Sunday, February 28, 2016

Hardy Boys #42 Viking Symbol and #43 Aztec Warrior

In Hardy Boys #42, The Viking Symbol Mystery, Frank and Joe head to Canada to search for a missing rune stone near Great Slave Lake.

This book is not that interesting.  The story contains too many lessons about runes and how to fly a seaplane.

Caribou yells all time, which is annoying.  His favorite expression is "Bon tonnerre!"

On page 85, it is decided that Joe and Chet will go back to Edmonton to check on an imposter who is not in custody.  This interlude lasts seven pages and is totally pointless and boring.  That pretty much sums up this entire book.  It is full of filler to make a very weak story long enough to publish.

This book bored me.  I ended up skimming the second half of the story.

In Hardy Boys #43, The Mystery of the Aztec Warrior, a mysterious item is left to an heir described only as an "Aztec warrior."  Fenton Hardy and his sons must figure out what the item is and who the heir is.

The beginning of this book bored me.  It is completely uninteresting, and I had no reason to care.  Finally, after Jack Wayne disappears on page 35, the book caught my interest.

The coincidences are a bit unbelievable.

The book is interspersed with history lessons, which are not that interesting.

I enjoyed the book from page 35 until fairly close to the end, where I once again lost interest.  I overall enjoyed this book.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Hardy Boys #40 Desert Giant and #41 Screeching Owl

In Hardy Boys #40, Mystery of the Desert Giant, Frank and Joe are tasked with finding a missing man, Willard Grafton, who disappeared after flying with another man to Blythe, California.  The boys are followed and threatened by a gang as they journey through Arizona, California, and Mexico in search of Grafton.

On page 170, Fenton Hardy comes to a stunning realization.
"Then there's no doubt about it," Fenton Hardy concluded with a little smile.  "You three boys and I have been working on the same case from different angles!"
This happens in every single book!

I greatly enjoyed this book.

In Hardy Boys #41, The Clue of the Screeching Owl, Frank, Joe, and Chet travel to Black Hollow to search for Captain Maguire, who has disappeared.  Black Hollow is said to be haunted by a witch who died 200 years ago.  Dogs keep disappearing from the area, and a horrible screeching sound is heard at night.  Residents are quite frightened.

On pages 8 and 9, a mother drags a crying boy from the woods.  Chet immediately offers the boy a candy bar.  This struck me funny, kind of like the time when Bess Marvin pulls a box of crackers and a candy bar out of her purse in the Nancy Drew book, The Spider Sapphire Mystery.

When I read early in this book that dogs are disappearing from around Black Hollow, I immediately thought of the Secret Circle book, The Mystery of the Disappearing Dogs, in which dogs are stolen for medical experiments.  I thought it was interesting on page 60 when one of the suspects states that there is "a big illegal market on dogs for medical experimentation" as a possible reason for the missing dogs.  If I had not already read the Secret Circle book, I would not have thought of that possibility before it was mentioned in this book.

This book is written well with vivid imagery.  The description of Black Hollow is outstanding.  Parts of the book are set during storms, and the description of the thunder, lightning, and rain adds to the setting.  It's not necessary for an author to rely on warning notes, phoned threats, and constant attacks to advance the plot.  This author did it right.

This is an excellent book from start to finish.  It's the very best Hardy Boys book I've read in awhile.  I greatly enjoyed it.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Hardy Boys #38 Devil's Paw and #39 Chinese Junk

In the original text of Hardy Boys #38, The Mystery at Devil's Paw, Frank and Joe head to Alaska with Chet to help Tony, who is working in Alaska on a summer job.  During their journey, the boys are followed and attacked.  The trouble continues in Alaska, as the boys search for the gang responsible for the attacks on Tony.

On page 115, the boys are offered raw salmon and eat just a few bites, since the raw meat does not appeal to them.  How quickly they forget!  In the original text of The Mark on the Door, the boys eat raw fish just caught from the river and don't seem to mind.

I overall greatly enjoyed this book, but it began to drag for me towards the end.

In Hardy Boys #39, The Mystery of the Chinese Junk, the Hardy boys purchase a secondhand Chinese junk in New York City.  Even before the transaction is finalized, one Chinese man after another shows up desperately wanting to purchase the junk from the brothers.

This book parallels Footprints Under the Window in that Chinese men show up all the time throughout the story, menacing the Hardy boys.  The Chinese men even get into a fight while on the deck of the junk while in the harbor.  I seem to recall a brawl between all the Chinese in Footprints Under the Window.

