Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon
C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: Jerrold Mundis in 1968. This is the only Hardy Boys book that Mr. Mundis wrote, so this is all we have to judge him by.
Was It Revised?: No.
Cover: Rudy Nappi. Very muted colors (and isn’t it amazing how Mr. Nappi can do all these different styles?), though Frank and Joe get the yellow and red into the cover in a subtle way. Frank and Joe are being threatened by a tattooed man. Well, it’s sort of in the book that way. This is more symbolic than realistic.
Setting: Bayport, New York City, and Mystic, Connecticut.
Where’s Fenton This Time?: He is working on a separate case, but hey, waddya wanna bet it’s actually the same case the boys are working on? He shows up halfway through, works with his sons for a bit, then goes off on his own again. But he shows up at the end.
Which Chums Show Up?: Biff, Tony, Chet, Callie and Iola. Biff and Tony run their own business that intersects with what the Hardys are working on. Chet, of course, is the key chum and does a lot.
What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: Scrimshaw. You know the drill by now – never did this before, will never mention it again.
Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: Apple pie, and fresh baked cookies. Now we’re talkin’.
Plot: Traveling circus comes to Bayport, pickpockets are working the crowds, so the circus owner hires Frank, Joe and Chet to work undercover on the fairgrounds. Meanwhile, Fenton is trying to track down a jeweled idol sculpture, and the crooks are trying to find it too, and soon so are Frank and Joe. What’s with the whale tattoo? The gang are identified by having a whale tattoo on their fingers. Not so smart, guys.
Review: Not bad. The mystery of who is in the gang is a good one with several red herrings. The discovery of the stuffed whale is fun, and what Biff and Tony do with it is interesting. So the story moves along well.
There is a great scene where Chet discovers the best soda jerk in the business and draws a crowd by drinking ice cream soda after ice cream soda in ways that presage today’s competitive eaters. I love it when a Hardy Boys book takes the time for just fun. Chet is very much Chet in this book.
There is another scene where Chet fills in as the clown in the circus. He is a renaissance man, our Chet.
Mr. Mundis created a typical Hardy Boys book, and for a one-off author in the series, that’s all we can ask.
Score: 8 (7 for the book, plus a point for the ice cream scene)