Tag Archives: Shaggy

27: THE SECRET OF SKULL MOUNTAIN

27

Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon

C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: George Waller Jr. in 1948.  This is Mr. Waller’s only entry into the canon.  Mr. Waller, step on down, this is your book.

Was It Revised?: Yes, in 1966 by David Grambs, and the first one he revised since #6, The Shore Road Mystery (which I liked a lot and gave a 9) and #12, Footprints Under the Window (which I thought was merely OK, and just gave a 6).

Cover: Rudy Nappi.  Classic Nappi, great action moment with a landslide coming down the mountain, and Joe carrying a skull.  All described in the book, folks.

Setting: Bayport, and surroundings.  We never travel too far.

Where’s Fenton This Time?: Hanging around house waiting for word from Chicago, or headed to Chicago, because while the interesting crooks get to be rounded up by his boys, it’s Fenton who takes down an entire syndicate.  Show-off.  But he shows up at the end like the sheriff does at the end of each Scooby Doo episode.  Speaking of which, isn’t this a classic Scooby Doo title, The Secret of Skull Mountain?  Can you just see Shaggy’s legs quivering as he hears the gang’s plans to travel there?

Which Chums Show Up?: Chet, the third Hardy Boy by this point considering how often they include him, and how often he includes himself for Aunt Gertrude’s fine meals, making himself her personal gourmand.  Then there is Biff and Callie and Iola.  Fans of Callie Shaw: this is your book.  She gets to do some detective work and does a fine job of it.  I’m not kidding, she actually does well.  Frank should be proud.

What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: No hobby this time.  You’d think his fly fishing from the last book would come in handy by the lake in this book, but noooooo….

Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: Your patience has been rewarded!  Not one, not two, but three different specific desserts are mentioned here: “generous slices of cherry pie,” as well as apple cake and a seven-layer chocolate nut cake that the boys use to bribe Chet into coming to Skull Mountain.  No, seriously, that’s how they convince Chet.  What?  It works.  Meanwhile Gertrude gets in a snide remark about how the Hardy house is “worse than a railroad station!  People racing in and out any time they please, expecting Laura and me to run a twenty-four hour restaurant service!”  You tell ’em, Gertrude!  You probably had to put down your copy of The Feminine Mystique to cook these beasts their food on demand — nah, she loves it, especially Chet who actually shows appreciation for the grub.

Plot: Something’s wrong with the water supply in Bayport, and the planned new dam that will be up on the lake by Skull Mountain is running into all kinds of resistance.  And a suspicious plumber is up to something.  And it’s amazing how people start acting all hillbilly just a few miles outside of Bayport which is, I remind you, in New York State.

Review:  Good job, Mr. Waller Jr. and Mr. Grambs.   This is classic Hardy Boys, a good mystery that is actually quite straightforward, a scientist is kidnapped, locals are threatening but of mixed motive, the bad guys are suitably rough, and the story moves along.  Plus Frank gets to have a solo adventure in the bay that is quite physically challenging.  And at the end the boys figure it out themselves, and they defeat the bad guys themselves.  Plus the cover is good, and Callie helps out, and Chet does a good job.  I will note that it’s always amazing how these boys will plunge into dangerous situations with little regard for personal safety, just as long as they can solve the mystery they will jump right in.  I hope we never get The Dante’s Inferno Mystery or these boys will be plunging into something they won’t get out of so easily.

Score: 9

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