Tag Archives: california

40: MYSTERY OF THE DESERT GIANT

40

 

Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon

C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: James Beuchler in 1961.  One of two originals in a row he would write, but we’ve seen Mr. Beuchler’s work before in 11: WHILE THE CLOCK TICKED and in 14: THE HIDDEN HARBOR MYSTERY, both of which he revised in the same years as he was writing his two originals.  I gave #11 a rating of 8 and #14 a rating of 6.  Hmm..do I smell a 7 coming on here?

Was It Revised?: No.

Cover: Rudy Nappi.  Couldn’t be more classic.  Frank is wearing red, Joe is wearing yellow, they are staring at a bad guy caught in the act, this scene comes right out of the book in the way the covers often give the ending away, and it’s at night.  My only quibble?  The giant depicted is far too small.  In the book it’s geographically accurate, but I guess Mr. Nappi had to compromise or else we’d have no idea what we’re looking at.

Setting: Bayport, the California desert and Mexico.  

Where’s Fenton This Time?: He shows up, and is one of the gang this time.

Which Chums Show Up?: Chet.

What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: Infrared photography.  Yes, it gets used in the book.  No, he never knows anything about it ever again.  Chet is really all over the place in the series.  For example, at one point in this book Chet says, “You know I can’t cook worth anything.  Eating is what I’m good at.”  Ahem, in several earlier books Chet is noted as being a great cook.  In fact, he gets jobs doing that as part of their cases.    Sloppy work there, Mr.  Beuchler…

Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: None.  At one point the boys revive a conked Chet by telling him Aunt Gertrude made a chocolate cake.  But she didn’t.  Now that’s just cruel!

Plot: This is a missing person’s story.  Someone goes missing, the boys go out west to find him.  There is a gang doing some criminal stuff that the missing person got caught up in.  That’s about it.

Review:  This is another Hardy Boys Go West story, but I give Mr. Beuchler credit for adding more realism to the characters.  When they finally find the missing person, he doesn’t want to be found, and he has valid psychological reasons for thinking this.

I pointed out how intense 11: WHILE THE CLOCK TICKED is, with perhaps the most dire ending situation of any Hardy Boys book.  Well, he likes writing interesting psychological personalities, and I give him credit.

I also like that the crime in this story is not the usual jewel thieves or the like, but a more realistic type of crime.  We are getting into modern behavior now.

And I have to quote the final words of this book (no major spoilers) simply because it perfectly encapsulates why these books are loved:

“Living with you for these past few days has taught me that there are still plenty of wonderful people in the world.  I promise you, if I ever get sour on life again, all I’ll need to keep up my spirits will be to remind myself of Frank and Joe Hardy and Chet Morton — three swell fellows.”

I think we can all say Amen to that.

Score: 7

21: THE CLUE OF THE BROKEN BLADE

 

21

Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon

C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: John Button in 1942, the fifth of his five books in a row.  Mr. Button is now done with the Hardy Boys.

Was It Revised?: Yes, in 1969 by Richard Deming, the only one he did.  Mr. Deming, this is your book.

Cover: Rudy Nappi.  Is there red and yellow?  Not really.  We seem to be going into the abstract period now, and this one is blue, blue, blue.  Frank and Joe fence, someone stares at them behind a mask, and a broken blade reminds us of the title.  It’s OK, well made.  I’m not as big a fan of the abstract ones.

Setting: Bayport, and California, this is Frank and Joe go to Hollywood, sorta, which is nothing like Frankie Goes to Hollywood.  Just sayin’.

Where’s Fenton This Time?: Oh, he goes on vacation with the missus until they both show up in the most unlikeliest of places.  Fans of Laura Hardy — this is your book.  She actually gets to help.  Briefly.  Then the Hardy Boys syndicate shuts her down real quick and we get back to normal.

Which Chums Show Up?: Chet (honorary Hardy Boy at this stage), Callie and Iola, Biff and Tony.  Only Chet gets the big part, and no, I’m not making fun of his weight, which is more than I can say for Frank and Joe for whom no occasion is so solemn as to prevent them from making fun of Chet’s weight.  Way to show empathy, boys…

What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: Fencing, as is also the hobby of Frank and Joe and Biff and Tony, not one of whom ever fences again, but they are expert enough in this book to get hired on the spot as fencers and trusted enough to run a fencing school by themselves.  Mr. Deming, we figured out your interest in life, and you crammed it into the plot.  Still, if you have a kid who likes the idea of fencing, this is his book!  But don’t turn your back on that kid…

Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: “Pieces” of rhubarb pie, three of them for Chet.  Aunt Gertrude never made fun of Chet…

Plot: An inheritance inscribed on a blade, but the blade has been missing for decades.  Wanna bet the boys find it by chapter XX?  Hey, Frank and Joe, we never found Jimmy Hoffa, wanna take a crack at it?  Anyway, the clues lead to Hollywood, an odd screenwriter, a movie being made, and enough crooks running around to baffle anyone trying to make sense why this case is that important.  Mostly everyone fences.  Yeah, we get it, Mr. Deming, fencing is cool, or something.

Review:  Eh.  I’m a little tired of the boys getting on a case involving, say, broccoli, and then suddenly every crook in town is suddenly into broccoli, and willing to kill to keep you from discovering they like broccoli.  Hey, I think I smell a new Hardy Boy mystery: The Clue of the Overcooked Broccoli.

Score: 5