Tag Archives: Jack Wayne

31: THE SECRET OF WILDCAT SWAMP

31

 

Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon

C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: William Halstead in 1952.  His one and only Hardy Boys book.

Was It Revised?: Yes, in 1969 by Pricilla Baker-Carr.

Cover: Rudy Nappi.    A bit of red and yellow, but mostly we are in the green period.  A little too much green for the subject, if you ask me (and if you are reading this site, you are asking me).  This is another literal episode cover, and it nicely confuses the reader into thinking this book will be about wildcats when it’s really about . . .

Setting: Bayport and the West.  This is another Hardy Boys Go West story, and this one not only has cowboys, it also has people running around on top of a moving train.  Just like Hollywood.  Hey, 1952 was Western central.   

Where’s Fenton This Time?: Back east until it’s time for his usual appearance, but it’s earlier than usual and he and the boys work together a lot more than is typical.

Which Chums Show Up?: Chet.  Yee-haw!

What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: None.  But, and this is really important, for the first time ever Chet remembers he had a hobby in the past.  He actually remembers his judo from 28: The Sign of the Crooked Arrow!  Well done, writers!

Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: None.  I’m starving.

Plot: A teacher in Bayport asks Frank and Joe to come out west to help him with an archaeological dig in Wildcat Swamp.  Which when they get there nobody knows it by that name.  And a bunch of crooks are, naturally, after that very spot for . . . something.

Review:  Decent, not a big fan of the Hardy Boys Western series.  It’s just adventures out west, not so much of the detective stuff.

Score: 6

30: THE WAILING SIREN MYSTERY

 

30

Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon

C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: Andrew E. Svenson in 1951.  The third of three-in-a-row that he did in the late 40s/early 50s.  And the last one he did until he writes what, for me, is one of the highlights of the entire series (you’ll see).

Was It Revised?: Yes, in 1968 by Pricilla Baker-Carr, and it’s Ms. Baker-Carr the rest of the way until we hit 1960 and the original stories stand alone at last.

Cover: Rudy Nappi.  Not much red or yellow, it’s all shades of green and blue.  But what a great cover this is!  Unlike the recent abstract covers, this one is almost a photograph.  I think I like the night covers in the rain a lot (see my raving over What Happened at Midnight).  And unlike other covers that spoil the endings, this one is basically chapter one.  That’s the actual scene from the book, and it’s portrayed exactly as written.  If you don’t want to know why that helicopter is flying in the rain to meet that yacht, you don’t deserve to read Hardy Boys books.  I mean, Frank and Joe would see that scene and leap to figure it out…

Setting: Bayport and the woods north of there.   

Where’s Fenton This Time?: Back and forth to Washington, showing up at times to help, and then making one of the most dashing Chapter XX Deus Ex Helicopter entrances ever.

Which Chums Show Up?: Chet, Biff, Tony, Callie, Iola.  It’s more or less a camping trip for the boys.

What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: None.  

Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: None.  I’m hungry.

Plot: See the cover?  What’s that all about?  Well, that’s the plot, trying to figure out what’s going on.  Oh, OK, I’ll tell you it involves crooks doing some gunrunning, thefts, wolves in the woods ready to rip people’s throats out (what?  That’s what the book says, so don’t yell at me if your 10-year-old just complained I got too graphic).

Review:  This one is OK, not great.  You know, that cover is funny because of course Frank and Joe would just happen to be there while this event is going on.  If they don’t take the Sleuth out for a spin, they don’t see that scene.  If they don’t see that scene, they have no idea anything is happening.  Well, Fenton is working the D.C. angle, so he would eventually figure it out, but man, the crooks pick Bayport as their base of operations again?!  Have they not read books 1-29?

And Frank and Joe stumble into so many mysteries by being in the right place at the right time I’m surprised there isn’t a series of historical Hardy Boys books: The Mystery of Ford’s Theater, for instance, when Frank and Joe happen to have tickets to see a show in 1865 when … well, you know.