I found all the Chinese men showing up constantly to be a bit annoying, kind of like how I felt while reading Footprints Under the Window.  I did end up laughing at the absurdity after reading this short passage at the top of page 30.
...a short, slender Chinese approached them on the dock.

"Good grief, another one?" Chet muttered.
This is another book that lacks a clear purpose.  We can assume that the men want the junk because of smuggling.  We don't know, however.  All we know is that the boys are using the junk to earn money during the summer, and these Chinese men keep interfering, sending warning notes, and boarding the junk.

While silly, this book is an improvement over Footprints Under the Window.  I enjoyed it.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Hardy Boys #36 Pirates' Hill and #37 Skeleton Rock

In the original text of Hardy Boys #36, The Secret of Pirates' Hill, Clyde Bowden hires the boys to search for an old Spanish cannon that is located somewhere in the area of Bayport.  Soon, the boys realize that at least three other people are searching for the same cannon and must endure constant threats and attacks from all these different people.

On page 14, Frank tells Bowden that they don't take money for their cases and have never earned anything for solving a case.  Oh, really?  What about all those early books when the boys rake in tons of money for each case?

With four different people trying to find the cannon, the reader has no idea who is telling the truth and who is a villain.  This does make the book more suspenseful, but I also found all the multiple possible villains to be quite annoying.

For the entire book, the villains set out to steal the cutlasses, and the Hardy boys seem not to care why.  It is not until page 172 that Frank and Joe finally consider examining the one cutlass they have in their possession.  Of course, they immediately discover a clue that they should have found much earlier in the story, if they had only been curious about the cutlasses.  If a bunch of people want the cutlasses, they must be important!

I also couldn't understand why the boys thought that the stock Bowden sold had to be legitimate just because he was selling stock in a known company.  It's not until page 194 that the boys finally consider that the stock could be counterfeit!

The Hardy boys are not on top of their game in this story.  I did not find this one to be that compelling.  It's okay but nothing special.

In the original text of Hardy Boys #37, The Ghost at Skeleton Rock, Chet's interest in purchasing a dummy for his ventriloquism act plunges the Hardy boys into their latest mystery.  Several men want Chet's dummy, and the boys must find out why.  The case eventually brings the boys to Puerto Rico, where they face deadly foes.

This story starts out quite well and maintained my interest, despite unbelievable coincidences.  Unfortunately, once the boys reach Puerto Rico, the book began to bore me.

I feel like the final scene at Skeleton Island should have been longer.  While I do appreciate that the ending of this book is not excessively long and boring like some other books, the suspenseful part of the ending is way too short.  A little less chasing around of villains and a little more excitement on Skeleton Island would have been nice.

The cover art depiction of Skeleton Island makes the island not that noticeable.  The plane is the focus and all that a casual observer will notice.  The reason I know that a casual observer will miss the island is because for a long time I didn't realize that Skeleton Island was pictured.  All I saw was the plane.  The revised cover art depicts the plane as smaller which does help.

This book is okay and nothing that great.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Hardy Boys #34 Hooded Hawk and #35 Clue in the Embers

In the original text of Hardy Boys #34, The Hooded Hawk Mystery, the Hardy boys receive a peregrine falcon by special delivery.  The falcon was sent to the boys to aid them in Fenton Hardy's latest case.  Fenton is searching for a gang that is smuggling illegal aliens from India into the country.  An Indian prince has gone missing, and the boys also search for him.

The beginning part of the story contains a detailed description of how to care for and use a trained hawk.  It was a bit much.  This book is from the era when Grosset and Dunlap books became educational, which generally makes them not quite as interesting as the older stories.

The boys go to Chet's farm to work with the hawk.  Conveniently, the villains are also near Chet's farm.

I overall enjoyed the story up until around two-thirds of the way in.  At that point, I lost interest and started skimming.  I did not read the last two chapters.  I did not care at all.

In the original text of Hardy Boys #35, The Clue in the Embers, Tony Prito inherits the contents of his uncle's shop.  As soon as the items come into Tony's possession, multiple people try to steal the items.  One person claims that two medallions, supposedly wanted purely for sentimental reasons, were part of the collection and asks for the Hardys to find them.  The boys soon learn that the medallions are clues to a treasure.

I did not like the beginning of this book, but I gradually gained interest.

Even though I overall enjoyed this story, the plot consists of a repetitious and annoying cycle of events.  The boys make a discovery, and then are immediately attacked or threatened by a villain.  The boys look for the villain, make another discovery, and are attacked or threatened again.  The cycle repeats over and over throughout the entire story.

