Tag Archives: flight

51: THE MASKED MONKEY

 

51

Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon

C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: Vincent Buranelli in 1972.  Besides his revisions, he wrote several original Hardy Boys books in the 1970s.

Was It Revised?: No.

Cover: Rudy Nappi.  Two green covers in a row!  This is a symbolic cover that nicely captures the book.  The boys really do go into the jungle, there really is a menacing chimp, it’s a good cover thematically and esthetically.  Boy were we spoiled by Mr. Nappi’s great skill in book after book.

Setting: Bayport, nearby, Brazil, nearby, Bayport again.  Yes, I snuck Brazil in the middle there.  So did the author.

Where’s Fenton This Time?: Sets the boys on the case, then stays home while they jet off to Brazil, and finally shows up in Chapter XX as usual.

Which Chums Show Up?: Tony, Chet and Phil.  The gang is half here, but this time the gang stays home while Frank and Joe go to Brazil alone.

What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: Scavenging golf balls from golf course water traps.  Does part of the story take place in country clubs, you ask?  Sparky, you are too clever for this game!

Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: No dessert here.  She merely clucks about danger and then clucks no more in this story.

Plot: A missing person, someone is creating false passports, a frenzied chimp taught to steal stuff and attack people, this is an odd little plot.

Review:  Not bad.  The Brazil section is nice as an introduction to the land, but out of date now.  But when you read the book and realize the significance of the Brazil section when you are done with it, you’ll have a laugh as to why it was included.  Hey, it’s an excuse to fly them off to Brazil, what more do we need?

The crooks are devious, ubiqitious and deadly.  The showdown is satisfying.  The explanation of the masked monkey makes sense.  The Brazilian voodoo display is put on by a faker, thus keep alive the Scooby Dooish aspect of the Hardy Boys, and check this quote out:

“Putting his fingers under the chin part of the last mask, he wrenched it off.  Everyone gasped in amazement!”

And he would have gotten away with it too if it weren’t for you kids!

Score: 8

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)

46: THE SECRET AGENT ON FLIGHT 101

 

46

Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon

C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: Tom Mulvey in 1967.  That same year he also revised 10: WHAT HAPPENED AT MIDNIGHT, as well as 13: THE MARK ON THE DOOR.  Two years earlier, in 1965, he revised 9: THE GREAT AIRPORT MYSTERY.  Then in 1968 he would revise 15: THE SINISTER SIGNPOST, and in 1969 he revised 18: THE TWISTED CLAW.  This Secret Agent on Flight 101 book is his only original.

His previous five books, coincidentally, got scores (not in order) of 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.  Can he get a 10?  A 4?

Was It Revised?: No.

Cover: Rudy Nappi.  Blue and green action scene, Frank and Joe chasing a bad guy.  Good look, nice action, a bit monochromatic, but not bad.

Setting: Bayport, off the coast of New England, London England and finally Scotland.  Yes, that does describe a journey and a direction, doesn’t it?  This is Frank and Joe do the UK.

Where’s Fenton This Time?: They found a unique way to get Fenton off the stage: put him on a stage in a magic show, make him disappear, then make sure he stays disappeared.  Ah, but who is the secret agent on Flight 101?  Heh heh.

Which Chums Show Up?: Biff and Chet.  Mostly Chet.  When even higher ups in major spy organizations are suggesting the boys bring Chet along, you know you are in Chet Morton fantasy land.

What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: Magic.  Does it apply to the bad guy?  Of course.  Does Chet’s hobby save their lives at the end?  Of course.  Will Chet ever use this hobby ever again?  Of course not.

Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: “Dessert.”  Just “dessert.”  Bad form, Mr. Mulvey.  You described her pies and cakes before, you know.

Plot: Magician offers to make Fenton disappear.  He does.  Now the boys have to find him.  Then they get involved with a spy organization (SKOOL) to fight the bad guys who are involved in a bad guy organization (UGLI).  The chase takes them to Scotland.

