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The Arctic Patrol Mystery

The Arctic Patrol Mystery

Franklin W Dixon & Andrew E Svenson

27th December 2020

It’s the end of the 1960s for the Hardy Boys and this cements the idea that the series has taken a change in direction - as the space age is upon them, as well as the age of proper international air travel.

The level of peril is again heightened as the detective brothers travel to Iceland to help their father with a couple of very secret cases. This is probably the best version of the Hardy’s go on holiday trope so far - the author takes a lot of effort to depict Iceland with realism.

The dated elements of previous novels have been much toned down. There is a slightly expanded role for some of the female characters, and they are finally described explicitly rather than euphemistically as the boys girlfriends, and the treatment of the people of Iceland is respectful. Obviously it is still a fifty year old work and so aspects still feel old fashioned, but less so.

A good adventure, and it seems clear why the UK publishers would have chosen to release it early as book two in their numbering system.

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The Mystery of the Whale Tattoo

The Mystery of the Whale Tattoo

Franklin W Dixon & Jerrold Mundis

26th December 2020

The forty-seventh Hardy Boys novel sees the brothers get involved in one of their father’s cases related to an ivory theft, while simultaneously and unconnectedly their friends go into the whale business.

This is something of a return to the norm for the series, which had been seemingly in an experimental phase in the previous two books. The plot follows the normal pattern and the boys use their unlimited aeroplane access to solve the mystery.

Unfortunately this book has chosen to focus on subject matter that I’m surprised wasn’t already a delicate area when it was published. Whale hunting is described in an entirely uncritical way, and Chet has become involved in what would now be considered at best a controversial hobby. This couples with the now seemingly ever-present classist attitudes of the main cast to make the book feel quite dated.

So a bit uncomfortable and a bit silly.

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The Mystery of the Spiral Bridge

The Mystery of the Spiral Bridge

Franklin W Dixon & Andrew E Svenson

24th December 2020

Book forty-five of the original Hardy Boys series finds disaster as the boys’ father is returned injured from a case helping one of their friends’ dads, who is trying to build a bridge.

It’s more violent than a lot of the earlier books - and the gang feels more competent, better motivated, and more realistic than some that the team have met before. It’s definitely taking an edgier tone with the level of peril.

The characters almost seem like they are having the mickey taken out of them by the author. There’s a whole thing about them attempting to use criminal slang, which is comically terrible, but feels again quite different from the norm. Similarly the brothers are presented as particularly classist, looking down on pretty much everyone they meet from a different background to them - including New Yorkers, rural residents, and the working classes.

An interesting diversion from the baseline of the series.

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Buy book: UK
The Haunted Fort

The Haunted Fort

Franklin W Dixon & David Grambs

24th December 2020

The forty-fourth Hardy Boys story is again one that I read as a child but have no memory of. This time the boys, along with their ever-present friend Chet, go to visit Chet’s uncle at an art school on the trail of treasure.

Plot wise it’s quite good - there’s a lot going on and a lot feels like the detectives are doing some detecting for once. But they still don’t seem to properly do mystery solving, it feels very much like at this point in the 1960s they just bumble through and conveniently stumble upon exactly what they are after.

The dated nature of the stories - again the female characters are limited to flirting and crying - is made even more notable by a couple of weird moments of Confederate glorification, which I’m sure wouldn’t be left unaddressed in a work written today.

So mixed feelings about this one.

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The Mystery of the Aztec Warrior

The Mystery of the Aztec Warrior

Franklin W Dixon & Harriet S Adams

22nd December 2020

The forty-third novel in the original Hardy Boys series was marketed in the UK as book one - and so every time I’ve read this before (as a child without Wikipedia) I had assumed it to be the first book.

Reading it now, in the correct place in the publication order, it feels like it makes more sense here. The plot, taking the boys and Chet to Mexico (again) fit much more with a late series entry (indeed there’s been too much of them going on holiday throughout the middle of the series) than an introductory one.

It was interesting to note that this time the boys do have to comply with immigration rules, unlike two of their other recent international trips. However there remain dated narrative elements in the presentation of Mexican culture and people, and the way they place Americans on a pedestal, that feels like an unrealistic view of the world when the book was written as much as it would be today.

I remembered nothing of this book from my earlier readings, although there is one very minor fact that it gives which I realise I must have acquired from reading it years ago and internalised without source attribution. Overall probably one of the better adventures, though not at the top.

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The Clue of the Screeching Owl

The Clue of the Screeching Owl

Franklin W Dixon & James Buechler

19th December 2020

The fourty-first Hardy Boys adventure once again sees them, with Chet in tow, off on holiday to help their father out with a case.

The plot seems relatively solid, though there's a large amount that is just the boys going along with events - they rarely seem to do any actual deduction, and rely on a lot of coincidence.

The usual racism typical of the time of writing makes a subtle appearance, as does one particularly blatant momet of sexism in the narrative. On the other hand though there is a healthy anti-ableism message in this entry in the series.

Overall a pretty standard entry in the series, though probably one of the more forgettable stories - I've certainly read it before and remembered exactly nothing.

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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

Other reviewed books

The Crisscross Shadow
The Sign of the Crooked Arrow
The Phantom Freighter
The Mystery of the Melted Coins
The Secret Warning
A Figure in Hiding
The Sinister Signpost
Footprints Under the Window
While the Clock Ticked
The Great Airport Mystery
The Secret of the Caves
The Shore Road Mystery
Hunting for Hidden Gold
The Secret of the Old Mill

Unreviewed books

Acting Up
Bad Chemistry
Blood Sport
Blown Away
Cave Trap
Clean Sweep
Cliffhanger
Competitive Edge
Mayhem in Motion
Moment of Truth
Rough Riding
Sky High

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