Franklin W Dixon - Shastrix Books

Franklin W Dixon

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The Ghost at Skeleton Rock

The Ghost at Skeleton Rock

Franklin W Dixon, James D Lawrence & Priscilla Baker-Carr

24th July 2020

Deep into the original run of the Hardy Boys novels, Skeleton Rock starts well - with a classic new hobby for Chet, a hometown mystery, and a collection of surprising family-owned vehicles.

But later on it falls down a bit, as the brothers head off someone remote, and get involved with yet another group of indiginous people to represent in a stereotypical and offensive way.

A mediocre entry in the series.

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The Secret of Pirates' Hill

The Secret of Pirates' Hill

Franklin W Dixon, John Almquist & Priscilla Baker-Carr

27th June 2020

The Secret of Pirates Hill feels like one of those novels where they kept the title, but in the 1960s rewrite replaced the bulk of the plot - because the hill itself feels far from the primary focus.

It’s a classic mystery for the Hardy Boys in some respects - a puzzle is brought to them by a random, they investigate around town, get roughed up a bit, learn a tiny bit about an entirely random topic, get a bit racist, and save the day.

I’ll admit that I don’t think I followed entirely some of the plot - there seemed to be some leaps in deduction that I missed, and some of the guest characters failed to be sufficiently distinct for me to work out which was which from chapter to chapter.

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Buy book: UK
The Clue in the Embers

The Clue in the Embers

Franklin W Dixon, John Almquist & Priscilla Baker-Carr

8th June 2020

This is one of those Hardy Boys stories that I know I had a child, because my copy has my name in the front in shaky youthful handwriting - and yet I didn’t remember it at all.

It seemed to start fairly well - a friend’s interesting inheritance that somebody wanted to buy on the quiet, and a story of potentially valuable medallions. And yet then it descended into some of the most absurd racism of the series so far.

I don’t really want to go into the detail because that’s spoilers, but suffice to say the boys break all sense of realism in their attempts at disguise, which is not only ridiculous but clearly offensive, while also trampling all over indigenous cultures and participating in a particularly notable act of profiling.

It was a bad week for racism when I re-read this novel, but I don’t think that made it stand out any more than it would have. It’s particularly surprising how these editions which are meant to have been rewritten in the 1960s to remove the racism have ended up still being so bad.

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Buy book: UK
The Hooded Hawk Mystery

The Hooded Hawk Mystery

Franklin W Dixon, Charles Strong & Priscilla Baker-Carr

24th May 2020

I’ve been rapidly making my way through the Hardy Boys original series during lockdown, and this one seemed like a solid entry.

The boys are mysteriously gifted a Peregrine Falcon, and of course find a way to make use of it to solve a mystery. It’s interesting that its them that gets a new hobby, as that has traditionally been the role of Chet through the series so far.

It’s much more of the classic vein, and partly that’s probably true in my head because it’s one that I read as a child - but it’s based in Bayport, involves lots of the common elements, and feels slightly educational too.

There are a couple of aspects that are a bit dated and likely wouldn’t be included in a novel aimed at the same target audience today, particularly around animals and hunting. There’s also some dated language that today would be correctly interpreted as racism - if not for the fact that the terms in question have died out and so many readers wouldn’t even understand what they meant.

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The Yellow Feather Mystery

The Yellow Feather Mystery

Franklin W Dixon, William Dougherty & Priscilla Baker-Carr

3rd May 2020

The Yellow Feature Mystery sticks in my head as one of those classic Hardy Boys titles. I must have read it in the listings hundreds of times as a child - and yet it wasn't one of the books I'd read, or which formed part of my collection. Until now.

The mystery begins when the teenage detectives are approached by a college student and asked to find his grandfather's will - which he believes will leave an entire school to him.

It actually proceeds to become a classic Hardy Boys story - with lots of sleuthing, solar plexus jabs, and suspects and friends all over the place. This all came as a pleasant surprise as preceeding entries in the series had become weaker and repetetive.

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The Crisscross Shadow

The Crisscross Shadow

Franklin W Dixon

1st May 2020

Continuing with my chronological re-read of the original Hardy Boys series, I came to this. I know it’s one I read as a child, as it’s got my name written in the front in wobbly young handwriting, but I didn’t find myself remembering much of the story, so it can’t have been one of my favourites.

It started well, with the Hardy’s organically drawn into a mystery free of some of the recent coincidence-heavy plotting, but then it moved back onto the going-on-holiday trope that’s been prevalent in too many of the books in this part of the series.

Overall though, pretty average - some dated references, but fairly well balanced I though with the characters expectations being upturned.

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The Secret of Wildcat Swamp

The Secret of Wildcat Swamp

Franklin W Dixon, William Dougherty & Priscilla Baker-Carr

25th April 2020

The ‘Hardy Boys Go On Holiday’ part of the series continues with this trip to the countryside to help someone find fossils in a swamp.

I’m again surprised at the prevalence of firearms - this wasn’t a feature of the books I remember from reading in childhood, and yet here Joe in particularly is totally happy wielding a gun. I’m don’t find this comfortable reading any more, although perhaps for the expected audience some fifty years ago that was an entirely normal experience.

I feel like the books have by this point hit upon a formula and they are sticking too closely to it. Every plot now has become the same, and the reliance of the coincidence as the Boys’ case and their father’s come together is breaking my ability to suspend disbelief.

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Buy book: UK

Other reviewed books

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
Cold Sweat
Competitive Edge
Countdown to Terror
Crime in the Kennel
Crusade of the Flaming Sword
Cult of Crime
Danger on Vampire Trail
Dead on Target
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
Mystery of the Whale Tattoo
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
Terror on Track
The Alaskan Adventure
The Apeman's Secret
The Arctic Patrol Mystery
The Blackwing Puzzle
The Bombay Boomerang
The Borgia Dagger
The Clue of the Hissing Serpent
The Clue of the Screeching Owl
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 Haunted Fort
The Hypersonic Secret
The Jungle Pyramid
The Last Laugh
The Last Leap
The Lazarus Plot
The Masked Monkey
The Mummy Case
The Mysterious Caravan
The Mystery at Devil's Paw
The Mystery of Smugglers Cove
The Mystery of the Aztec Warrior
The Mystery of the Chinese Junk
The Mystery of the Desert Giant
The Mystery of the Samurai Sword
The Mystery of the Silver Star
The Mystery of the Spiral Bridge
The Number File
The Outlaw's Silver
The Pentagon Spy
The Phoenix Equation
The Search for the Snow Leopard
The Secret Agent on Flight 101
The Shattered Helmet
The Sky Blue Frame
The Sting of the Scorpion
The Stone Idol
The Vanishing Thieves
The Viking Symbol Mystery
Thick as Thieves
Uncivil War
Web of Horror
Without a Trace
Witness to Murder

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