Tag Archives: Andrew E. Svenson

28: THE SIGN OF THE CROOKED ARROW

 

28

Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon

C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: Andrew E. Svenson in 1949.  His first since revising 23: The Melted Coins (which I gave an 8) and before that 7: The Secret of the Caves (which only got a 5).  Mr. Svenson will end up writing several of the later volumes.

Was It Revised?: Yes, in 1970 by Priscilla Baker-Carr, who will be revising most of the rest as we go along.

Cover: Rudy Nappi.  Yellow and red are back!  A bit abstract, not actually an event from the book, but thematically accurate.  Mid-level Nappi.

Setting: Bayport and then New Mexico.  Unlike Hunting for Hidden Gold, written originally in 1928, and very much reflecting the Old West in spirit, this one is very much a product of mid-century Americana.  In the late-40s and early-50s, the U.S. went Western mad, so this is very much a Frank-and-Joe-go-West story.  But unlike the Old West setting in Hidden Gold, this is more dude ranch western living.  

Where’s Fenton This Time?: He gets his sorry self shot by an arrow and spends lots of time in the hospital and then recuperating in bed.  In fact, this is why Frank and Joe have to fill in when his sister needs help on her New Mexico ranch.  Don’t worry, he wouldn’t miss his Chapter XX appearance, typically by air.

Which Chums Show Up?: Chet, of course.  Iola appears briefly.

What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: Judo.  Yup, gets used.

Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: After three desserts in the last one, Gertrude had to rest a bit. Don’t worry, the boys get good western cooking.  Chet even eats too much to go riding.  What, like that surprises you?

Plot: Some crooks who knock people out and rob them decide to take their stuff made in New Mexico and travel to, oh, lemme think, what would be a good place to be swindlers?  How about Bayport, all the way across the country, and thick with crack detectives?  Yeah, that’s the idea.  And then they are forced to try to prevent Frank and Joe from going to New Mexico. Hint to crooks: If you hadn’t been stupid enough to set up shop in Bayport, Frank and Joe wouldn’t have a clue you exist!  Anyway, their aunt in New Mexico needs help because her ranch hands start going missing.  Yes, it’s all tightly connected.  And hint to readers: if you ever get invited to ride in a plane with the Hardy Boys, decline with extreme prejudice.  Guaranteed your plane will be tampered with and require an emergency landing.  The FAA should ban these books.

Review:  Not bad, not great.  Amazing coincidence as usual, a bit tiring with all the cliched western speech, amazing how Frank and Joe are expert at everything that the ranch hands spend their living at, but the mystery is interesting, and it keeps you guessing.  And hey, if a kid learns a bit about modern cowboy life, why not?  But remember how I keep drawing parallels with Scooby Doo?  Check out this line from the book: “I would’ve gotten the car, too, if it hadn’t been for you Hardys.”  I’m telling you, the Hardy Boys got there first…

Score: 7

23: THE MELTED COINS

23

 

Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon

C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: Leslie McFarlane in 1944.

Was It Revised?: Yes, in 1970 by Andrew E. Svenson, one of two he revised, and the second since book 7, The Secret of the Caves.  But Mr. Svenson starts to write his own books soon, but his originals were written about twenty years earlier and were then rewritten by others about the time Mr. Svenson was revising this book.  Confused yet?  Imagine how Mrs. Svenson must have felt when Andy explained it to her.

Cover: Rudy Nappi.  Red and green, somewhat abstract, with Joe holding the secret contents of the briefcase from Pulp Fiction.  And a big, crooked mask looming over them that as a kid I found very helpful in picturing what they were talking about in the book.  A nice, bold cover.

Setting: Upstate New York.  You do know that Bayport is in New York for real, right? Well, they travel to various places upstate, including Niagara Falls.

Where’s Fenton This Time?: Stage left.  He’s off on a different angle of the same case, and then at the end he literally solves Frank and Joe’s case for them while staying offstage until the very end.  Very odd to have it happen that way, making for a bit of an anti-climax climax as the boys wait around waiting to hear if dear old dad wraps up their case for them.

Which Chums Show Up?: Chet, with Biff and Tony making the most deus ex machina entrance of all time and then disappearing again to go fishing.  I’m not kidding.

What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: Eating corn soup, evidently.

Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: None, but she makes a brief appearance to make a salami and cream cheese sandwich for Chet.  Why that kind?  It’s needed later as a clue, so it had to be a weird sandwich that would stand out.

Plot: A Native American mask goes missing, the boys try to find it, while immersing themselves in the community.

Review:  It’s not bad overall.  In fact, despite the unfortunate use of “redskins” (and by a Native American character at that!) that can be chalked up to the ignorance of its time, this book tries hard to be fair to them.  They get nuanced characters, prejudice on both sides is shown to be pointless and harmful, and respect is shown to the culture.  As for the mystery, it’s limited, but interesting, and the bad guys are not the typical ones.  It’s a fun book.

Score: 8

7: THE SECRET OF THE CAVES

7

Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon

C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: Leslie McFarlane in 1929

Was It Revised?: Yes, in 1964 by Andrew E. Svenson

Cover: Rudy Nappi, yellow and red yet again, but this time green is prominent and the background is daytime with the beach.  As always the boys are watching something, this time the hermit by the caves.  Not bad.

Setting: In Bayport some of the time, but south along the Atlantic coast for the cave story, and north for a brief time at a university.

Where’s Fenton This Time?: He sticks around Bayport while the boys travel.  Fenton is supposed to protect a transmitting tower above Bayport.  Fenton, you had one job!

Which Chums Show Up?: Chet, Tony, Biff, Iola, Callie.  For once Iola and Callie get to do some detective work!  But they don’t get to do much, and frankly are stereotypically female in the writing, unfortunately.  They deserve better.

What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: Metal detecting.  Boy does it come in handy!

Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: No pie for you!  Gertrude merely shows up toward the end for a spinning wheel minor subplot.

Plot: A young woman wants to find her brother who has disappeared from university.  Investigating this, the boys stumble onto a smuggling operation.

Review: I dunno, this one seems odd to me even though it’s like all the others in several ways.  Frank and Joe investigate something, someone tries to hurt them, they investigate, they get attacked, they reach the end of the story and do something heroically suicidal in order to figure out the mystery, they get captured, heeeeeeer’s Fenton, the end.  Just didn’t flow.  Mr. Svenson only rewrote this one and the Melted Coins, so maybe I’m just noticing the different tone of the writing.

Score: 5