Tag Archives: Gold

56: THE JUNGLE PYRAMID

 

56

Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon

C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: Vincent Buranelli in 1977.  The second of three in a row he wrote, among others.

Was It Revised?: No.

Cover: Rudy Nappi.  A beautifully detailed realistic cover representing one scene in the book.  Frank and Joe heading directly into danger.  Nice look, modern, stark.

Setting: Bayport, Switzerland, Mexico and back to Bayport.  

Where’s Fenton This Time?: Oh, he shows up after sending them to Switzerland and then Mexico.  This is a family affair in this book.

Which Chums Show Up?: Chet, Biff and Tony.  What’s up, Mr. Buranelli, don’t you like Callie and Iola?

What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: He gets a diploma from a mail-order certifying that he is adept in gold artifacts.  Hey, lots of gold artifacts to be identified in this story, whaddya know?

Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: Cherry pie with homemade whipped cream.

Plot: Some gold is stolen from a mint, the assistant director of the mint hires Fenton to find it, and Fenton brings in the boys.  Where’s the gold? Hey, maybe Switzerland.  Oh, maybe Mexico.  Hmm…there’s a missing jungle pyramid too.

Review:  I like this one.  The bad guy is a surprise.  The location of the gold is a surprise.  Typical Hardy Boys behavior occurs.  It’s even typical that the boys find the missing pyramid while none of the locals or the visiting archaeologists can figure out its location.  Yessir, you need something found, Frank and Joe are your guys.

It’s a fun adventure tale with lots of typical elements.

Score: 8

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

44: THE HAUNTED FORT

 

44

Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon

C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: David Grambs in 1965.  The year before he revised 6: THE SHORE ROAD MYSTERY, then in the same 1965 he revised 12: FOOTPRINTS UNDER THE WINDOW, the next year he revised 27: THE SECRET OF SKULL MOUNTAIN, and finally in 1968 he revised 29: THE SECRET OF THE LOST TUNNEL.  So with this, his only original, we say good bye to Mr. Grambs.  Up until now his revisions have scored either a 6 or a 9.  Let’s see how an original does.

Was It Revised?: No.

Cover: Rudy Nappi.  A lot of blue with only Joe bringing the usual red.  A very nice nighttime scene with Frank and Joe typically staring at something scary.  Is that really a ghost?  Is the fort really haunted?  Remember your Scooby Doo, boys and girls, and you meddling kids will solve the mystery in no time at all.

Setting: Bayport and then New England.     

Where’s Fenton This Time?: He does not appear at all in this one.

Which Chums Show Up?: Chet.  Cameos by Callie and Iola.

What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: He’s an artist. Good thing they are headed to an art school.

Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: She also does not appear in the book, evidently on a retreat to learn new pie techniques.

Plot: Chet’s uncle is an instructor at a summer art school in New England, and he asks Chet and his friends to solve a mystery.  Art work is being stolen, there is a mysterious Revolutionary War fort nearby, and there is gold treasure to be found.

Review:  Other than the silly Scooby Doo ghost, this is a decent mystery.  The bad guys play rough, and in chapter XIX the bad guys sure talk a mile a minute about who did what through the book.  It’s in a bucolic setting, with lots of red herring characters, and there are clues in paintings.  But it’s not a great one either.  Just OK.

Score: 7

36: THE SECRET OF PIRATE’S HILL

36

 

Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon

C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: John Almquist in 1956.  His second of two in a row that Mr. Almquist wrote, the only ones he did.

Was It Revised?: Yes, in 1972 by Pricilla Baker-Carr.

Cover: Rudy Nappi.   What a beautiful cover this is!  Nice shades of underwater blue with green vegetation.  Frank and Joe scuba diving with a ray in the foreground.  Having handled rays, I know how gentle they actually are, but hey this makes the cover look striking, so shut up.  The funny thing is the book begins with scuba diving and ends with scuba diving, but not so much in between.  This is sort of a scene from the book, sort of symbolic (no rays appear in the book), mostly just a pleasant cover.

Setting: Bayport and nearby Pirate’s Hill. Naturally.  Amazing how much treasure is buried around this town. They should just dig up the whole area and retire. 

Where’s Fenton This Time?: Washington D.C., as usual.  Probably sorting out some partisan bickering or something.  But our Mr. Chapter XX does show up in the end.

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

What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: Guess.  Just guess.  Go on, you know you want to.  Need a hint?  Look at the cover.  Got it?  And nope, he never uses it in the book other than some practice stuff in the pool.  Hey, do you see Chet on the cover?  Didn’t think so…

Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: Nuttin’.  Mr. Almquist didn’t go for that sort of low-brow writing, I guess.  But man, I could go for a heaping slice of pie or something.

Plot: The boys are scuba diving when someone shoots at them underwater.  Silly crooks, don’t they know that if they just ignore Frank and Joe the boys will ignore them back?  Noooo, they have to shoot at them and start a process whereby these stubborn kids simply WILL.NOT.STOP until they bust you.  So trying to figure out why a diver tried to KILL THEM, they get contacted by two different individuals, opposed to each other, and accusing each other of bad behavior, both of whom want Frank and Joe to find a cannon.  Huh?  Why?  Well, that’s the plot.  Find the cannon.  Avoid getting killed in the process.

