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33: THE YELLOW FEATHER MYSTERY

33

 

Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon

C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: William Dogherty in 1953.  His one and only Hardy Boys book.

Was It Revised?: Yes, in 1971 by Pricilla Baker-Carr.

Cover: Rudy Nappi.   A burnt orange/yellow cover, with a mixture of symbolism (the feather) and realism (Frank and Joe looking at the cabin in a scene right from the book).  To be honest, this nearly monochromatic cover put me off when I first reread this book as an adult.  But as we shall see, I should not have judged a book by its cover.

Setting: Bayport and nearby.  They don’t travel too far afield here.  

Where’s Fenton This Time?: He is working on the same case, and shows up quite often.  The author even has some fun with Fenton’s appearances in a couple of cases.  When Frank tackles his father thinking he caught a crook, you know the author is winking at us.

Which Chums Show Up?: Chet, Biff, Tony, Callie, Iola.

What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: He built a catamaran on ice, as it were.  A fan-driven ice boat.  Yes, it comes in handy.  Chet is the third Hardy Boy in this book and he really steps up.  No cowardice in this one, he just does the job.  When the gang is all together and Frank and Joe realize they have to check a place of danger out, it’s only Chet they ask to come along.  The author must have really liked Chet.

Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: Nothing doing, check back later.

Plot: The headmaster of a boarding school dies, leaves behind a clue to where to find his will, and two people are after it.  Both of them ask the Hardys for help finding it.

Review:  Does that plot sound boring?  I assure you, this is pure Hardy Boys distilled to its essence:

  • Set in Bayport
  • All the chums show up
  • Chet has a hobby and is useful
  • The boys stubbornly stick to it despite threats to their lives
  • Inheritance is involved
  • A mysterious code
  • A mysterious enemy

It’s got everything you want in a Hardy Boys book. A bit dated, what with that mid-50s we-can-rehabiliate-a-juvenile-delinquent subplot — not to mention a character named Skinny — but the essence of the book is a well-told mystery with hidden rooms, hidden motives, a crook in plain sight (but which one is the crook?), good detective work, a deadly threat at the end, and lots of misdirection about the Yellow Feather.  I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the book despite not being wild about the cover.  And so I give this book…

Score: 10 (if you want to hand someone a Hardy Boys book to see if they like it, this is a good choice)