The book is okay but never interested me that much.  Towards the end, I began skimming.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Hardy Boys #32 Crisscross Shadow and #33 Yellow Feather

In the original text of Hardy Boys #32, The Crisscross Shadow, the Hardy boys learn that Chet's great-grandfather was an honorary member of the Pashunk Indian tribe and that he often spoke of a legend involving a lost treasure hidden in a crisscross shadow.  The boys set out with Chet to find the treasure.

This book starts very interesting and overall kept my interest.

I like how the ending does not have the extended question and answer session.  Only a few pages are needed to clear up some details that the reader does not already know.  Since the details are new to the reader, that part is overall interesting.

I enjoyed this book.

In the original text of Hardy Boys #33, The Yellow Feather Mystery, Greg Woodson asks the Hardy boys to help him find his grandfather's lost will at Woodson Academy.  The school was presumably left to Greg, but without a will, the headmaster, Henry Kurt, has taken control.  Meanwhile, a mysterious person called the Yeather Feather has left ominous threats at the school.

I love books set in schools, and I also love books that are set in a small locale where nearly all the action occurs.  This book fits both scenarios. 

This is an excellent book, and I enjoyed every bit of it.  Nothing dragged, and nothing was boring, not even at the end.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Hardy Boys #30 Wailing Siren and #31 Wildcat Swamp

In the original text of Hardy Boys #30, The Wailing Siren Mystery, the Hardy boys are stranded out on the water in their boat when they hear a wailing siren and a wallet loaded with money falls out of the sky.  These events plunge the boys into their latest mystery as they search for their missing pilot friend, Jack Wayne.

The wailing siren part is stupid.  The criminals could have just communicated via radio, perhaps using a code, instead of using a siren to announce the helicopter's arrival.  Why use a siren to announce to the entire surrounding area that something is happening?

As I recall, book title ideas were created first, then stories were written to match the title.  This book is a glaring example of that practice since the "wailing siren" part of the plot is so stupid.  Hey, they had to come up with something.

I greatly enjoyed this book and read it very quickly.

In the original text of Hardy Boys #31, The Secret of Wildcat Swamp, Bayport High School teacher Cap Bailey invites the boys to travel west with him on an archaeological dig.  Fenton Hardy approves of the trip, since he believes that the boys may find a clue that will help locate some escaped criminals.

The very beginning of the story is quite interesting, but then the book diverts to a trip to the prison where information is revealed about several criminals who mean absolutely nothing to the reader.  In short, the prison scene is boring.

The book redeems itself once the boys depart on their trip.  However, I was puzzled about the boys' attempt to make their true destination a secret.  Their true destination had already been published in a newspaper article, but the boys act like they are going somewhere else.  A fake destination was not going to fool the criminals.

I overall enjoyed this book, but I found several parts either boring or tiresome.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Hardy Boys #28 Crooked Arrow and #29 Lost Tunnel

In the original text of Hardy Boys #28, The Sign of the Crooked Arrow, the Hardy boys investigate a series of robberies which are somehow tied to Arrow cigarettes.  More clues are found, including a tie clasp with a crooked arrow on it.  The boys' work on the case is interrupted when they are called west to help Cousin Ruth with her farm.  Soon, the boys realize that the Crooked Arrow gang is responsible for all of Cousin Ruth's problems, and they work to apprehend the gang.

Fenton has a case, a relative is in trouble, and a gang uses Arrow cigarettes to commit crimes.  And as always, all events are part of the same case.

I really like the western setting.  Even though I lost interest towards the end, I greatly enjoyed most all of the book. 

In the original text of Hardy Boys #29, The Secret of the Lost Tunnel, General Smith asks the Hardys to help him vindicate his ancestor, a Confederate general who was accused of stealing gold from a bank.  The gold has never been found, and General Smith hopes that finding the gold will prove his relative innocent of the crime.

On page 82, the boys are looking for tracks in the woods.  Soon, it begins raining so hard that the boys have to seek shelter.  After the rain stops some time later, the boys resume looking for footprints.  Nothing is mentioned about how the rain might have washed the footprints away.

Each time the boys find a clue or something they think is important, they yell about it.  The boys are aware that the villains are in the area, but they broadcast their activities to the world.  This is so stupid!

Towards the end of the story, a blimp falls to the ground while on fire.  Nothing is mentioned about the fire going out, nor is there any concern about the engulfed blimp causing a forest fire.  I thought this was odd.

This book reads very much like a revised text Nancy Drew book.  In fact, I feel like this story would have worked quite well as a Nancy Drew book so long as Ned, Burt, and Dave were along to take care of the chasing down of the crooks.  And of course, we know they would have come along, as always.

