Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Power Boys #5 Double Kidnapping and #6 Vanishing Lady

In the Power Boys #5, The Mystery of the Double Kidnapping, Mr. Power and the boys are in New York City.  Jack just happens to look like the son of a millionaire and gets kidnapped and held for ransom by accident.  Jack escapes, but in the meantime, Chip gets into trouble with one of the crooks and gets kidnapped.

Page 29 has a good example of how descriptive the Power Boys books are.
Outside, the sun burned down.  It was hot.  The weatherman had predicted rain by evening, but it did not look like rain now.  The sky was clear and the sun was a ball of fire.  Blaze strained at the leash as they walked easterly.

The streets were quiet and deserted.
I almost feel like I'm learning how to read.

From page 143:
Jack burst into laughter, then shrugged.  Chip had been through a terrific ordeal.  Why argue?
Thank you so much.  Unfortunately, the boys have a mild argument by the very next page.  Sigh.

I enjoyed this book at least as much as the third book, The Mystery of the Burning Ocean.  As with that book, it could have been written better but is a good story.

In the Power Boys #6, The Mystery of the Vanishing Lady, Jack and Chip become acquainted with elderly Mrs. Brockton when Mr. Power takes her portrait.  The next day, Jack and Chip go to Mrs. Brockton's home to deliver the proofs.  As soon as Jack enters the home, the lights are switched off, and someone struggles with him.  When the lights come back on, Jack is accused of stealing a valuable diamond ring from Mrs. Brockton's niece.

The boys don't seem to argue in this book.  If they do, it is so little that it is not memorable. 

This is an engaging story, and the culprit is not obvious.  There are several key suspects, but the reader can't tell who will turn out to be guilty, which makes this book a very good mystery.  I consider it the best title in the series, mainly because nearly all of the qualities that make the other books annoying are missing from this book.  It's like Mel Lyle finally got it right on the sixth try.

This is how I rank the books in the Power Boys series from best to worst:  #6, 5, 3, 4, 1, and 2.  #1 and 2 are the weakest two books.  I rank #2 the worst because the story is so disjointed and random.  #1 flows better, although it is just as weak.  I didn't care for #4, even though some readers might see it as one of the better books.  #3 is kind of weak, but the story flows well, so I rank it in the top half.  #5 and #6 are the best two books.

Issue No. 17 of The Mystery & Adventure Series Review has an article about the Power Boys series titled "The Case of the Counterfeit Series."  The article suggests that Mel Lyle read some Troy Nesbit and Ken Holt books and used them as idea sources for the second half of the series.  One Power Boys book does have a scene with a newspaper reporter that is similar to a scene from one of the Ken Holt books.  Most striking, perhaps, is that the reporter is named Ken.  The fourth Power Boys book is similar to one of the Troy Nesbit books. 

It does appear that the author did get ideas from other books, and perhaps that is why the second half of the series is better.  Whatever happened, the later Power Boys books are much better than the first few.

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