And what’s with the wailing siren of the title?  It keeps going off, and the only ones who seem to care are Frank and Joe.  Huh?  If you hear a massive siren going off from the woods, don’t you think someone would figure out what’s going on?  The police would, if no one else, simply to stop all the citizens calling in to complain about that noise going off again.  Seriously, if this is the method chosen by the crooks to signal their moves, they are genuine idiots.

Score: 7

19 THE DISAPPEARING FLOOR

19

Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon

C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: John Button in 1940, the third of his five books in a row.

Was It Revised?: Yes, in 1966 by James D. Lawrence, the last of his three revisions.   

Cover: John Leone, his third and last cover with Rudy Nappi taking over again for the rest of the series.  As usual, Frank and Joe are wearing red and yellow (in fact, Joe is himself wearing red and yellow — way to take one for the team, Joe!).  Night scene, old house, ghostly figure approaching — yup, still in Scooby Doo territory here.  I’m telling you, Scooby Doo owes a debt to the Hardy Boys.  Let’s see, if Chet is Shaggy, and Frank is Fred, and Callie and Iola are . . . naaah, it’s not THAT much of a pattern.

Setting: Bayport, nothing but Bayport and its surroundings.  Why go anywhere else when major international criminal enterprises decide Bayport is a happening place?

Where’s Fenton This Time?: Chicago mostly, waiting for a break in the case that never comes.  Even when he makes his usual Chapter XX appearance, this time he doesn’t save the day.  Frank and Joe have it all wrapped up by then.

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

What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: Nuttin’.  Well, being scared, but willing to help.

Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: Lemon pie.  But Gerty is described as making other pies that the boys are too busy to eat, so who knows, maybe the author would have described more pies if they had stuck around.

Plot: Jewel thieves in Bayport.  I know!  As if there could be any jewels left in town by this point!  Plus an old house in the middle of nowhere that has a floor that disappears.  Plus blood-curdling (I believe that would be the appropriate cliche) screams in the night, a dog that growls, someone whose dying words talk about “…the floor,” yes, it’s a humdinger of a Scooby Doo mystery here.

Review:  I like this one.  Good mysteries involving a laughably elaborate plan to fool someone into going to the 6th floor of a building instead of the 5th floor (think Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol – see folks, all of modern fiction derives from the Hardy Boys), a floor that appears and then disappears, suitably tough jewel thieves, high stakes action, a mysterious message from Jack Wayne as he seems to be flying for the bad guys, and it’s all in Bayport with Chet around to get spooked by the ghost.  Oh, right, that ghost.  You don’t really think it’s a ghost, do you?  Remember, Scooby Doo territory here!

Score: 8

18: THE TWISTED CLAW

18

Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon

C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: John Button in 1939, the second of his five books in a row.

Was It Revised?: Yes, in 1969 by Tom Mulvey, the last of his five revisions.  I like each of his previous four quite a bit.  

Cover: Rudy Nappi, red and yellow (if you look for it), but mostly red, red, red.  And the usual spoiler being revealed.  Frankly, this is a Scooby Doo cover.  You can just picture Shaggy and Scooby wandering the museum at night while a sinister pair of eyes peer at them from the suit of armor.  As usual, the Hardy Boys anticipated and set the pattern for Scooby Doo.

Setting: Bayport, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Delaware, Miami, and a Caribbean island.

Where’s Fenton This Time?: Right there working with the boys.  And yes, saves the day in chapter XX as is typical.

Which Chums Show Up?: Chet, and Iola briefly.

What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: Archaeology, but only briefly mentioned in order to get two jokes at Chet’s expense in the middle of the book, and then repeat the joke as the book’s final line.  And it ain’t that funny.  No, this looks like the author knows McFarlane typically gave Chet a hobby, so he would too, but he doesn’t know how to embed it into the story.

Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: Oh, she’s too busy clucking that no good will come from [whatever the Hardys are doing, that always leads to good coming from it].

Plot: A pirate king with his own island, two freighters being used for no good, a series of museum robberies.

