Childrens - Shastrix Books


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Go Ahead, Secret Seven

Go Ahead, Secret Seven

Enid Blyton

17th April 2021

Book five, and we’re a third of the way into Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven series. This time out the seven are split up after one of their number is caught practicing tailing a suspect.

The stories are all still quite cute, but this does continue the sexism that feels very dated to a modern reader, with the three female members of the team being left out of most of the adventure.

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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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Buy book: UK
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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The Firebird Rocket

The Firebird Rocket

Franklin W Dixon & Vincent Buranelli

23rd January 2021

It’s the end of the 1970s for the Hardy Boys and the fifty year old teenagers are now solidly in a technology age as their case this time visits Australia and involves space rockets and nuclear reactors.

However the classic elements are still there - Chet and his hobbies, the two parallel cases, the involvement of the boys’ father, and constantly getting beaten up by the baddies.

There was only the briefest moment of racism, which feels like the writers and editors might almost have got their head into a more modern mindset by this point, and I hope as we head forward in the re-read to the 80s and a change of publisher that this will disappear entirely.

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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 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

Other reviewed books

The Secret Agent on Flight 101
The Viking Symbol Mystery
The Mystery of the Desert Giant
The Mystery of the Coughing Dragon
Jennings Unlimited
The Mystery of the Chinese Junk
Secret Seven on the Trail
The Mystery at Devil's Paw
Well Done, Secret Seven
The Ghost at Skeleton Rock
Secret Seven Adventure
The Clue in the Embers
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The Secret Seven
The Hooded Hawk Mystery
The Yellow Feather Mystery
The Mystery of Banshee Towers
The Secret of Wildcat Swamp
The Wailing Siren Mystery
The Mystery of Holly Lane
The Mystery of the Strange Messages
The Short-Wave Mystery
The Mystery of the Missing Man
The Secret of the Crooked Cat
The Clue of the Broken Blade
Five Children and It
Especially Jennings
Brigands M.C.
The Mystery of the Laughing Shadow
The Disappearing Floor
The Mystery of Tally-Ho Cottage
Jennings of Course
The Twisted Claw
The Falls
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
The Mystery of the Talking Skull
The General
The Mystery of the Moaning Cave
The Mystery of the Strange Bundle
The Sleepwalker
The Mystery of the Screaming Clock
The Mystery of the Vanished Prince
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Mad Dogs
The Tower Treasure
The Mystery of the Silver Spider
The Mystery of the Invisible Thief
The Fall
Don't Touch Anything
The Mystery of the Fiery Eye
Crocodile Tears
Man vs Beast
The Mystery of the Pantomime Cat
The Secret of Skeleton Island
The Wide Window
Divine Madness
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
The Mystery of the Hidden House
The Accused
The Mystery of the Vanishing Treasure
The Reptile Room
Ark Angel
The Rithmatist
The Mystery of the Missing Necklace
The Field Guide
Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief
The Mystery of the Green Ghost
Coots in the North and other stories
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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
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The Picts and the Martyrs
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Point Blanc
The Recruit
The World of Poo
The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage
Missee Lee
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Just Like Jennings
Catching Fire
The Big Six
The Trouble with Jennings
The Hunger Games
Secret Water
The Bad Beginning
We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea
Pigeon Post
The Song of the Quarkbeast
Coot Club
Winter Holiday
Jennings as Usual
Peter Duck
Take Jennings for Instance
Thanks to Jennings
Swallows and Amazons
Our Friend Jennings
The Last Dragonslayer
According to Jennings
Jennings' Diary
Jennings and Darbishire
Jennings' Little Hut
Jennings Follows a Clue
Jennings Goes to School
Artemis Fowl

