Tag Archives: Priscilla Baker-Carr

28: THE SIGN OF THE CROOKED ARROW

 

28

Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon

C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: Andrew E. Svenson in 1949.  His first since revising 23: The Melted Coins (which I gave an 8) and before that 7: The Secret of the Caves (which only got a 5).  Mr. Svenson will end up writing several of the later volumes.

Was It Revised?: Yes, in 1970 by Priscilla Baker-Carr, who will be revising most of the rest as we go along.

Cover: Rudy Nappi.  Yellow and red are back!  A bit abstract, not actually an event from the book, but thematically accurate.  Mid-level Nappi.

Setting: Bayport and then New Mexico.  Unlike Hunting for Hidden Gold, written originally in 1928, and very much reflecting the Old West in spirit, this one is very much a product of mid-century Americana.  In the late-40s and early-50s, the U.S. went Western mad, so this is very much a Frank-and-Joe-go-West story.  But unlike the Old West setting in Hidden Gold, this is more dude ranch western living.  

Where’s Fenton This Time?: He gets his sorry self shot by an arrow and spends lots of time in the hospital and then recuperating in bed.  In fact, this is why Frank and Joe have to fill in when his sister needs help on her New Mexico ranch.  Don’t worry, he wouldn’t miss his Chapter XX appearance, typically by air.

Which Chums Show Up?: Chet, of course.  Iola appears briefly.

What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: Judo.  Yup, gets used.

Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: After three desserts in the last one, Gertrude had to rest a bit. Don’t worry, the boys get good western cooking.  Chet even eats too much to go riding.  What, like that surprises you?

Plot: Some crooks who knock people out and rob them decide to take their stuff made in New Mexico and travel to, oh, lemme think, what would be a good place to be swindlers?  How about Bayport, all the way across the country, and thick with crack detectives?  Yeah, that’s the idea.  And then they are forced to try to prevent Frank and Joe from going to New Mexico. Hint to crooks: If you hadn’t been stupid enough to set up shop in Bayport, Frank and Joe wouldn’t have a clue you exist!  Anyway, their aunt in New Mexico needs help because her ranch hands start going missing.  Yes, it’s all tightly connected.  And hint to readers: if you ever get invited to ride in a plane with the Hardy Boys, decline with extreme prejudice.  Guaranteed your plane will be tampered with and require an emergency landing.  The FAA should ban these books.

Review:  Not bad, not great.  Amazing coincidence as usual, a bit tiring with all the cliched western speech, amazing how Frank and Joe are expert at everything that the ranch hands spend their living at, but the mystery is interesting, and it keeps you guessing.  And hey, if a kid learns a bit about modern cowboy life, why not?  But remember how I keep drawing parallels with Scooby Doo?  Check out this line from the book: “I would’ve gotten the car, too, if it hadn’t been for you Hardys.”  I’m telling you, the Hardy Boys got there first…

Score: 7

26: THE PHANTOM FREIGHTER

 

 

26Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon

C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: Amy McFarlane in 1947.  Yes, wife of Leslie McFarlane.  We’ve had Harriet Adams as the author several times, and she is their daughter, but this is the one and only book written by Amy.

Was It Revised?: Yes, in 1970 by Priscilla Baker-Carr.

Cover: Rudy Nappi.  Wow, I always hated this cover, and still do.  The yellow is so overwhelming, and the ghostly effect of the ship is so faint, it just repels me.  If you are a yellow admirer, and you’ve been waiting breathlessly for this cover to finally get reviewed, you now hate me.

Setting: Bayport, and seemingly every port within driving distance, and then at the end of the book a sea voyage.  But it takes until the end of the book for that to happen.  Because once again, crooks who so cleverly come up with an intricate scheme to rob people, pick Bayport and Aunt Gertrude as the scene and victim of the crime.  That’s just asking for trouble…

Where’s Fenton This Time?: Hanging around the edges as usual.  He’s always working on some other angle, hears about the boys and the clues they uncover, gets enthusiastic about what they got done, then goes back to his usual dead ends.  But hey, this time at the end he comes sailing to the rescue.  Literally.

Which Chums Show Up?: Chet, with Callie and Iola popping up briefly, Tony Prito, and Biff has graduated to the point where even Gertrude recommends him to provide muscle.

What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: Fly fishing ties.

Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: Strawberry shortcake, baby!

Plot: An older gentleman contacts the boys, says he has a mystery, but first book me a vacation the three of us will take and I’ll tell you about the mystery later.  Meanwhile somebody is intercepting delivery packages and selling what they steal to stores.  And then there is the report of a phantom freighter out on the water.

