Tag Archives: mexico

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

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

40: MYSTERY OF THE DESERT GIANT

40

 

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

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