Unreviewed books

A Killing in the Market
Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens
An Ear for Danger
Beyond the Law
Biggles - Flying Detective
Biggles and the Black Peril
Biggles and the Secret Mission
Biggles Defends the Desert
Biggles Defies the Swastika
Biggles Delivers the Goods
Biggles Fails to Return
Biggles Flies East
Biggles Flies West
Biggles Goes to War
Biggles in France
Biggles in the Orient
Biggles Learns to Fly
Blood Fever
Blood Relations
Brother Against Brother
By Royal Command
Castle Fear
Choke Hold
Cold Sweat
Countdown to Terror
Crime in the Kennel
Crusade of the Flaming Sword
Cult of Crime
Dangerous Games
Dead on Target
Deep Trouble
Diplomatic Deceit
Dirty Deeds
Disaster for Hire
Double or Die
Edge of Destruction
Endangered Species
Evil Incorporated
Fatal Error
Final Cut
Final Gambit
Flesh and Blood
Flight into Danger
Foul Play
Foul Play
Fright Wave
Fun for the Secret Seven
Funny Business
Good Old Secret Seven
Good Work, Secret Seven
Grave Danger
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
High-Speed Showdown
Hollywood Horror
Hostages of Hate
Hot Wheels
Hurricane Gold
James and the Giant Peach
Jennings Again
Jennings at Large
Jennings in Particular
Lethal Cargo
Long Shot
Look Out Secret Seven
Mariel of Redwall
Martial Law
Martin the Warrior
Maximum Challenge
Murder at the Mall
Murder to Go
No Mercy
Open Season
Outcast of Redwall
Pearls of Lutra
Perfect Getaway
Power Play
Programme for Destruction
Puzzle for the Secret Seven
Reel Trouble
Rigged for Revenge
Rock 'n' Revenge
Rough Stuff
Scene of the Crime
Secret Seven Fireworks
Secret Seven Mystery
Secret Seven Win Through
See No Evil
Seven Strange and Ghostly Tales
Shock for the Secret Seven
Sidetracked to Danger
Sky Sabotage
Slam Dunk Sabotage
Speaking of Jennings
Still William
Swallows and Amazons for Ever!
Terror on Track
The Alaskan Adventure
The Apeman's Secret
The Bellmaker
The Blackwing Puzzle
The Borgia Dagger
The Camels are Coming
The Cold Cash Caper
The Crowning Terror
The Crystal Prison
The Dead Season
The Final Reckoning
The Genius Thieves
The Hypersonic Secret
The Jennings Report
The Last Laugh
The Last Leap
The Lazarus Plot
The Long Patrol
The Midnight Folk
The Mummy Case
The Mystery of Death Trap Mine
The Mystery of Monster Mountain
The Mystery of Smugglers Cove
The Mystery of the Cranky Collector
The Mystery of the Dead Man's Riddle
The Mystery of the Flaming Footprints
The Mystery of the Headless Horse
The Mystery of the Invisible Dog
The Mystery of the Kidnapped Whale
The Mystery of the Magic Circle
The Mystery of the Missing Mermaid
The Mystery of the Nervous Lion
The Mystery of the Purple Pirate
The Mystery of the Rogues' Reunion
The Mystery of the Scar-Faced Beggar
The Mystery of the Shrinking House
The Mystery of the Silver Star
The Mystery of the Singing Serpent
The Mystery of the Sinister Scarecrow
The Mystery of the Smashing Glass
The Mystery of the Trail of Terror
The Mystery of the Two-Toed Pigeon
The Mystery of the Wandering Cave Man
The Number File
The Oaken Throne
The Outlaw's Silver
The Phoenix Equation
The Search for the Snow Leopard
The Secret of Phantom Lake
The Secret of the Haunted Mirror
The Seven and the Lion Hunt
The Seven and the Magician
The Seven and the UFOs
The Seven Strike Gold
The Seven to the Rescue
The Sky Blue Frame
The Stone Idol
The Vanishing Thieves
Thick as Thieves
Three Cheers, Secret Seven
Trust Jennings
Typically Jennings
Uncivil War
Web of Horror
Without a Trace
Witness to Murder

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