Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Hardy Boys #44 Haunted Fort and #45 Spiral Bridge

In Hardy Boys #44, The Haunted Fort, Chet asks Frank and Joe to solve a mystery for his uncle, who runs an art school.  Valuable paintings have disappeared from the school.  Meanwhile, a nearby fort is said to contain a treasure and is haunted.

Sadly, the story is not anywhere near as good as the cover art.

I found it hard to visualize the art school, the mansion, and the surrounding area.  The description given of the setting was quite lacking.

On page 36, church is mentioned, and this is the first book to mention church, not including revised text versions of the original text books.  This is just something that I notice and find interesting.  The church references show up in the Grosset and Dunlap books published during the 1960s.

I didn't think the boys would ever get to the fort to investigate.  They keep investigating all sorts of random leads and stay away from the one place they should visit.  They even participate in recreational activities such as swimming instead of working on the case.  On page 79, Frank comments that someone wants to keep them away from the fort, since several attacks and threats against the boys have been made.  No, Frank, you are keeping yourself away from the fort.  Further down that same page, the boys get a canoe and decide to visit an old hermit to view his painting.  Um... the fort?  Please?  Why is this book called The Haunted Fort?

As of halfway through the book, the boys have briefly investigated the outside of the fort twice.  The boys finally make it inside the fort on page 115, but they don't have a chance to investigate.  On page 130, the boys investigate inside the fort again and find nothing.  On page 135, they finally see a ghostly figure. 

One positive part is that this book is the rare Hardy Boys story that does not have a parallel Fenton Hardy mystery.  It's dumb how in just about every book, the boys and their father work on two separate cases that turn out to be the same case.  That doesn't happen here, since Fenton is not mentioned.

This book is okay, but my enjoyment was reduced by the time wasted by the boys running around in circles getting nothing done.  By the time the boys finally fully explore the fort and find what they have been seeking, I no longer cared.  I skimmed the last part of the story.

In Hardy Boys #45, The Mystery of the Spiral Bridge, Fenton Hardy has been severely injured while working on a case.  Tony's father is working on a bridge in Kentucky, and the project has been sabotaged.  Frank, Joe, and all their friends take undercover jobs on the project in order to discover the culprits.

The undercover work adds to the suspense.  If The Haunted Fort had been set up in that fashion, I would have found it much more interesting.

This book is outstanding.  The book starts fast and maintains a suspenseful atmosphere throughout the text.  The Hardys' friends get picked off one by one by the villains, and that adds even more to the suspense.  The villain is surprising.  The ending doesn't drag.  None of the book drags, and everything is interesting.

Some readers tell others that all higher-numbered books in the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series are bad.  This is not true.  Some books are excellent, and this book is one of them.

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