Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon
C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: James D. Lawrence in 1979. Twenty years prior to this he wrote 37: THE GHOST AT SKELETON ROCK, 38: MYSTERY AT DEVIL’S PAW and 39: THE MYSTERY OF THE CHINESE JUNK (the first two of which were revised). Plus he revised three other books in the 1960s. Mr. Lawrence is an old hand at writing Hardy Boys books, and boy does it show here!
Was It Revised?: No.
Cover: Rudy Nappi. A bit too dark, but it’s an interesting symbolic cover with so much green. There’s the elephant, and an elephant appears several times in the story, and there’s the sign of Scorpio, but no, the Zodiac does not play a part in the story other than the name of the gang. And for a final time, there are Frank and Joe facing danger while wearing yellow and red. Keep on fighting, old friends, keep ever fighting.
Setting: Bayport, New York City briefly, and then gloriously back to Bayport for the entire story. If you are going to end a series, do it at home.
Where’s Fenton This Time?: He’s around, and pops in when needed, and yes, he comes riding in at the end. Whenever life throws you a curve, look for Fenton to show up in the final chapter to help out. That’s sort of comforting, huh?
Which Chums Show Up?: Everybody! Even Karen Hunt, Biff’s date. Who? Exactly! This is a Bayport story, and every chum takes part. Even Chet doesn’t hog it all this time.
What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: Acrobatics, for a show. But it hardly takes up a lot of the plot, so it’s simply in there because Chet needs a hobby.
Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: Juicy wedges of apple pie! And a chocolate cake! Thank you Mr. Lawrence for including them both.
Plot: Someone’s trying to run off the owner of a wild animal park in Bayport. Meanwhile dirigibles are all over the place as the next big means of transportation, and someone drops an elephant from one of the blimps and then it explodes before it hits the ground. No really, but I promise you it gets explained in chapter one.
Review: As we say goodbye to the Hardy Boys, I cannot believe how much of a relief it was to read this book as the final one. Mr. Lawrence includes everything a good Hardy Boys book should have:
- Aunt Gertrude making dessert(s)
- Chet with a hobby
- The action takes place in Bayport
- The boys are not super spies working for the government, but typical teens hanging out with friends while solving a mystery.
- Continuity! Biff has his Great Dane, Tivoli! The Chinese junk they used to own gets mentioned!
- The gang gets to have fun, so it’s not just grim action all the time. At one point they are enjoying the park with their friends, and they get to do just that, for hours.
I love this book. It’s as if they knew this would be the last of the classics, so they wanted to create a best-of Hardy Boys book that covered all of the bases.
The mystery is simple but good. The bad guy hides in plain sight. And the book — and thus the series — ends with this quote from Chet and no future mystery teased:
“Speaking of which — how about a sky-high malt, fellows?”
Sounds good, Chet.
This is how I want to leave the Hardy Boys. Forever fighting crime in Bayport, having fun with friends, being normal teens, with a buddy who just wants to get a malt. You could hardly end it any better.