Tag Archives: james-beuchler




Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon

C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: James Beuchler in 1962.  The second of two originals in a row he would write, but we’ve seen Mr. Beuchler’s work before in 11: WHILE THE CLOCK TICKED and in 14: THE HIDDEN HARBOR MYSTERY, both of which he revised in the same years as he was writing his two originals.  I gave #11 a rating of 8 and #14 a rating of 6.  Then I gave his first original a rating of 7.  Lemme see, what number is missing in the sequence…

Was It Revised?: No.

Cover: Rudy Nappi.  Classic combination of realistic and symbolic cover art.  We have the red and yellow color, and a realistic setting, and we have a symbolic owl looking down on the action.  Well, it’s a real owl, but its size is symbolic.  And once you read the book, you’ll see how the symbolism is appropriate.  Hint.

Setting: The Poconos.  For my readers from around the world, these are a small mountain range in eastern Pennsylvania.  And if you read this book, you’ll never want to visit.  The Poconos Chamber of Commerce should sue.    

Where’s Fenton This Time?: Chapter XX, baby!  Here comes the Fenton-cavalry! 

Which Chums Show Up?: Chet.  Mr. Beuchler liked Chet a lot, and boy does Chet do great in this book.  Oh, Callie and Iola get mentioned in a phone conversation with Mrs. Hardy, but they don’t actually appear in the book.  Sorry, Callie Shaw & Iola Morton Fan Club.

What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: No hobby.  But let me rant for a moment.  In the last book — BY THE SAME AUTHOR ONE YEAR EARLIER — Chet says, “You know I can’t cook worth anything.  Eating is what I’m good at.”  Now in this book, again, same author, Chet is described this way: “Chet Morton busied himself getting supper . . . Chad had outdone himself to produce a meal of steak, friend potatoes, and hot vegetables.”  Later on he makes more meals, and does a great job.  So I’m sorry, that’s really, really poor form by Mr. Beuchler.

Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: Who?  She doesn’t appear in the book.  The book does not take place in Bayport, so no doubt she made a lovely strawberry-rhubarb pie that Mrs. Hardy ate with her while they thought about their missing household inhabitants.

Plot: Another missing person story.  The boys and Chet go to the mountains and try to find him.  Lots of atmospheric doings go on while they do.  Plus a beagle puppy!

Review:  Don’t let the simple description fool ya, this is a great story.  Suspenseful, gripping, interesting characters, it’s a great mystery.  Yes, the clue of the screeching owl is significant, but it’s misdirection, and fun at that.

This is another one of those Scooby Doo plots, with hints of the supernatural that, of course, have a perfectly normal explanation.  As Joe correctly says:

“That’s how these stories get started.  Something mysterious happens, and instead of looking for a sensible explanation, superstitious people think of spells and witches right away.”

Well said, Joe.  And the bad guy would have gotten away with it too if it hadn’t been for you meddling kids.

Score: 9 (that’s 8 for the gripping story, and 1 for the cute puppy)





Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon

C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: James Beuchler in 1961.  One of two originals in a row he would write, but we’ve seen Mr. Beuchler’s work before in 11: WHILE THE CLOCK TICKED and in 14: THE HIDDEN HARBOR MYSTERY, both of which he revised in the same years as he was writing his two originals.  I gave #11 a rating of 8 and #14 a rating of 6.  Hmm..do I smell a 7 coming on here?

Was It Revised?: No.

Cover: Rudy Nappi.  Couldn’t be more classic.  Frank is wearing red, Joe is wearing yellow, they are staring at a bad guy caught in the act, this scene comes right out of the book in the way the covers often give the ending away, and it’s at night.  My only quibble?  The giant depicted is far too small.  In the book it’s geographically accurate, but I guess Mr. Nappi had to compromise or else we’d have no idea what we’re looking at.

Setting: Bayport, the California desert and Mexico.  

Where’s Fenton This Time?: He shows up, and is one of the gang this time.

Which Chums Show Up?: Chet.