Review:  It’s suspenseful, and the mystery of the cannon is decent.  I’m a bit tired of the author throwing two people at us and telling us one of them is bad and letting us wonder which one.  That’s a plot device that got used a LOT.  But it is engaging enough, and that cover deserves a point.

Score: 7

35: THE CLUE IN THE EMBERS

 

35

Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon

C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: John Almquist in 1955.  The first of two in a row that Mr. Almquist wrote, the only ones he did.  The mid-50s seems to have been a transition time for Mr. Dixon to find his ghost writers…

Was It Revised?: Yes, in 1972 by Priscilla Baker-Carr.

Cover: Rudy Nappi.   Hate it.  So dark.  Very symbolic by throwing together elements in the book that don’t belong in the same scene.  That shrunken head?  Appears in a benign setting at the very beginning of the book and then disappears.  Yet here it is front and center as if the Hardy Boys are going to face down headhunters.  Nope.  Don’t like this one, Mr. Nappi.

Setting: Bayport and Guatemala.  

Where’s Fenton This Time?: Once again working on the same case, at times working with the boys, and at times he gets called urgently to Washington.  And then when the boys need him more than anyone, at an extremely serious climax danger situation, uh, he’s in Washington.  Sorry, boys, find someone else to do the job.  Bad, Fenton!

Which Chums Show Up?: Chet, Biff, Tony, Callie, Iola. And Maria Santos and Judy Rankin.  Who?  Exactly.  Nice try, Mr. Almquist, but no banana.

What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: None.  Oh, and he’s back to being a coward again, just as we like him.  Always nice to have ol’ Chet worry about horrible ways to die.

Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: She merely tut tuts about how dangerous things are, and the boys consciously lie to her as usual.  You don’t deserve pie when you do that.

Plot: Tony inherits some curios from a late relative’s shop in New York City.  At that exact moment a gang of crooks from Guatemala show up in Bayport and try desperate and dangerous things to get those curios.  What are they after?  Why are they willing to attempt murder for it?  Why does it always, always, always happen in Bayport?

Review:  Starts off hot, with a villain who is do unrelentingly desperate to get the goods that it’s amazing.  Chapters 1 and 2 are like having a rabid dog trying to get your hamburger — he does not quit no matter what.  It’s quite a start.  But then the mystery basically turns out to be, What Do They Want?, and once they figure that out, it’s the ol’ find the buried gold that the Hardy Boys can find instantly but the natives couldn’t find for centuries. Riiiight.

But hey, you get to visit Guatemala, and it does have this particularly nifty bit of detective work described:

“Joe shook out the contents of the envelope and selected one of the firmer tiny charred pieces. He clamped this in place on the microtome. Then, running a finely honed knife blade delicately through it, Joe cut off a section.
“What thickness?” he asked.
“About two thousandths of an inch,” Frank replied.
Working carefully, Joe cut other tissue-thin sections from several angles, letting them drop onto a glass slide. In a few moments Frank had prepared several photomicrographs of them, showing distinct wood grains.
“Now we’ll see what was burning in the sarcophagus,” Frank said as he prepared to project the first lantern slide.”

When you are a ten-year-old, this stuff is dynamite!  You feel like you are really learning stuff.

But on the whole, just a middling effort with some nice aspects and a depressing cover.

Score: 6

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)

29: THE SECRET OF THE LOST TUNNEL

29

 

Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon

C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: Andrew E. Svenson in 1950.  The second of three-in-a-row that he did in the late 40s/early 50s.

Was It Revised?: Yes, in 1968 by David Grambs, the last of his four revisions after 6: The Shore Road Mystery, 12: Footprints Under the Window and very recently 27: The Secret of Skull Mountain.  That represents two 9 ratings and one 6.  Which will his fourth revision get, the 9 end or the 6 end?

Cover: Rudy Nappi.  There’s yellow, there’s red, got some blue, and a lot of brown.  Instead of the boys peering at danger, they are investigating the secret of the lost tunnel.  Yes, a massive spoiler is placed right on the cover…

Setting: Bayport and then Virginia.  This is another Frank and Joe Down South story.  

Where’s Fenton This Time?: Testifying in Washington.  Until Chapter XX, of course.  Saves the boys’ life. Of course. 

Which Chums Show Up?: Chet.  Appearing to send them off down south are Callie, Iola and Helen Osborne (who?).

What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: Photography.  Yup, gets used.  But I have an official complaint: In 22: The Flickering Torch Mystery, Chet’s hobby is building airplanes from parts.  Yet in this story, Chet says at one point, “I’d sure like to learn to fly these things.”  Are you kidding me?  Seven books ago he’s building an airplane, yet he can’t even fly the things?!

Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: Apple pie, the basic staple of pies.  Then it’s off down south for the rest of the tale.

Plot: Military general wants to hire Fenton to find some gold his ancestor was said to have buried, but reluctantly hires Frank and Joe when Fenton is called away to Washington.  Frank and Joe go down south, start sniffing around, and go figure, a gang of crooks is looking for the same gold.  Threats and knocks on the head ensue.

Review:  Not my favorite.  It’s almost a by the numbers attempt to get in the elements of a Hardy Boys book, but it doesn’t fly.  It’s a simple treasure hunt, if said hunt was accompanied by homicidal maniacs willing to kill you to get to the treasure first.  So actually, yeah, a simple treasure hunt.  It just doesn’t work as well as it should.  Goodbye Mr. Grambs, thank you for the two 9s you gave us, sorry about the two 6s.

Score: 6