Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon
C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: Vincent Buranelli in 1976. The first of three in a row he wrote, among others.
Was It Revised?: No.
Cover: Rudy Nappi. A symbolic cover, drab grey and brown. There’s Stonehenge, and there’s the mysterious bearded dude, and there’s a key all right. Blah. It’s ugly.
Setting: England and Ireland. Not the kind of story that will make their tourist boards happy.
Where’s Fenton This Time?: Back in the States after sending them off into horrible danger. He does not show up.
Which Chums Show Up?: Just Chet and Phil. And they only show up by accident, in a way. No, this one is Frank and Joe’s story.
What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: Hard to say. He and Phil go on a cycling tour of Europe, so I guess cycling is the hobby. But Chet also mentions wanting to take Manx cats back home to Bayport. Wait, what? Maybe that’s the hobby. I dunno, feels like a comment that was stuck in to check off the “Hobby” box.
Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: She only appears on the phone to tut tut about danger. No pie today, boys. Better get yourself a Cornish pasty instead.
Plot: Fenton asks them to fly to England to help a professor friend with whatever he needs. Yup, that’s it, no idea what’s in store, just go help a friend. Then witches. That’s about it for the plot.
Review: My sons went to England and just brought me back a curse. Or something. Look, remember the Scooby Doo rule that there is never going to be any real supernatural stuff in the Hardy Boys. They just pretend before realizing it was just Mr. Hopper wearing a mask, and he would have gotten away with it if it hadn’t been for you kids — sorry, let’s move on…
At one point we get this description:
“A pitch-black raven perched on the topmost pinnacle. As they watched, it emitted a loud, hoarse croak and flew off in the direction of the churchyard, which was visible in the distance.
The rising wind shook the top of the Witch Museum. Rain lashed the tiles outside. A bolt of light night cut through the sky. Thunder boomed overhead.”
Oh brother, that’s laying it on thick! You get the point, the authors aways try to make you think a woman is walking on water or rising from the dead, but it ain’t the case.
That said, this is the closest they ever get to the supernatural. In this case, they really do deal with witches. Wiccan beliefs are discussed, though they are never called Wiccan. Curses are issued. Rituals are followed. If this stuff freaks you out, skip this book.
But in the end, of course, it’s a simple case of robbery. Hey, it’s the Hardy Boys. But because of the overt nature of the witch plot, this is an atypical book. It’s the Hardy Boys telling ghost stories around a campfire.
Not my favorite.