Tag Archives: airport

51: THE MASKED MONKEY

 

51

Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon

C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: Vincent Buranelli in 1972.  Besides his revisions, he wrote several original Hardy Boys books in the 1970s.

Was It Revised?: No.

Cover: Rudy Nappi.  Two green covers in a row!  This is a symbolic cover that nicely captures the book.  The boys really do go into the jungle, there really is a menacing chimp, it’s a good cover thematically and esthetically.  Boy were we spoiled by Mr. Nappi’s great skill in book after book.

Setting: Bayport, nearby, Brazil, nearby, Bayport again.  Yes, I snuck Brazil in the middle there.  So did the author.

Where’s Fenton This Time?: Sets the boys on the case, then stays home while they jet off to Brazil, and finally shows up in Chapter XX as usual.

Which Chums Show Up?: Tony, Chet and Phil.  The gang is half here, but this time the gang stays home while Frank and Joe go to Brazil alone.

What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: Scavenging golf balls from golf course water traps.  Does part of the story take place in country clubs, you ask?  Sparky, you are too clever for this game!

Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: No dessert here.  She merely clucks about danger and then clucks no more in this story.

Plot: A missing person, someone is creating false passports, a frenzied chimp taught to steal stuff and attack people, this is an odd little plot.

Review:  Not bad.  The Brazil section is nice as an introduction to the land, but out of date now.  But when you read the book and realize the significance of the Brazil section when you are done with it, you’ll have a laugh as to why it was included.  Hey, it’s an excuse to fly them off to Brazil, what more do we need?

The crooks are devious, ubiqitious and deadly.  The showdown is satisfying.  The explanation of the masked monkey makes sense.  The Brazilian voodoo display is put on by a faker, thus keep alive the Scooby Dooish aspect of the Hardy Boys, and check this quote out:

“Putting his fingers under the chin part of the last mask, he wrenched it off.  Everyone gasped in amazement!”

And he would have gotten away with it too if it weren’t for you kids!

Score: 8

49: THE BOMBAY BOOMERANG

49

 

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:

Score: 7

48: THE ARCTIC PATROL MYSTERY

 

48

Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon

C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: Andrew E. Svenson in 1969.  One of many he wrote, including my favorite.

Was It Revised?: No.

Cover: Rudy Nappi.  Yellow with the plane, red with the gloves and hats, white for the snow and bear; it’s a good-looking cover.  Not purely literal, and polar bears (who don’t live in Iceland, but it’s explained) don’t grow that big, so there’s symbolism there.  But Frank and Joe really do have a scene like this.

Setting: Bayport and Iceland.  Mostly Iceland.  As I write this post in mid-2014, people from 43 different countries have read this site, but Iceland is not among those 43 countries.  Let’s see if we can fix this with this review!

Where’s Fenton This Time?: On the big part of the case.  This being 1969, the space program was on everyone’s minds, so Fenton is working for the U.S. government to stop saboteurs from wrecking the space program.  Meanwhile Frank and Joe work on finding a guy in Iceland who is due to inherit some money.  Will both cases collide?  Heh, see you in Chapter XIX, dude.

Which Chums Show Up?: Biff, Tony, Chet, Callie and Iola.  Biff and Chet actually go to Iceland with the boys.  It pays to be friends with Frank and Joe for you get all-expense-paid trips all over the world.  Unless you are Callie and Iola, of course, who are almost always left behind pining for their boyfriends.

What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: Kiai!  He’s learning karate.  Yes, it gets used.  Once.  Now in other books he knows judo.  And football scrimmage moves.  But here’s it’s a chop with his hands.

Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: A “large wedge” of rhubarb pie.  Couldn’t you just go for that right about now?

Plot: As mentioned, off to Iceland to find someone they just know by name.  If it weren’t for those pesky bad guys continually trying to harm the boys, the plot would consist of them sightseeing around Iceland looking for a guy who could be anywhere.

Review:  You know, this is a great one.  It was amazingly topical in 1969 with the moon landing that year, but it holds up.  In fact, this feels like a wholly modern spy mystery that involves spies trying to stop a space program.  Astronauts are part of the story, the bad guys have realistic motives, and they play for keeps.

