Tag Archives: vincent buranelli

57: THE FIREBIRD ROCKET

57

 

Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon

C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: Vincent Buranelli in 1978.  The third of three in a row he wrote, and now we say goodbye to Mr. Buranelli.

Was It Revised?: No.

Cover: Rudy Nappi.  I like this one, with the dominant green in the Australia background, the rocket blasting off, and modern Frank and Joe (with 70s haircuts) bringing the classic red and yellow back.

Setting: Bayport, Princeton NJ and then Australia. Let’s see, they probably figured, the boys had been up and down North and South America, all over Europe, to Japan, and also Africa.  Hey, let’s send them down under!

Where’s Fenton This Time?: He sends them off to investigate, but he shows up before the end to help rescue his sons and catch the bad guys.

Which Chums Show Up?: Chet, Biff, Tony, Phil, Iola and … whoa!  No Callie?  You finally include Iola, Mr. Buranelli, and leave Callie out?!  Anyway, it’s Chet’s show as usual.

What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: Look at the title of this book.  Now you tell me what his hobby is.  Still didn’t figure it out?  Look at the title again.  See the words in the title?  Now what do you think Chet’s hobby is?  Right.

Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: No dessert for you today.

Plot: The Firebird rocket program is in trouble because its top scientist has been kidnapped.  Frank and Joe go searching for him.  All the way to Australia, mate.

Review:  Another good Buranelli.  I like this one a lot.  It has a very straightforward mystery, with the question of who is or is not a bad guy.  They go off to Australia and do the tourist thing while tracking down the scientist.  The bad guys are suitably bad.  The scenery and local color is cool.  Fenton does his suave thing at the end.

I will note this one sentence as being dated:

“This is one thing Women’s Lib did for us.”

Yes, kids, that’s how people talked in the 70s.  But hey, that’s life.

A really good book.

Score: 9

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

55: THE WITCHMASTER’S KEY

55

 

Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon

C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: Vincent Buranelli in 1976.  The first of three in a row he wrote, among others.

Was It Revised?: No.

Cover: Rudy Nappi.  A symbolic cover, drab grey and brown.  There’s Stonehenge, and there’s the mysterious bearded dude, and there’s a key all right.  Blah. It’s ugly.

Setting: England and Ireland.  Not the kind of story that will make their tourist boards happy.

Where’s Fenton This Time?: Back in the States after sending them off into horrible danger.  He does not show up.

Which Chums Show Up?: Just Chet and Phil.  And they only show up by accident, in a way.  No, this one is Frank and Joe’s story.

What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: Hard to say.  He and Phil go on a cycling tour of Europe, so I guess cycling is the hobby.  But Chet also mentions wanting to take Manx cats back home to Bayport.  Wait, what?  Maybe that’s the hobby.  I dunno, feels like a comment that was stuck in to check off the “Hobby” box.

Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: She only appears on the phone to tut tut about danger.  No pie today, boys.  Better get yourself a Cornish pasty instead.

Plot: Fenton asks them to fly to England to help a professor friend with whatever he needs.  Yup, that’s it, no idea what’s in store, just go help a friend.  Then witches.  That’s about it for the plot.

Review:  My sons went to England and just brought me back a curse.  Or something.  Look, remember the Scooby Doo rule that there is never going to be any real supernatural stuff in the Hardy Boys.  They just pretend before realizing it was just Mr. Hopper wearing a mask, and he would have gotten away with it if it hadn’t been for you kids — sorry, let’s move on…

At one point we get this description:

“A pitch-black raven perched on the topmost pinnacle.  As they watched, it emitted a loud, hoarse croak and flew off in the direction of the churchyard, which was visible in the distance.

The rising wind shook the top of the Witch Museum.  rain lashed the tiles outside.  A bolt of light night cut through the sky.  Thunder boomed overhead.”

Oh brother, that’s laying it on thick!  You get the point, the authors aways try to make you think a woman is walking on water or rising from the dead, but it ain’t the case.

That said, this is the closest they ever get to the supernatural.  In this case, they really do deal with witches.  Wiccan beliefs are discussed, though they are never called Wiccan.  Curses are issued.  Rituals are followed.  If this stuff freaks you out, skip this book.

But in the end, of course, it’s a simple case of robbery.  Hey, it’s the Hardy Boys.  But because of the overt nature of the witch plot, this is an atypical book.  It’s the Hardy Boys telling ghost stories around a campfire.

Not my favorite.

Score: 5

22: THE FLICKERING TORCH MYSTERY

22

 

Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon

C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: Leslie McFarlane in 1943. After five in a row of John Button, and five I was not especially fond of, the master is back with only two more to his name yet to come.

Was It Revised?: Yes, in 1971 by Vincent Buranelli, the second revision he did along with his later originals. I didn’t care for his other revision, The Mystery of the Flying Express, giving that one a very low 4 score. Will Mr. Buranelli do better with a McFarlane?

Cover: Rudy Nappi. Is there red and yellow? A little, but this is green on purple and oh, so 70s I could just ease on down the road with a funky song in my heart. This is like a James Bond poster if they wanted to imply Sean Connery was really hitting the good stuff this time. Very dated, but the use of color is striking, and it certainly symbolizes the plot.

Setting: Bayport, and nearby.

Where’s Fenton This Time?: Working another angle on the case with Sam Radley, but he shows up and helps out here and there. Mostly in the series recently he’s been there to say, no, he can’t do that dangerous step, but sure, the boys can, just be careful, OK? What does he think an 18- and 17-year-old will say to that question?

Which Chums Show Up?: Chet, Callie and Iola, Biff and Tony, Phil, the whole band, and yes, I mean band. Just like in 1971 Josie and the Pussycats were a band, and the Archies were a band, now the Hardy Boys are a band. This is not as egregious as it could be because there are other books where the boys are into playing music, but man, this Bayport band formed quickly. I’m just sayin’.

What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: Building airplanes. Say what?! I mean, c’mon, play fair with the reader, willya? We get it. This is a plot about airplane parts, so you needed Chet to build an airplane. But he never showed interest in flying before, and he doesn’t remain interested afterward. I call shenanigans.

Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: No dessert for you!

Plot: A plane crashes upon approach to an airport, there is a plant with a tower that flickers flames, there is a nightclub called The Flickering Torch, basically this plot is whatever they needed it to be. This book is  known for its radical change from original version to this revised version. Mr. Buranelli wanted to show the boys being cool, so it’s folk rock to the rescue. Uh huh…

Review:  Has its moments, but this one is dated from its too-70s cover to the type of music they play to the way the audience reacts to the music to the ridiculous lengths the bad guys go to foil the Hardy Boys. And where was Jack Wayne in a story all about flying? But I give it an extra point for the end fate of Frank who is drugged and planned to be pushed out a plane into the ocean. Way to show hostility toward the characters, Mr. Author!

Score: 6

20: MYSTERY OF THE FLYING EXPRESS

20

Who Wrote It?: Franklin W. Dixon

C’mon, Who Really Wrote it?: John Button in 1941, the fourth of his five books in a row.

Was It Revised?: Yes, in 1970 by Vincent Buranelli, one of two he would revise, though he also wrote five of the later books entirely on his own..   

Cover: Back to Rudy Nappi.  Is there red and yellow?  Well, lots of red all right, but the only yellow is Joe’s hair.  This is the first of the abstract covers.  We have Frank and Joe in the foreground, the Flying Express in the background, a zodiac chart over the boat, and abstract red everywhere.

Setting: Bayport, and Providence, a long ferry ride away to the south.

Where’s Fenton This Time?: Up to his usual business, elsewhere most of the time, calling on Sam Radley to go back and forth as needed.  He shows up now and then.

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

What’s Chet’s Hobby This Time?: Horoscopes, as if the cover didn’t give it away.  Sorry, this hobby annoyed me.  We have no indication he has this interest before this book, and it’s completely dropped after this book.  This isn’t like picking up archaeology or oil painting.  You can believe someone might dabble with that for a while and then quit.  But astrology is a mindset.  Chet is so incredibly into this mindset in this book, it’s jarring that it gets dropped.  This is bad writing.  Forcing a character to take on something that makes no sense for him to take on.  Oh well, as Frank says in the book, “The solar system isn’t all that concerned about our doings here at Cape Cutlass.  Saturn is millions of miles away.  I doubt that it’s going to interfere with our little airplane.”  Amen, Frank.

Aunt Gertrude’s Dessert: “Big slices of rhubarb-and-strawberry pie.”  Yum!

Plot: Makes no sense.  The owner of the hydrofoil Flying Express wants to set up a ferry service between Bayport and Providence.  Competing businesses don’t want him to.  Attempted murder attempts follow repeatedly.  Wait, what?!  They can’t just offer a better ferry service, they have to try to KILL PEOPLE?  What nonsense.

Review:  Horoscopes everywhere, a plot that makes no sense, Joe says “groovy” at one point (holy ’60s, Batman!), I’m sorry this one is not for me.  At one point Chet takes an old dress (long story) and simply tosses it into the ocean!  I’m sorry, but in 1970 there was enough of an environmental awareness that this strikes me as a clunker of a move.  Hey, Chet, why are you polluting the ocean when there are garbage cans right over there?  Meh, this is my least favorite Hardy Boys book.

Score: 4