Review:  Not bad, Amy.  You learned a lot from your husband, and you created a typical Hardy Boys story.  Where I have a problem, however, is the idea of the older guy trying to get the Hardys to go on vacation with him.  Amy paints it as Frank and Joe being bemused by the man, but I didn’t buy it.  I saw little in this guy’s attitude that made me want to spend time with him.  As for the bad guys, man, 2/3 of the book is them trying to keep Frank and Joe off any ship in port.  When will bad buys learn that trying to stop Frank and Joe from doing something is the fastest way to get them suspicious of you.  Silly smugglers, tricks are for rabbits and kids, not crooks.

Score: 7

25: THE SECRET PANEL

 

25

Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon

C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: Harriet S. Adams in 1946.  No more Leslie McFarlane.  But this is the same Ms. Adams who rewrote both books 1 and 2, so she’s not new to this game.

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

Cover: Rudy Nappi.  More orange than red, and Frank is really letting down the side by wearing blue, but I quibble.  This is a great cover, full of action and menace.  Look at the threatening shadow on the wall!  Nicely done.

Setting: Bayport, and seemingly 10 minutes drive in every direction from there.  Read the book to get that.  You know what astounds me?  The crooks in this story move from city to city for their nefarious deeds.  They set up in a new city, pick a local hideout, steal and then move on.  So here’s my question: If Bayport is world famous for harboring the world-famous detective, Fenton Hardy, and his sharp sons who are also world famous, what idiot crook thinks that’s the spot for them to set up?

Where’s Fenton This Time?: He’s good this time.  He’s on the sidelines doing his thing, but when the boys get into a very serious scrape, we see Fenton on his game.  He cooly and methodically figures out how to save his sons.  It’s exciting to finally seeing the master in action.

Which Chums Show Up?: Chet, with Callie and Iola popping up a few times, and they even help out in the case briefly.  Phil gets mentioned once but does not actually appear.

What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: He bought a boat.  Which he promptly loses.  Then never buys another one again.  Natch.

Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: Nothing.  Evidently Bayport has run out of flour or something…

Plot: A house with no visible locks, and a man who is supposed to have died showing up looking very much alive.  Add some crooks who decide to make the lockless house their hangout, and you’ve got trouble, right here in Bayport city.

Review:  A nice one.  There’s a marvelously creepy scene where one brother hears the other say, “let’s go” as they are exploring a deserted house.  Only it wasn’t the other brother saying it.  And the person saying it has no idea the brothers are present.  Very well done scene.  Nice exploration of locksmithing, Fenton gets to shine, it all takes place in Bayport, the secret panel is a rough fate to experience.  I like this one.

Score: 8

24: THE SHORT-WAVE MYSTERY

 

24

Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon

C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: Leslie McFarlane in 1945.  And yes, as World War II comes to an end, so does the great Mr. McFarlane’s participation in this series comes to a close.  This is the last Hardy Boys book he wrote, so let me take a moment and thank him for wonderful childhood memories.  Yes, I know, his originals were 25 chapters and written in a more complex manner than the revisions, and what I’m reviewing are the revisions.  But he gave us the Hardy Boys, and for that I am thankful.

Was It Revised?: Yes, in 1966 by Priscilla Baker-Carr.  Just as we say goodbye to Leslie McFarlane, we now say hello to Ms. Carr for she will be revising most of the next dozen or so books.  Ms. Carr, you are now in the spotlight.  Welcome.

Cover: Rudy Nappi.  The red and yellow habit is being carried on by Joe.  This steps back from the recent abstract covers and returns to the classic look: Frank and Joe staring at danger.  This one is a night scene with blowing snow, Frank using his short-wave radio, Joe peering in at some nefarious doings.  Great cover.

Setting: Bayport, and briefly Canada.

Where’s Fenton This Time?: He’s got his routine down pat: be part of some related part of the case that keeps him out of his kid’s hair until he’s needed in chapter XX on Deus Ex Machina airlines.

Which Chums Show Up?: Chet, with Biff, Tony, Phil, Callie and Iola showing up a bit.

What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: Taxidermy.  No, he won’t use it after this book.  His closet must be stuffed with old hobby tools…

Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: Made some nice meals, but no pie.  I’m getting impatient.  And hungry.

Plot: Some strange short-wave transmissions get picked up by Frank and Joe, and some business espionage, and missing jewels, and stuffed animal heads that carry a secret, and juvenile delinquents that Frank and Joe take care of (hi, 1966).  Yes, it all ties together.

Review:  Classic Hardy Boys.  A good mystery involving code words, Chet’s hobby is the center of the Bayport universe, the stuffed animal plot is fun and clever.  It moves.  It works.

Score: 7