Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon
C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: Harriet S. Adams in 1964. In 1946 Ms. Adams wrote 25: THE SECRET PANEL, which got revised in 1969. Then in 1959 she revised the first two Hardy Boys books. Five years later she wrote this one. I thought The Secret Panel was a great book. What do I think of this one?
Was It Revised?: No.
Cover: Rudy Nappi. Reddish-brown as the dominant color, and Frank and Joe doing some investigating. True to the book, not my favorite color selection.
Setting: Bayport and then Mexico. In the early days it was all Bayport, all the time, that bastion of criminal nefariousness. But in recent books it seems to be Frank and Joe Do [Insert colorful location]. We had Alaska, and the Northwest Territories in Canada, and the desert southwest, and now Mexico. Man, Bayport must be crawling with pickpockets by this time.
Where’s Fenton This Time?: On the phone getting updates from the boys down Mexico way.
Which Chums Show Up?: Chet. Señor Morton does a good job.
What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: Nothing. Seems to be in a bit of a hobby slump.
Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: “Famous strawberry shortcake topped with a sea of whipped cream.” She had me at “famous.”
Plot: This is a humdinger of a plot. A wealthy man dies but names the Hardys in his will, stating they must solve a mystery before any relatives get paid. The mystery is to find “the Aztec Warrior.” That’s it. Go ahead, you figure out how you’re going to solve that one.
Review: The boys soon head down to Mexico to find that Aztec culture with nothing more than the idea that a ceremonial weapon is involved in the mystery and a couple of names of people. Imagine showing up in Times Square in New York City and asking people if they know a “Tom Smith.” Think you’d get far? Nope. But the Hardys are nothing if not persistent, and eventually they get some leads.
Plus kids are introduced to a somewhat out-of-date look at Mexico tourism. You do get a flavor of life south of the border that would make the Mexican Culture Minister proud. If nothing else, you’ll want some enchiladas by the time this book is done. Fortunately Aunt Gertrude has some strawberry shortcake to finish the meal.
Look, this is not a typical mystery. This one is about finding a man, whoever he might be. And yes, you’ll never guess who or what the “Aztec warrior” turns out to be. It’s a fun ride.