The Icelandic scenes are terrific.  This is a great introduction to Iceland for kids.  Guarantee they will want to visit someday.  Having been to that beautiful and fascinating island myself, I can say it is well worth a visit.  I look forward to returning.

So, good writing (I like my Svenson Hardy Boys), good plot, good local characters, good suspense, very modern feel, but classic Hardy Boys cast of characters and ways of acting, all combine to make this a fun book to read.

Score: 9

47: MYSTERY OF THE WHALE TATTOO

47

 

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)

46: THE SECRET AGENT ON FLIGHT 101

 

46

Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon

C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: Tom Mulvey in 1967.  That same year he also revised 10: WHAT HAPPENED AT MIDNIGHT, as well as 13: THE MARK ON THE DOOR.  Two years earlier, in 1965, he revised 9: THE GREAT AIRPORT MYSTERY.  Then in 1968 he would revise 15: THE SINISTER SIGNPOST, and in 1969 he revised 18: THE TWISTED CLAW.  This Secret Agent on Flight 101 book is his only original.

His previous five books, coincidentally, got scores (not in order) of 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.  Can he get a 10?  A 4?

Was It Revised?: No.

Cover: Rudy Nappi.  Blue and green action scene, Frank and Joe chasing a bad guy.  Good look, nice action, a bit monochromatic, but not bad.

Setting: Bayport, off the coast of New England, London England and finally Scotland.  Yes, that does describe a journey and a direction, doesn’t it?  This is Frank and Joe do the UK.

Where’s Fenton This Time?: They found a unique way to get Fenton off the stage: put him on a stage in a magic show, make him disappear, then make sure he stays disappeared.  Ah, but who is the secret agent on Flight 101?  Heh heh.

Which Chums Show Up?: Biff and Chet.  Mostly Chet.  When even higher ups in major spy organizations are suggesting the boys bring Chet along, you know you are in Chet Morton fantasy land.

What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: Magic.  Does it apply to the bad guy?  Of course.  Does Chet’s hobby save their lives at the end?  Of course.  Will Chet ever use this hobby ever again?  Of course not.

Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: “Dessert.”  Just “dessert.”  Bad form, Mr. Mulvey.  You described her pies and cakes before, you know.

Plot: Magician offers to make Fenton disappear.  He does.  Now the boys have to find him.  Then they get involved with a spy organization (SKOOL) to fight the bad guys who are involved in a bad guy organization (UGLI).  The chase takes them to Scotland.

Review:  SKOOL and UGLI?  Really?  I realize it’s 1967, and James Bond and SPECTRE are a very big deal in the world, but this is just dated and bad.  I realize the Hardy Boys books are written for kids, and so as adults we see the holes in the plot or the simplistic writing.  But I’m telling you that some of these books stand up to adult scrutiny to some extent.  But when you do juvenile writing about spy organizations called SKOOL and UGLI, it’s embarrassing.

And really, the professional spies suggest they go to Scotland, and then they wait around for the Hardys to suggest the next plan of action, and then say, ‘good idea!’  I’m sorry, that’s just not realistic.  The professionals would be calling the shots, would not suggest they bring their chum, Chet, along.

No, they never refer to those spy organizations after this book, and that’s good.  Frank and Joe are supposed to be amateurs doing independent work.  I realize some of the later Hardy Boys books do involve Frank and Joe in a spy organization, but I’m talking about the original 58 books only.

And I must point this out from the fourth paragraph of the book:

“It was Friday evening.  Bayport High had closed for summer vacation the day before.”

Got that?  The boys have been solving mystery after mystery, this being #46 in the sequence, almost all of which take place during the summer between their junior and senior years of high school.  Yet #46 takes place the day after school ended for the summer.  I guess most of the other 45 adventures took place the day before…

Now if this sounds as if I don’t like this book, don’t get that impression.  I’m picking on aspects of it, but the mystery is good, the bad guys are rotten, the scenery is fun.  Frank actually climbs outside of a moving airplane to get something, so we truly are in James Bond territory, but I enjoyed it.  But it’s not the best of the bunch.

Score: 7

35: THE CLUE IN THE EMBERS

 

35

Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon

C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: John Almquist in 1955.  The first of two in a row that Mr. Almquist wrote, the only ones he did.  The mid-50s seems to have been a transition time for Mr. Dixon to find his ghost writers…

Was It Revised?: Yes, in 1972 by Priscilla Baker-Carr.

