Franklin W Dixon - Shastrix Books

Franklin W Dixon

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The Jungle Pyramid

The Jungle Pyramid

Franklin W Dixon & Vincent Buranelli

9th January 2021

After their father calls them in to help investigate a gold theft, the Hardys once again set off on international travels to solve their fifty-sixth mystery.

The format follows the now familiar pattern of the 70s novels, with exotic locales and exploration playing a large role in the storytelling and much investigation taking a back seat.

As they go, not a bad story, but not a particularly remarkable one either.

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The Witchmaster's Key

The Witchmaster's Key

Franklin W Dixon

3rd January 2021

This fifty-fifth book in the series is possibly the most absurd so far. The Hardys travel to the British Isles for an adventure that despite being set in the 1970s seems to depict a society from the 1770s.

I had just been saying in a review from a previous book in the series how amazingly informative it seemed about the countries they were visiting, and I really have to reconsider now that I’ve seen their attempt to depict a location I actually know something about.

The plot is implausibly silly, and really doesn’t hold up at all. The cover art on my copy is also ridiculous, with the least realistic illustration of Stonehenge I think I’ve ever seen - it’s like someone has been given a vague description and not bothered to look at a photograph.

Probably the worst plot in the entire series that I’ve read so far.

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The Mysterious Caravan

The Mysterious Caravan

Franklin W Dixon

2nd January 2021

A remarkable entry in the Hardy Boys series, as with book 54 arrives the first black character who joins the brothers as a friend and assistant throughout. It also features the first female character to also accompany them for part of the story, rather than just being someone to provide them with food.

The plot however follows the trend in previous novels of becoming rather convoluted, and feels like it’s just become a backdrop to the international travel that the characters now get to do.

In this way it reminds me a bit of James Bond films, which are clearly constructed around the locations around the world that they think will make good settings. But the storytelling doesn’t bring itself to the same level.

The travel aspects however do feel impressive and fairly thoroughly researched (although I have no specific knowledge to back this up), which does well to present the places visited in a way that feels authentic and only a tiny bit racist in places.

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The Clue of the Hissing Serpent

The Clue of the Hissing Serpent

Franklin W Dixon

31st December 2020

As we near the end of the original series of Hardy Boys novels, we find them following Chet as he takes up another hobby - ballooning.

This is a mix of the classic style - maybe the first half retaining the local mystery aspect - and the newer style of global travel that the series adopted in the 1970s.

Unfortunately it’s the second half that brings it down, particularly a rushed ending and what had to be the lowest moment in the series so far where the boys commit their own shocking offence and then brush it off in a way that I totally couldn’t as a reader. I am actually disturbed that they were able to go that far.

So extremely mixed results - good start, poor end.

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The Shattered Helmet

The Shattered Helmet

Franklin W Dixon

30th December 2020

Book fifty-two is somewhere between the earlier “Hardy Holiday” novels and the more recent more international novels. This time the brothers (and Chet) are off to a film school for the summer, but of course become embroiled in a weird race to find an ancient helmet.

Lots of travel has become a cornerstone of the series in the 1970s, and here again there is a lot of movement which feels very glamorous and makes one wonder how the Hardy family are funded - given five family members and at least two full-time employees seem to be living off Fenton’s private detective income.

I enjoyed the different set-up with the film school though - moving the characters into a totally new environment led to some interesting interactions, although I did feel that Chet was underused and seems to have been relegated back to comic relief rather than assistant investigator.

Generally a good adventure, although possibly by the end doesn’t add up into the most solid plot.

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The Masked Monkey

The Masked Monkey

Franklin W Dixon & Vincent Buranelli

30th December 2020

The Masked Monkey, the fifty-first of the Hardy Boys novels, feels a bit like a reversion to before the more modern take in the novels that preceded it. The brothers are dispatched by their father to search for a missing person, and the plot quickly gets weird.

The plot is overly convoluted and involves travelling around and fighting a lot, with little by way of investigation and much overheating of information. Many elements seem less plausible than usual, and like the previous novel I’m left not really clear what was going on.

One thing I have liked is how much more the boys’ friends have been involved in recent adventures, with Biff and Tony seeming promoted to co-investigator status along with Chet, and Chet himself getting an expanded role, although coupled with increased fat-shaming. Chet’s random hobbies have always been one of my favourite recurring aspects of the series and it’s good fun when they contribute meaningfully to the plot.