What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: Infrared photography.  Yes, it gets used in the book.  No, he never knows anything about it ever again.  Chet is really all over the place in the series.  For example, at one point in this book Chet says, “You know I can’t cook worth anything.  Eating is what I’m good at.”  Ahem, in several earlier books Chet is noted as being a great cook.  In fact, he gets jobs doing that as part of their cases.    Sloppy work there, Mr.  Beuchler…

Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: None.  At one point the boys revive a conked Chet by telling him Aunt Gertrude made a chocolate cake.  But she didn’t.  Now that’s just cruel!

Plot: This is a missing person’s story.  Someone goes missing, the boys go out west to find him.  There is a gang doing some criminal stuff that the missing person got caught up in.  That’s about it.

Review:  This is another Hardy Boys Go West story, but I give Mr. Beuchler credit for adding more realism to the characters.  When they finally find the missing person, he doesn’t want to be found, and he has valid psychological reasons for thinking this.

I pointed out how intense 11: WHILE THE CLOCK TICKED is, with perhaps the most dire ending situation of any Hardy Boys book.  Well, he likes writing interesting psychological personalities, and I give him credit.

I also like that the crime in this story is not the usual jewel thieves or the like, but a more realistic type of crime.  We are getting into modern behavior now.

And I have to quote the final words of this book (no major spoilers) simply because it perfectly encapsulates why these books are loved:

“Living with you for these past few days has taught me that there are still plenty of wonderful people in the world.  I promise you, if I ever get sour on life again, all I’ll need to keep up my spirits will be to remind myself of Frank and Joe Hardy and Chet Morton — three swell fellows.”

I think we can all say Amen to that.

Score: 7



Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon

C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: Leslie McFarlane in 1932

Was It Revised?: Yes, in 1962 by James Beuchler

Cover: Rudy Nappi, red and yellow as is typical.  What is not typical is this cover is a massive spoiler!  One of the two key mysteries of this book is solved for you right on the cover.  Oh, Mr. Nappi, it’s a good thing you didn’t paint this cover in the 21st-century — Twitter would have been all over you for doing this.  But back to the cover, it’s a solid entry.  The boys are not just staring at trouble as usual, this time they are in the middle of trouble, and oh what trouble it is (see below)!

Setting: Bayport.

Where’s Fenton This Time?: He and the missus are off somewhere and don’t show up at all.  The one time we really need Fenton to ride to the rescue, he’s AWOL.  Fenton, you had one job…

Which Chums Show Up?: Chet, Biff, Jerry, Tony, Iola and Callie.  Chet gets the big role.

What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: Doing criminal voices again, I guess.  He hasn’t had any hobbies for a couple of books now.  Maybe Iola teased him too much.

Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: A whole fudge pie, and then later some apple pie, and a big feast at the end.  If you don’t get hungry reading Hardy Boys books, you’re doing it wrong.

Plot: More jewel thieves in town (it’s a wonder any woman in Bayport has so much as an earring left).  Hurd Applegate shows up again (see The Tower Treasure), and again, his jade gets stolen.  It’s called a safe, Hurd, look into it.  Meanwhile an abandoned house is purchased and the new owner hires Frank and Joe to solve the mystery of how someone is able to leave threatening notes in the middle of a completely sealed room.

Review: The ending of this one makes your hair stand on end.  It’s an are-you-kidding-me moment where you cannot believe what you just read.  Usually the boys get beat up, or threatened to get dumped in the ocean or something.  But look at that cover.  This is at the end when the boys are tied up and a bomb is set to go off and kill them.  Obliterate them!  And there is NOTHING they can do about it.  They cannot get untied, they cannot reach the bomb, they know it will go off at 3am and all they can do is watch that clock tick to their doom.  Blow up the Hardy Boys?  Was Mr. McFarlane so sick of writing these books that he indulged in a little fantasy here?  You read this ending and you are shocked at the potential violence here.  And the bad guy is really, really spiteful!  No confession at the end for this jerk.  Even after he’s caught, good luck finding the stolen jewels.  Phew!  This one’s intense.

Score: 8