Review:  SKOOL and UGLI?  Really?  I realize it’s 1967, and James Bond and SPECTRE are a very big deal in the world, but this is just dated and bad.  I realize the Hardy Boys books are written for kids, and so as adults we see the holes in the plot or the simplistic writing.  But I’m telling you that some of these books stand up to adult scrutiny to some extent.  But when you do juvenile writing about spy organizations called SKOOL and UGLI, it’s embarrassing.

And really, the professional spies suggest they go to Scotland, and then they wait around for the Hardys to suggest the next plan of action, and then say, ‘good idea!’  I’m sorry, that’s just not realistic.  The professionals would be calling the shots, would not suggest they bring their chum, Chet, along.

No, they never refer to those spy organizations after this book, and that’s good.  Frank and Joe are supposed to be amateurs doing independent work.  I realize some of the later Hardy Boys books do involve Frank and Joe in a spy organization, but I’m talking about the original 58 books only.

And I must point this out from the fourth paragraph of the book:

“It was Friday evening.  Bayport High had closed for summer vacation the day before.”

Got that?  The boys have been solving mystery after mystery, this being #46 in the sequence, almost all of which take place during the summer between their junior and senior years of high school.  Yet #46 takes place the day after school ended for the summer.  I guess most of the other 45 adventures took place the day before…

Now if this sounds as if I don’t like this book, don’t get that impression.  I’m picking on aspects of it, but the mystery is good, the bad guys are rotten, the scenery is fun.  Frank actually climbs outside of a moving airplane to get something, so we truly are in James Bond territory, but I enjoyed it.  But it’s not the best of the bunch.

Score: 7

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

43: THE MYSTERY OF THE AZTEC WARRIOR

43

 

Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon

C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: Harriet S. Adams in 1964.  In 1946 Ms. Adams wrote 25: THE SECRET PANEL, which got revised in 1969.  Then in 1959 she revised the first two Hardy Boys books.  Five years later she wrote this one.  I thought The Secret Panel was a great book.  What do I think of this one?

Was It Revised?: No.

Cover: Rudy Nappi.  Reddish-brown as the dominant color, and Frank and Joe doing some investigating.  True to the book, not my favorite color selection.

Setting: Bayport and then Mexico.  In the early days it was all Bayport, all the time, that bastion of criminal nefariousness.  But in recent books it seems to be Frank and Joe Do [Insert colorful location].  We had Alaska, and the Northwest Territories in Canada, and the desert southwest, and now Mexico.  Man, Bayport must be crawling with pickpockets by this time.    

Where’s Fenton This Time?: On the phone getting updates from the boys down Mexico way.

Which Chums Show Up?: Chet.  Señor Morton does a good job.

What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: Nothing.  Seems to be in a bit of a hobby slump.

Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: “Famous strawberry shortcake topped with a sea of whipped cream.”  She had me at “famous.”

Plot: This is a humdinger of a plot.  A wealthy man dies but names the Hardys in his will, stating they must solve a mystery before any relatives get paid.  The mystery is to find “the Aztec Warrior.”  That’s it.  Go ahead, you figure out how you’re going to solve that one.

Review:  The boys soon head down to Mexico to find that Aztec culture with nothing more than the idea that a ceremonial weapon is involved in the mystery and a couple of names of people.  Imagine showing up in Times Square in New York City and asking people if they know a “Tom Smith.”  Think you’d get far?  Nope.  But the Hardys are nothing if not persistent, and eventually they get some leads.

Plus kids are introduced to a somewhat out-of-date look at Mexico tourism. You do get a flavor of life south of the border that would make the Mexican Culture Minister proud.  If nothing else, you’ll want some enchiladas by the time this book is done.  Fortunately Aunt Gertrude has some strawberry shortcake to finish the meal.

Look, this is not a typical mystery.  This one is about finding a man, whoever he might be.  And yes, you’ll never guess who or what the “Aztec warrior” turns out to be.  It’s a fun ride.

Score: 8