Overall though probably not one that I’d recommend - there are books in the series that are easier to follow.

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Buy book: UK
Danger on Vampire Trail

Danger on Vampire Trail

Franklin W Dixon

30th December 2020

The title to this fiftieth Hardy Boys novel doesn’t feel very in keeping with the usual storylines, but it seems to just be a gimmick, as the plot is fairly traditional.

The Hardy’s and friends are given a new mission to investigate credit card fraud - which feels like it would have been a fairly new type of crime in the US in the early 1970s.

The problem with this book is that there’s too much going on for it all to tie together into a nicely followable storyline. There are three or four different threads which feel like they are being dragged together rather than neatly joining into a pattern, and it didn’t feel like the overall resolution was anything but coincidence driven.

So while it was interesting to experience a new adventure for the characters, I don’t think this was one of the best.

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Other reviewed books

The Bombay Boomerang
The Arctic Patrol Mystery
The Mystery of the Whale Tattoo
The Secret Agent on Flight 101
The Mystery of the Spiral Bridge
The Haunted Fort
The Mystery of the Aztec Warrior
The Viking Symbol Mystery
The Clue of the Screeching Owl
The Mystery of the Desert Giant
The Mystery of the Chinese Junk
The Mystery at Devil's Paw
The Ghost at Skeleton Rock
The Secret of Pirates' Hill
The Clue in the Embers
The Hooded Hawk Mystery
The Yellow Feather Mystery
The Crisscross Shadow
The Secret of Wildcat Swamp
The Wailing Siren Mystery
The Secret of the Lost Tunnel
The Sign of the Crooked Arrow
The Secret of Skull Mountain
The Phantom Freighter
The Secret Panel
The Short-Wave Mystery
The Mystery of the Melted Coins
The Flickering Torch Mystery
The Clue of the Broken Blade
The Mystery of the Flying Express
The Disappearing Floor
The Twisted Claw
The Secret Warning
A Figure in Hiding
The Sinister Signpost
The Hidden Harbour Mystery
The Mark on the Door
Footprints Under the Window
While the Clock Ticked
What Happened At Midnight
The Great Airport Mystery
The Mystery of Cabin Island
The Secret of the Caves
The Shore Road Mystery
Hunting for Hidden Gold
The Missing Chums
The Secret of the Old Mill
The House on the Cliff
The Tower Treasure

Unreviewed books

A Killing in the Market
Acting Up
Bad Chemistry
Beyond the Law
Blood Relations
Blood Sport
Blown Away
Brother Against Brother
Castle Fear
Cave Trap
Choke Hold
Clean Sweep
Cliffhanger
Cold Sweat
Competitive Edge
Countdown to Terror
Crime in the Kennel
Crusade of the Flaming Sword
Cult of Crime
Dead on Target
Deadfall
Deathgame
Deep Trouble
Diplomatic Deceit
Dirty Deeds
Disaster for Hire
Edge of Destruction
Endangered Species
Evil Incorporated
Final Cut
Final Gambit
Flesh and Blood
Flight into Danger
Foul Play
Fright Wave
Grave Danger
High-Speed Showdown
Hostages of Hate
Lethal Cargo
Martial Law
Maximum Challenge
Mayhem in Motion
Moment of Truth
Murder at the Mall
Night of the Werewolf
No Mercy
Open Season
Perfect Getaway
Power Play
Programme for Destruction
Rigged for Revenge
Rock 'n' Revenge
Rough Riding
Scene of the Crime
See No Evil
Sidetracked to Danger
Sky High
Sky Sabotage
Slam Dunk Sabotage
Spiked!
Terror on Track
The Alaskan Adventure
The Apeman's Secret
The Blackwing Puzzle
The Borgia Dagger
The Cold Cash Caper
The Crowning Terror
The Dead Season
The Firebird Rocket
The Genius Thieves
The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew meet Dracula and other stories
The Hardy Boys Detective Handbook
The Hypersonic Secret
The Last Laugh
The Last Leap
The Lazarus Plot
The Mummy Case
The Mystery of Smugglers Cove
The Mystery of the Samurai Sword
The Mystery of the Silver Star
The Number File
The Outlaw's Silver
The Pentagon Spy
The Phoenix Equation
The Search for the Snow Leopard
The Sky Blue Frame
The Sting of the Scorpion
The Stone Idol
The Vanishing Thieves
Thick as Thieves
Uncivil War
Web of Horror
Without a Trace
Witness to Murder

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