Tag Archives: Callie Shaw

58: THE STING OF THE SCORPION

 

58

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.

Score: 10

54: THE MYSTERIOUS CARAVAN

 

54

Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon

C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: Andrew E. Svenson in 1975.  The third of three in a row he wrote, among others.  And with that we say goodbye to Mr. Svenson.

Was It Revised?: No.

Cover: Rudy Nappi.  A symbolic cover, for no such scene occurs in the book.  In fact, this cover refers to an historical event, not something Frank and Joe are looking at in the present.  A very yellow cover, appropriate for the setting, but hardly my favorite look.  And what are Frank and Joe reacting to in a pose that indicates danger?  Camels?

Setting: Bayport, Jamaica, Morocco in Africa.  The boys really travel in this one!

Where’s Fenton This Time?: Back in the States working on another angle.  Until he shows up in Chapter XX.

Which Chums Show Up?: It’s a Svenson, so we get the whole gang:  Chet, Biff, Tony, Phil, Callie, Iola.  Tony and Phil and Biff and Chet go to Jamaica, but only Chet goes to Africa (along with their new Jamaican friend William).

What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: None.  Even Svenson is giving up now.

Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: An unnamed pie was baked for Chet, but the poor reader never learns what type it was.  C’mon, Chet, spill it!

Plot: The boys find an African mask washed up on the shores of Jamaica where they are on holiday.  Bad guys immediately try to get the mask from them.  Or kill them, if possible.  Meanwhile Fenton is investigating some stolen airplane tickets that are being resold illegally.  Meanwhile the mask seems to hold the key to an ancient African treasure.  You know, a typical Hardy Boys plot.

Review:  Nothing wrong with this one.  Mr. Svenson tries to educate his readers about other parts of the Earth, and it would be fun to discover a bit of Africa and of Jamaica as a ten-year-old.  The actual plot about masks, maps and gold is classic Hardy Boys.

On the other hand, it felt a bit disjointed, as if he was trying to put all the elements of a Hardy Boys story in a big bowl, but just didn’t mix them enough.  It has a bit of by-the-numbers feel to it.

Not my favorite Svenson, but he remains an excellent writer for the series.

Score: 7

50: DANGER ON VAMPIRE TRAIL

50

 

Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon

C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: Andrew E. Svenson in 1971.  One of many he wrote, including my favorite.

Was It Revised?: No.

Cover: Rudy Nappi.  Green green green!  Plus vampire bats.  Frank and Joe look older than in the early days, so this is clearly the new house style for the boys.  This is a striking symbolic cover, very distinctive for all you lovers of the color green.

Setting: Bayport and heading West.  Seriously, this is basically one long road trip.  The Hardy Boys Go Camping.

Where’s Fenton This Time?: He shows up in the first chapter, hands them this case, and then disappears other than to get occasional phone reports from the boys.  No Chapter XX entrance for him this time.  

Which Chums Show Up?: Biff, Tony, Phil, Chet, Callie and Iola.  Biff and Chet actually go camping with the boys.  Just like the last Svenson Hardy Boys book, he likes Biff and Chet but no one else.  The others get mentioned as if on contract to be part of each book, then get dropped.  If I ever wrote a classic Hardy Boys book I’d have Phil Cohen, Callie and Iola go around the world with Frank and Joe, with each of them doing something brave and smart.  Biff, Chet and Tony can cool their heels back home for a change.  Naaaah, who am I kidding?  Chet has to come too.

What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: Not much of anything, really.

Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: No direct scene, but a reference is made to her “fluffy meringue on top of her famous lemon pies.”  I wonder how far her fame went?

Plot: In 1971 credit cards were not all that common, and so this plot is about crooks using bad credit cards.  Oh, there’s a side plot about sapphires, but it’s not that important.  In fact, the credit card stuff is what merely gets the story going, but the book itself is about Frank and Joe camping and the trouble that happens along the way.  What about vampires?  Forget it, kid.  Not happening.

Review:  Considering it’s a Svenson Hardy Boys, it’s surprising how atypical this one is.  It’s a camping tale.  Not particularly interesting or memorable.

Score: 6

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)

45: THE MYSTERY OF THE SPIRAL BRIDGE

45

 

Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon

C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: Andrew E. Svenson in 1966.  Two years before he revised 7: THE SECRET OF THE CAVES.  Four years later he revised 23: THE MELTED COINS.  I was a fan of #23, not so much #7, but I chalked that up to these being revisions.

From 1949 to 1951 he wrote three originals in 28: THE SIGN OF THE CROOKED ARROW, 29: THE SECRET OF THE LOST TUNNEL, and 30: THE WAILING SIREN MYSTERY.  Those got two 7s and a 6.

Finally, we will encounter Svenson originals in #48, #50, #52, #53 and #54.  Basically, Mr. Svenson is one of the giants of the Hardy Boys writing business, involved in the process off and on from 1949 to 1975.  What score will this one get?

Was It Revised?: No.

Cover: Rudy Nappi.  If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know what I think of this cover for this forms the logo of this site.  That’s right, this is — by far — my favorite Hardy Boys cover.  The classic elements are in pace with Frank and Joe peering at danger.  Joe has his red shirt, the yellow is in the title, and it’s a night scene which remain my favorite.  But what makes this cover soar is the red, orange, yellow shading of Rosy.  It’s absolutely beautiful.  An outstanding cover.

Setting: Bayport, New York City, and then Kentucky.     

Where’s Fenton This Time?: In the hospital.  The entire time.

Which Chums Show Up?: Everybody.  Chet, Biff, Tony, Phil, Callie and Iola.  The gang’s all here (I consider Jerry to be a bench part of the gang, not in the starting lineup), and almost all of them take important parts in the plot.

What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: Shot put.  Yes, so that it can come in handy at the end.

Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: Nothing.  The only thing that keeps this book from being perfect is the lack of a chocolate cake from Aunt Gertrude.

Plot: Fenton Hardy is investigating sabotage on a road building project in Kentucky when he is captured by some crooks, tortured, and winds up unconscious in the hospital.  It’s up to the boys to go down to Kentucky and stop the sabotage and figure out why the crooks want to stop the road being built.  And what’s with that spiral shape?

Review:  Perfection (minus a chocolate cake, although given the seriousness of the story, it’s understandable why Svenson didn’t include such a scene).

Let us count the ways this is the perfect Hardy Boys book:

There is real emotion from real characterization.

“Laura Hardy wept softly as her husband was carried toward the ambulance, and Aunt Gertrude tried hard to hold back her own tears.”

How could you not feel something for poor Laura? The inciting incident is real and powerful.

There is time later in the book for the boys to have an actual scene of pure fun when the gang heads down to a recreation room to play pool and ping-pong.  I always like it when they hang out and do fun things as a group.

Current culture is referenced when Tony jokes about Chet being secret agent 008.  In 1966, James Bond was as big as he ever got in the popular culture, and this book acknowledges that.

The mystery is hard to figure out.  You want to keep reading to understand what is going on.

No Fenton rescuing them in this one; this is the boys rescuing Fenton, so to speak.  They act very grown-up in this one.

It’s interesting, the characters are all here, the mystery is solid, and if for nothing else but the cover, this one finally gets a second:

Score: 10