Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon
C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: Vincent Buranelli in 1970. The same year he revised 20: MYSTERY OF THE FLYING EXPRESS, and one year before he would revise 22: THE FLICKERING TORCH MYSTERY. He then writes several original Hardy Boys books in the 1970s.
Was It Revised?: No.
Cover: Rudy Nappi. Red fans, this is your cover, the most red since 18: THE TWISTED CLAW. Bit of yellow in the upper right. A mix of symbolism (the boomerang) and realism (the dock scenes). Note how much older Frank and Joe look here compared to, say, 4: THE MISSING CHUMS or 8: THE MYSTERY OF CABIN ISLAND. Same artist, same rough era (4 was revised in 1962 and 8 in 1966), yet the boys look older. I have to think as we hit the 1970s, the publishers thought they should look like modern teenagers, not a 1950s concept of teenagers that belong on the Mickey Mouse Club. Anyway, this is a striking cover, but not a great favorite with me.
Setting: Bayport, Washington D.C. and Baltimore.
Where’s Fenton This Time?: Working with the boys, and in fact the boys help him out when he gets in trouble in Baltimore. As with our last book, Fenton is working with the U.S. government, and this time the boys go right to the Pentagon and get instructions from an Admiral. It helps that they dialed a wrong number and got the Pentagon. Man, I hate when that happens.
Which Chums Show Up?: Biff, Tony, Chet, Phil, Callie and Iola. The gang is all here, but this time it isn’t Chet who shows up to help. It’s Tony and Phil who get the call, go help, and then return home.
What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: Boomerangs. Yup, he’s so busy making and selling boomerangs, he doesn’t help Frank and Joe. But yes, his hobby gets used in Chapter XX, and then never mentioned again in any other Hardy Boys book.
Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: A “piece of [her] fresh-baked apple pie.” I can feel the warmth from here.
Plot: Shipments of mercury from overseas are being stolen, someone in the Pentagon gets attacked, there’s talk about a missile, clues are found on freighters from India, and what is the Bombay Boomerang anyway?
Review: This is a mature Hardy Boys mystery. The stakes a high (threats to the country, the military on the trail, the crooks professional and deadly), the boys are competent, the clues are realistic. It’s good.
This is another Indian adventure, so once again I greet my readers from India. In particular from Mumbai (how Bombay is now known). This book talks about how Bombay came into being and tells us about the worship of Krishna. As a youngster reading Hardy Boys books, you learn an amazing amount of information about the world. That’s a good thing.
This is, of course, the first Hardy Boys book I ever read, and clearly it hooked me. So on the whole I give it a: