The Tower Treasure
On the trail of hidden treasure recently stolen from Tower Mansion, Joe and Frank Hardy have little to go on, only a few words whispered by a dying man.
Reviewed on 21st September 2014
I recently discovered that the UK publisher's order numbering on the Hardy Boys novels that I read voraciously as a child was completely fictional compared to the order they were originally published in. The Tower Treasure had been labelled '31', but is in fact the first book in the series, and reading it again today (some twenty years later), it definitely comes across as being an introduction to the characters, their world, and indeed being their first adventure.
I'm still reading a UK paperback edition from the 1970s, and I'm aware this isn't the original text - most of the books being 'updated' in the 1950s, and this one being adapted for the British reader from the original US English. It's not just the spellings that seem to have been changed, but the language used too - I'm suspicious of 'Welsh Rarebit' for example (though haven't got a copy of the 'original' text to compare).
It introduces the characters with broad strokes - there's not a lot dropped in to differentiate Frank and Joe after the first chapter, where one is shown as being slightly more reserved than the other, but I was surprised by how many of the recurring characters make appearances in this first story.
The adventure itself is quite simplistic, and there are places where it felt that the author had tried to keep things a little too realistic, with the Hardy Boys themselves not being present for a big part of the action - they, and we the readers, only hear about it second-hand. It didn't quite go how I vaguely remembered, with there being at least one scene which looked like it was setting something up that later turned out just to be there to add a coincidence that helped the plot along.
Overall though I felt it still held up as an adventure story, perhaps nowadays for a younger audience than originally intended, and it was an interesting diversion to revisit the brothers for an hour or so.