I greatly enjoyed this story.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Hardy Boys #26 Phantom Freighter and #27 Skull Mountain

In the original text of Hardy Boys #26, The Phantom Freighter, Thaddeus McClintock wants to go on a trip.  He hires the Hardy boys to come up with a good idea for a trip and to make all the plans.  Frank and Joe decide upon a trip on a freighter, but they cannot get passage on one.  Meanwhile, Aunt Gertrude receives a carton of documents that is not hers.  Her carton was switched with someone else's, and the boys must find Aunt Gertrude's carton.

I found it odd that the boys never look at the contents of the carton that Aunt Gertrude receives by mistake.  Later on page 49, Fenton says that the carton may have contained something valuable.  Right.  The boys missed an opportunity when they gave up the carton without searching it.  They should know by now that in Bayport there are no unimportant coincidences.  Everything strange is part of an important mystery. 

While I overall enjoyed the book, I feel like the plot goes in circles.  The boys keep trying to get passage on a freighter. They keep going back to the same place, where they know they will be turned down, and keep asking to no avail.

In the original text of Hardy Boys #27, The Secret of Skull Mountain, water disappears from the Tarnack reservoir each night.  As a result, Bayport's water supply may soon get low.  The Hardy boys investigate.

I found the writing to be off.  Chet is always the butt of jokes due to his obsession with food, but I felt his behavior to be appalling.  Early in the story, Chet arrives during the Hardys' dinner and expects to get a full meal.  He assumes that he is to be given part of their meal and is disappointed that none is left for him.

The Hardys take home an Indian skull and use it to scare Aunt Gertrude.  This is disrespectful of the the dead.  I was reminded of how Nancy Drew and her friends play a prank using an Indian skeleton in The Secret of the Forgotten City.

I did not find this book interesting.  I did not like the beginning of the story, and I was not interested in the plot.  I ended up skimming a large portion of the later part of the story.  

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Hardy Boys #24 Short-Wave Mystery and #25 Secret Panel

In the original text of Hardy Boys #24, The Short-Wave Mystery, Chet embarks on the hobby of taxidermy, which plunges the Hardy Boys into their next mystery.  Stuffed animals are being stolen from all around Bayport.  Meanwhile, a mysterious message, "Help—Hudson," is heard over the short-wave radio.  The Hardy boys also devote their time to helping others, including an amnesia patient and a group of street urchins who are in trouble with the law.  And obviously, all of these events become intertwined in the same mystery.

The Hardy boys make sure that the street urchins go to school before helping with Chet's taxidermy.  On page 24, the boys arrive at the Hardys' home with their schoolbooks as proof that they had been to school.  The Hardys, however, had spent their entire day listening to the short-wave radio.  Don't they have to attend school as well?  Or have they mysteriously graduated from high school again?

On page 168, Fenton has no idea what "Help—Hudson" could possibly mean.  How about the obvious?  Someone needs help!

I thought it rather convenient of the criminals to leave a map behind showing the exact location of Hudson's hideout in Canada.

I skimmed the last part of the book.  When stories are not as logical as they could be and are too coincidental, I often get bored towards the end.  It is ridiculous that the missing men are found near the criminals at the end of the story.  I knew during the entire story that this would be the result.  Once I reached the place where the story reveals that very coincidence, I lost interest and wanted it to be over.

Except for the last part, I greatly enjoyed this story.
In the original text of Hardy Boys #25, The Secret Panel, John Mead asks the Hardy Boys to make certain he turned off a light in his home.  The boys have two problems:  John Mead has been dead for five years, and the house has no doorknobs!  In the meantime, a doctor was abducted to care for a patient, and Fenton Hardy asks the boys to help him in this case. 

On page 40, Frank and Joe tell Fenton about Lenny, who is missing.  Fenton replies as follows.
"I don't like it," he remarked.  "Racketeers, shooting—no, it sounds like trouble among members of a gang.  That's something I don't want to get mixed up with."
Say, what?  This is unbelievable.  Fenton is mixed up with dangerous characters all the time, and he is worried about a gang?  Oddly, Fenton changes his mind on page 44 and enthusiastically sends the boys off to investigate.  First, Fenton is worried about a gang, then he decides to pull his sons into the case.  This is just so logical.

I thoroughly enjoyed most of the book.  I was bored once the boys are rescued, because then the book becomes the typical who-did-what.  The last couple of chapters are devoted to a detailed explanation of every single event.  I didn't care, and I seldom do.  I skimmed most of it.