Tag Archives: tom-mulvey

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 know McFarlane typically had Chet with 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

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)

9: THE GREAT AIRPORT MYSTERY

9Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon

C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: Leslie McFarlane in 1930

Was It Revised?: Yes, in 1965 by Tom Mulvey

Cover: Rudy Nappi, just a bit of red and yellow, but more brown and blue this time.  A daytime scene right out of the book.  This time instead of them staring at a bad guy from a distance, they are in full investigative mode.  Good cover.

Setting: Bayport, plus briefly the Caribbean and Montana.

Where’s Fenton This Time?: Oh, busy doing his own investigating, but he’s now mostly out of the picture.  No cavalry needed here.

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

What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: Speaking like a dead man.  You had to be there.

Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: Both strawberry short cake as well as gingerbread with apple sauce and whipped cream.  Frank and Joe are full.  Chet could use a little more.

Plot: Someone is stealing platinum parts from an air shipping company.  Frank and Joe become employees to investigate.  A dead man keeps speaking (but remember the Scooby Doo rule!).

Review: Not bad at all.  The boys get to do a lot of flying, something that becomes a key part of their investigative tool box for most of the series.  I think the 1950s and 1960s loved the idea of freedom through the air because the Hardy Boys sure do love them some flying.

This book has a good mystery, gang members who throw grenades, a presumed dead pilot who keeps haunting the living pilot who took his job, a tornado, a severe storm on an island, Chet being humorous in a way that ties right into the plot, and chattering bad guys in the end as we wrap it up.

And now we are done with the single-digit books, and it’s time to move into the Hardy Boys classic period with some very interesting books coming up.

Score: 7