Thursday, February 19, 2015

Power Boys #1 The Mystery of the Haunted Skyscraper

In the Power Boys #1, The Haunted Skyscraper, Mr. Power and his two teenage sons, Jack and Chip, arrive at their sublet apartment.  As soon as they arrive, a boy asks for their help with a mystery, thinking that Mr. Power is the private detective who owns the apartment.  Once the boy leaves, Mrs. Marsh arrives, wanting help with the poltergeists in her apartment.  Mr. Power has to travel to California to photograph a fire, leaving the boys alone in the apartment.  They decide to work on both mysteries.

This book is full of great lines.  On pages 27 and 28, the boys are threatened by a man whose face looks like a "grotesque mask."  Chip decides that the man must be the poltergeist.  Jack asks him why he would be involved in something like that, and Chip replies, "With a face like his, does he need a motive?" 

On page 32, Jack wants to be cautious before the boys get themselves in trouble.  Chip parries with "Why wait?  A mess is a mess no matter when you get into it."

We are told on page 38 that teenagers who have problems with aggression can often act out their aggression in the form of poltergeist activity.  This is presented as fact.  Somehow, I don't think that kind of statement would have made it into a Grosset and Dunlap book.

The cover art of this book makes the boys seem very young.  Jack is 17, and I'm guessing that Chip isn't much younger.  The cover shows two boys who look to be middle school age or younger.  The cover shows the red-haired boy as smaller, yet Jack has red hair and is the one who is older and taller.  The cover art does depict the boys accurately by how mature they act in the stories.  The boys come across as bratty and immature.

The boys quarrel constantly.  It's really a bit odd and unnecessary.  Here's an example from page 163.
"We still don't know," Chip said, "how we're going to get by that watchman."

"He can't be everyplace at once," Jack said irritably.  "I thought I told you that."

"He seemed like a lively character, that's all I know."
They talk like that to each other during the entire book, almost never getting along.

On page 67, the boys are amazed to see Indians on the construction job.  Oh, wow.  Seeing an Indian must be even more bizarre than seeing a horde of Centrovians in River Heights.  Boys, there are Indians in North America.  Get a grip.  They won't hurt you.

Later, Chip again expresses amazement about the Indians, and Jack informs him that Indians are suited for construction work.  The Indians get mentioned yet again, and this time we learn that the Indians are the only ones who will work at the top of the skyscraper because they are not afraid of heights.  While true that Indians traditionally worked on skyscrapers, the part about them not being afraid is a myth.

This is a quick and easy book to read, simplistic and nothing special.  I wish that the story had greater detail.  Near the end of the book, the boys were on the top of the skyscraper after dark in a thunderstorm.  It was not until after I finished the book that I realized how truly scary that situation could have been.  It was a little scary, but the author wrote the scene in a non-descriptive straightforward fashion that expressed little feeling.  Even though the book could have been written better, I found it interesting and enjoyed it enough to continue to the second book in the series.


Claudia MB said...

I love the quote about teenage aggression causing poltergeist activity!!!

BTW, I made a copy of this book into a tablet case:

I'll include a link there to your summary, so people can learn about the boys!

Chris Palmerini said...

I picked up all the original art for the first book “The Haunted Skyscraper” plus the original manuscript ! The authors real name is Willian Manners who was a prolific writer. The original name of the brothers was Jack and Chip Victor which is crossed out throughout the manuscript.