Review:  Again this doesn’t read like a McFarlane.  Lots of stuff happening, but it’s more of a procedural about working on ships, on how to rob a museum, etc.  Not that interesting or typically Hardy Boy-ian.

Score: 6

15: THE SINISTER SIGNPOST

15

Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon

C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: Leslie McFarlane in 1936

Was It Revised?: Yes, in 1968 by Tom Mulvey, one of five he revised and the first since The Mark On The Door.

Cover: Rudy Nappi, red and yellow but this time Frank is wearing blue.  What a great cover this is!  Frank and Joe are dodging a classic looking sports car that is falling apart because of the sinister signpost.  Great action depiction that is like a Hollywood movie poster in that it shows something that is thematically correct while at the same time showing a scene that never occurs in the story.

Setting: Bayport and Maryland for a little horse farm subplot and Vermont for a brief side story, but mostly the region around Bayport.

Where’s Fenton This Time?: By the phone.  Seriously.  At every turn of the story, Fenton suggests Frank and Joe go out into action while he waits by the phone in case the police call or the crooks call or his bookie calls — OK, not that last one.  Mr. Deus Ex Fenton doesn’t even fulfill that role.  Instead he gets his sorry butt captured and it’s up to Joe to be heroic and save the day, with a big assist from Chet.

Which Chums Show Up?: Chet a lot, and Biff and Tony for a brief scene.

What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: Bicycle with rockets.  Yes, you read that right.  No, I’m not kidding.  Yes, of course it comes into the story.

Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: Coconut-custard pie, and later on an apple pie.

Plot: A factory making experimental motors (and man, does Bayport have a lot of experimental, top-secret factories around town) is the victim of information being leaked somehow.  Plus race cars get their windshields clouded by some sort of device installed in street signs.  And Aunt Gertrude inherits a horse farm in Maryland that is not as irrelevant to the plot as you might think.

Review:  I like this one.  From its top-notch (pun intended, if you’ve read the book) cover, to its Bayport setting, and lots of flights by Jack Wayne who never seems to mind being asked to do anything, this one has a lot going for it.  A good mystery that needs to be solved, subplots that tie into the main plot, twins, car racing, it’s fun.

Score: 8

13: THE MARK ON THE DOOR

13

Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon

C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: Leslie McFarlane in 1934

Was It Revised?: Yes, in 1967 by Tom Mulvey, one of five he did and the first since What Happened at Midnight and The Great Airport Mystery.

Cover: Rudy Nappi, red as always but the yellow is the sky and house.  Frank and Joe are not hidden and watching something, they are confronting a guy waving a machete!  Uh oh, are we in for more Latino stereotypes?  Nope, Mr. Mulvey resists that temptation for the most part.  The Mexico people are nuanced here.  At least we see that mark on the door.

Setting: Bayport and Mexico.  Mostly Mexico.  This is Frank and Joe south of the border.

Where’s Fenton This Time?: Oh he’s around for the beginning as it’s his idea for the boys to join him in Mexico — and he even suggests Chet come along too for no obvious reason whatsoever.   Then he dutifully disappears for the bulk of the book, only to show up WITH AN ARMY at the end, as usual.  I mean, we got helicopters and everything at the end.  This is a James Bond ending.

Which Chums Show Up?: Chet, the third musketeer.  Jack Wayne shows up prominently again, not only to get them to Mexico and back, but also some nifty flying in country.

What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: Ain’t got none.

Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: She made an apple pie.  She’s warming up in this series.

Plot: A sub is spotted near Bayport (because of course it is), and a connection is made to Mexico.  Off they fly and a search gets underway, but nobody wants to talk because of the mark on the door.

Review:  Not a big fan.  It’s Frank and Joe touring the Mexican countryside trying to solve a mystery nobody will talk about.  What on earth is so vital that lives are at stake?  When we finally find out what the plot is, we can’t believe so much effort went into so little.  Seriously?  The bad guy threaten people’s lives over this?!  He goes through that much effort for yet another scam when there are plenty of jewels in Bayport to rob like every other crook?  There have to be easier ways to make a living!  That said, there is one absolutely terrific sequence where the boys are trapped on board the submarine and they have to escape.  How they do it, and the bravery and leadership Joe shows in the process, are top notch.  It’s Joe as James Bond, and I ain’t kidding.  Hey, Mr. Mulvey rewrote this in 1967, and that was near peak publicity for James Bond.  He got ideas . . .

