Franklin W Dixon - Shastrix Books

Franklin W Dixon

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The Stone Idol

The Stone Idol

Franklin W Dixon

31st July 2021

This early 1980s Hardy Boys novel sees the brothers hired to investigate the theft of a small state originating from Easter Island.

In many ways, it fits the mould of the series, with the boys going off on exotic travels, helping out their father, and adopting offensive amounts of disguise as natives from other cultures.

But in others it doesn't - there are elements here which feel quite unique and like the author has put in some effort to deliberately avoid hat have become liches of the series.

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The Mystery of Smugglers Cove

The Mystery of Smugglers Cove

Franklin W Dixon

4th July 2021

In a 1980s story with a title reminiscent of much earlier books in the Hardy Boys series, the brothers get to travel to Florida, investigating the theft of a valuable painting.

Unlike many of the books, this one focusses almost exclusively on the plot, with minimal mention of the characters’ lives outside that, to the extent of being one of the only books in which Chet doesn’t have a wild new hobby. This also has the side effect of making the narrative less problematic to a modern reader.

The plot however feels a bit messy - there seem to be three different things going on and they are all mashed together into one, similar to the two-plot situation in the previous novel, The Mummy Case, so maybe that will become a trend through the 80s novels to come.

That said, it was also more readable than some of the previous novels, and I had no problems digesting five chapters at a time, and the whole book over the course of a couple of days.

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Buy book: UK
The Mummy Case

The Mummy Case

Franklin W Dixon

31st May 2021

In their most international case yet, the Hardy brothers are hired by a New York museum to investigate some thefts and accompany a mummy across the Atlantic back to Egypt.

It’s an unusual Hardy Boys story not only because of the setup, but also in its structure and the number of different threads. It almost feels like the authors/publishers had two plot ideas, but neither had enough material, so they whacked them together into one book.

The usual dated elements persist, there’s content that would certainly be badged racist today, and the attitude toward’s Chet’s body continues to be a bit overplayed.

My copy has a number of illustrations which look like they’ve been through a photocopier multiple times before getting to me, as it’s a struggle to tell what’s happening in them. Not that I’ve ever really though that the occasional illustration has ever added anything to this series.

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Buy book: UK
The Apeman's Secret

The Apeman's Secret

Franklin W Dixon

2nd May 2021

This is possibly the first Hardy Boys story that I read as a child, though I don’t have any specific memory of that first encounter, just if this volume being an early one I came into possession of.

It’s also the first story of the 1980s, and as with the start of the 70s feels like a significant shift - with television and comic books playing a part in the story for the first time.

It’s a classic plot, with a decent mystery to investigate. But the narrative suffers from many of the dated aspects that repeat through the series and really stand out forty years later. There’s a range of body-shaming, sexism, classism, and ableism, together with the ‘if you’ve nothing to hide’ fallacy.

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Buy book: UK
The Pentagon Spy

The Pentagon Spy

Franklin W Dixon

17th April 2021

The third of the Hardy Boys Digests sees the brothers get caught up in a complex and serious case that their father is working on. In some respects, probably the most serious and high profile case of their career.

Simultaneously however they also have another case, the case of the stolen weathervanes, and I can’t believe they didn’t go with that as the title.

Joking apart, it actually feels like one of the most robust plots of the series so far, and I quite enjoyed the blend of history and the modern day.

However the book also has the usual problems, a bunch of body shaming, some bad politics, and the standard set of tropes that might be expected from the Hardy Boys.

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The Mystery of the Samurai Sword

The Mystery of the Samurai Sword

Franklin W Dixon

28th March 2021

The second novel from the digests era of the Hardy Boys sees the brothers working with their father to protect a visiting Japanese dignitary, when everything goes awry.

The plot is quite interesting - bringing in more elements of the classic mystery story than are in a lot, allowing me the reader to come up with a variety of ideas of how it might have been done before reaching the big reveal.

However there's also still a lot to date the text - including terminology used repeatedly which to a modern reader stands out as racist, sexist, or body-shaming.

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Night of the Werewolf

Night of the Werewolf

Franklin W Dixon

28th March 2021

The first of the Hardy Boys digests doesn’t seem to depart much from the adventures that came before. This time the brothers travel north to help investigate for a family who believes one of them may be a werewolf, which is one of the more outlandish suggestions they have faced but seems to be something that’s considered reasonably plausible.

