needs help on her New Mexico ranch. Don’t worry, he wouldn’t miss his Chapter XX appearance, typically by air.
Which Chums Show Up?: Chet, of course. Iola appears briefly.
What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: Judo. Yup, gets used.
Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: After three desserts in the last one, Gertrude had to rest a bit. Don’t worry, the boys get good western cooking. Chet even eats too much to go riding. What, like that surprises you?
Plot: Some crooks who knock people out and rob them decide to take their stuff made in New Mexico and travel to, oh, lemme think, what would be a good place to be swindlers? How about Bayport, all the way across the country, and thick with crack detectives? Yeah, that’s the idea. And then they are forced to try to prevent Frank and Joe from going to New Mexico. Hint to crooks: If you hadn’t been stupid enough to set up shop in Bayport, Frank and Joe wouldn’t have a clue you exist! Anyway, their aunt in New Mexico needs help because her ranch hands start going missing. Yes, it’s all tightly connected. And hint to readers: if you ever get invited to ride in a plane with the Hardy Boys, decline with extreme prejudice. Guaranteed your plane will be tampered with and require an emergency landing. The FAA should ban these books.
Review: Not bad, not great. Amazing coincidence as usual, a bit tiring with all the cliched western speech, amazing how Frank and Joe are expert at everything that the ranch hands spend their living at, but the mystery is interesting, and it keeps you guessing. And hey, if a kid learns a bit about modern cowboy life, why not? But remember how I keep drawing parallels with Scooby Doo? Check out this line from the book: “I would’ve gotten the car, too, if it hadn’t been for you Hardys.” I’m telling you, the Hardy Boys got there first…