Score: 5

12: FOOTPRINTS UNDER THE WINDOW

12

Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon

C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: Leslie McFarlane in 1933

Was It Revised?: Yes, in 1965 by David Grambs, one of four he did and the first since The Shore Road Mystery

Cover: Rudy Nappi, red and yellow as is typical.  Plus green foliage and tan roof.  Frank and Joe and Chet face down a gang of desperadoes who don’t need no steekin’ badges!  Oh sorry, so many South American cliches in this book I got carried away.

Setting: Bayport and an island off the coast of South America

Where’s Fenton This Time?: Gone until the very end, at which point he performs his usual job and SAVES HIS SON’S LIVES.  Again.  

Which Chums Show Up?: Chet, Tony, Iola and Callie.  But other than Iola getting a bag of hers stolen, not much goes on with the others except for Chet who might as well be the honorary third Hardy boy in this book he does so much.  And Jack Wayne shows up prominently to fly them back and forth to South America.

What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: Weather forecasting.  What?  It’s a hobby!

Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: No sweets described, just some delicious meals the reader cannot share because they aren’t described.  Bad David Grambs!

Plot: Top-secret microfilm is at risk, and tourists from South America are having their bags stolen, and a laundry gets into the plot, and footsteps are seen under some windows, and Fenton is off doing who knows what.  And tell me this isn’t EXACTLY a line from Scooby Doo: “You catch on fast,” [SPOILER] said mockingly.  “The warning sign I put up here and the ghost legend helped keep people away — But not you nosy kids.”  Heh, you can’t tell me the Scooby Doo writers weren’t Hardy Boy fans when they were young!

Review:  Just OK.  Lots of investigating which gets interrupted by a trip to South America where they encounter a dictator’s gang (so 1960s!), fly back, get locked in a  tomb (!) and have a race to the finish when things look bad.  But the Coast Guard is made to look like an unstoppable force when they show up.

Score: 6

10: WHAT HAPPENED AT MIDNIGHT

10

Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon

C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: Leslie McFarlane in 1931

Was It Revised?: Yes, in 1967 by Tom Mulvey

Cover: Rudy Nappi, blue, yellow, nighttime in the park in the rain.  This is one of my favorite covers. Frank and Joe look serious and grown up, the rain effect is beautifully done with the lights burning yellow in the background as the clock is about to strike midnight, and there is Anchor Pete just like in the book. Wonderful cover.  Simply magnificent work by Mr. Nappi.

Setting: Bayport.

Where’s Fenton This Time?: California, working on a case that, natch, ties into the boys’ case.  Chapter XX cavalry!

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

What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: Nothing.  He does speak well of his jalopy when it gets insulted, so I suppose he was spending his time on Queenie.

Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: Some undescribed cake.  Harrumph.  At least give us some details of the food, please.

Plot: Robberies that vary in location from time to time to stay one step ahead of the law, and this time it’s in Bayport, that notorious nexus of nefariousness.  Frank and Joe are asked to grab a nifty spy radio some scientist had invented, but the radio is a Hitchcock MacGuffin.  The real story is the gang of thieves who decide to get rid of the Hardy Boys since they are getting in the way.  There’s kidnapping, plane crashes, a guy who uses an anchor as a weapon (did you not see the cover?  That’s chapter 19 right there!), stolen cars, the works.  Yet it’s all Bayport.

Review: This is a good one.  It’s a tightly contained story without any traveling or odd side plots or Chet hobbies and the like.  Crooks versus Hardy Boys, with the motif of the clock striking midnight repeated throughout the book.  This is a simple mystery well told.

Score: 9 (8 for the pretty good story, extra point for the terrific cover)