Many of the standard elements are present, including a solid dose of dated racism, and a lot of weight shaming. The number of times that new characters recognise the boys’ names has now reached the level where the author has to be parodying the series and the publisher just hasn’t noticed.

The plot is a bit weak, quite confusing, and at one point made me crack up at how absurd a plot point was in not having been mentioned earlier.

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Other reviewed books

The Hardy Boys Detective Handbook
The Sting of the Scorpion
The Firebird Rocket
The Jungle Pyramid
The Witchmaster's Key
The Mysterious Caravan
The Clue of the Hissing Serpent
The Shattered Helmet
The Masked Monkey
Danger on Vampire Trail
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 Game Called Chaos
A Killing in the Market
A Will to Survive
Acting Up
Against All Odds
Attack of the Video Villains
Bad Chemistry
Beyond the Law
Blood Money
Blood Relations
Blood Sport
Blown Away
Brother Against Brother
Castle Fear
Cave Trap
Choke Hold
Clean Sweep
Cold Sweat
Collision Course
Competitive Edge
Countdown to Terror
Crime in the Kennel
Crusade of the Flaming Sword
Cult of Crime
Danger in the Extreme
Danger in the Fourth Dimension
Danger on the Air
Danger on the Diamond
Danger Zone
Darkness Falls
Dead on Target
Deep Trouble
Diplomatic Deceit
Dirty Deeds
Disaster for Hire
Double Exposure
Double Jeopardy
Edge of Destruction
Endangered Species
Evil Incorporated
Eye on Crime
False Alarm
Final Cut
Final Gambit
Flesh and Blood
Flight into Danger
Foul Play
Fright Wave
Game Plan For Disaster
Grave Danger
Height of Danger
Hidden Mountain
Hide and Sneak
High-Speed Showdown
Highway Robbery
Hostages of Hate
In Plane Sight
Lethal Cargo
Line of Fire
Lost in Gator Swamp
Martial Law
Maximum Challenge
Mayhem in Motion
Moment of Truth
Motocross Madness
Murder at the Mall
No Mercy
Nowhere To Run
One False Step
Open Season
Passport to Danger
Peak of Danger
Perfect Getaway
Power Play
Programme for Destruction
Real Horror
Revenge of the Desert Phantom
Rigged for Revenge
Rock 'n' Revenge
Rock 'n' Roll Renegades
Rough Riding
Running on Empty
Sabotage at Sea
Scene of the Crime
See No Evil
Sidetracked to Danger
Skin and Bones
Sky High
Sky Sabotage
Slam Dunk Sabotage
Speed Times Five
Strategic Moves
Street Spies
Stress Point
Survival Run
Terror on Track
The Alaskan Adventure
The Baseball Card Conspiracy
The Billion Dollar Ransom
The Blackwing Puzzle
The Borderline Case
The Borgia Dagger
The Caribbean Cruise Caper
The Case of the Counterfeit Criminals
The Castle Conundrum
The Chase for the Mystery Twister
The Cold Cash Caper
The Crimson Flame
The Crisscross Crime
The Crowning Terror
The Dangerous Transmission
The Dead Season
The Demolition Mission
The Desert Thieves
The Emperor's Shield
The End of the Trail
The Four-Headed Dragon
The Genius Thieves
The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew meet Dracula and other stories
The Hypersonic Secret
The Ice Cold Case
The Infinity Clue
The Last Laugh
The Last Leap
The Lazarus Plot
The Lure of the Italian Treasure
The Million-Dollar Nightmare
The Mystery of the Black Rhino
The Mystery of the Silver Star
The Number File
The Outlaw's Silver
The Phoenix Equation
The Roaring River Mystery
The Search for the Snow Leopard
The Secret of Sigma Seven
The Secret of Skeleton Reef
The Secret of the Island Treasure
The Secret of the Soldier's Gold
The Sky Blue Frame
The Skyfire Puzzle
The Smoke Screen Mystery
The Submarine Caper
The Tic-Tac Terror
The Vanishing Thieves
The Viking's Revenge
The Voodoo Plot
Thick as Thieves
Too Many Traitors
Toxic Revenge
Track of the Zombie
Training for Trouble
Trapped at Sea
Trial and Terror
Trouble in the Pipeline
True Thriller
Typhoon Island
Uncivil War
Warehouse Rumble
Web of Horror
Without a Trace
Witness to Murder
Wreck and Roll

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