Cover: Rudy Nappi.   Hate it.  So dark.  Very symbolic by throwing together elements in the book that don’t belong in the same scene.  That shrunken head?  Appears in a benign setting at the very beginning of the book and then disappears.  Yet here it is front and center as if the Hardy Boys are going to face down headhunters.  Nope.  Don’t like this one, Mr. Nappi.

Setting: Bayport and Guatemala.  

Where’s Fenton This Time?: Once again working on the same case, at times working with the boys, and at times he gets called urgently to Washington.  And then when the boys need him more than anyone, at an extremely serious climax danger situation, uh, he’s in Washington.  Sorry, boys, find someone else to do the job.  Bad, Fenton!

Which Chums Show Up?: Chet, Biff, Tony, Callie, Iola. And Maria Santos and Judy Rankin.  Who?  Exactly.  Nice try, Mr. Almquist, but no banana.

What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: None.  Oh, and he’s back to being a coward again, just as we like him.  Always nice to have ol’ Chet worry about horrible ways to die.

Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: She merely tut tuts about how dangerous things are, and the boys consciously lie to her as usual.  You don’t deserve pie when you do that.

Plot: Tony inherits some curios from a late relative’s shop in New York City.  At that exact moment a gang of crooks from Guatemala show up in Bayport and try desperate and dangerous things to get those curios.  What are they after?  Why are they willing to attempt murder for it?  Why does it always, always, always happen in Bayport?

Review:  Starts off hot, with a villain who is do unrelentingly desperate to get the goods that it’s amazing.  Chapters 1 and 2 are like having a rabid dog trying to get your hamburger — he does not quit no matter what.  It’s quite a start.  But then the mystery basically turns out to be, What Do They Want?, and once they figure that out, it’s the ol’ find the buried gold that the Hardy Boys can find instantly but the natives couldn’t find for centuries. Riiiight.

But hey, you get to visit Guatemala, and it does have this particularly nifty bit of detective work described:

“Joe shook out the contents of the envelope and selected one of the firmer tiny charred pieces. He clamped this in place on the microtome. Then, running a finely honed knife blade delicately through it, Joe cut off a section.
“What thickness?” he asked.
“About two thousandths of an inch,” Frank replied.
Working carefully, Joe cut other tissue-thin sections from several angles, letting them drop onto a glass slide. In a few moments Frank had prepared several photomicrographs of them, showing distinct wood grains.
“Now we’ll see what was burning in the sarcophagus,” Frank said as he prepared to project the first lantern slide.”

When you are a ten-year-old, this stuff is dynamite!  You feel like you are really learning stuff.

But on the whole, just a middling effort with some nice aspects and a depressing cover.

Score: 6

31: THE SECRET OF WILDCAT SWAMP

31

 

Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon

C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: William Halstead in 1952.  His one and only Hardy Boys book.

Was It Revised?: Yes, in 1969 by Pricilla Baker-Carr.

Cover: Rudy Nappi.    A bit of red and yellow, but mostly we are in the green period.  A little too much green for the subject, if you ask me (and if you are reading this site, you are asking me).  This is another literal episode cover, and it nicely confuses the reader into thinking this book will be about wildcats when it’s really about . . .

Setting: Bayport and the West.  This is another Hardy Boys Go West story, and this one not only has cowboys, it also has people running around on top of a moving train.  Just like Hollywood.  Hey, 1952 was Western central.   

Where’s Fenton This Time?: Back east until it’s time for his usual appearance, but it’s earlier than usual and he and the boys work together a lot more than is typical.

Which Chums Show Up?: Chet.  Yee-haw!

What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: None.  But, and this is really important, for the first time ever Chet remembers he had a hobby in the past.  He actually remembers his judo from 28: The Sign of the Crooked Arrow!  Well done, writers!

Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: None.  I’m starving.

Plot: A teacher in Bayport asks Frank and Joe to come out west to help him with an archaeological dig in Wildcat Swamp.  Which when they get there nobody knows it by that name.  And a bunch of crooks are, naturally, after that very spot for . . . something.

Review:  Decent, not a big fan of the Hardy Boys Western series.  It’s just adventures out west, not so much of the detective stuff.

Score: 6