Friday, August 5, 2016

The Hardy Boys Digest Series Overview

The Hardy Boys Digest series consists of #59 through #190 and is a continuation of the original Hardy Boys series, which consists of  #1 through #58.  My interest in reading the books came from my desire to see how they compare to the Nancy Drew Digest series.  In this post about the Nancy Drew Digest series, I wrote what I thought of the Nancy Drew Digest series.  Now I will do the same for the Hardy Boys series.


    59. Night of the Werewolf - excellent
    60. Mystery of the Samurai Sword - good
    61. The Pentagon Spy - good
    62. The Apeman's Secret - good
    63. The Mummy Case - not good
    64. Mystery of Smugglers Cove - excellent
    65. The Stone Idol - not good
    66. The Vanishing Thieves - very good
    67. The Outlaw's Silver - good
    68. The Submarine Caper/Deadly Chase - not good
    69. The Four-Headed Dragon - excellent
    70. The Infinity Clue - very good
    71. Track of the Zombie - very good
    72. The Voodoo Plot - very good
    73. The Billion Dollar Ransom - good
    74. Tic-Tac-Terror - good
    75. Trapped at Sea - good
    76. Game Plan for Disaster - good
    77. The Crimson Flame - good
    78. Cave-In - excellent
    79. Sky Sabotage - good
    80. The Roaring River Mystery - not good
    81. The Demon's Den - very good
    82. The Blackwing Puzzle  - not good
    83. The Swamp Monster - good
    84. Revenge of the Desert Phantom - excellent

I already wrote that I was favorably impressed with the Hardy Boys Wanderer books.  In fact, I consider the Hardy Boys Wanderer books to be much better than their Nancy Drew counterparts, #57-78 in the Nancy Drew series.  This is because the Hardy Boys series retained some of the authors of the original 58 for this portion of the series.  The Nancy Drew series changed to completely different authors due to the passing of Harriet Adams, and quality and continuity suffered as a result.


From here on I note which books feature sabotage, which is a theme that is used way too much by Simon and Schuster.

    85. The Skyfire Puzzle -  sabotage, excellent
    86. The Mystery of the Silver Star - sabotage, very good
    87. Program for Destruction - sabotage, excellent
    88. Tricky Business - very good
    89. The Sky Blue Frame - excellent
    90. Danger on the Diamond - sabotage, very good
    91. Shield of Fear - not good
    92. The Shadow Killers - not good
    93. The Serpent's Tooth Mystery - excellent
    94. Breakdown in Axeblade - excellent
    95. Danger On The Air - sabotage, excellent
    96. Wipeout - sabotage, good
    97. Cast of Criminals - sabotage, excellent
    98. Spark of Suspicion - sabotage, good
    99. Dungeon of Doom - good
  100. The Secret of the Island Treasure - very good
  101. The Money Hunt - good
  102. Terminal Shock - good
  103. The Million-Dollar Nightmare - not good
  104. Tricks of the Trade - very good
  105. The Smoke Screen Mystery - very good
  106. Attack of the Video Villains - very good
  107. Panic on Gull Island - not good
  108. Fear on Wheels - sabotage, not good

These are the early books created by Simon and Schuster, and they correspond to Nancy Drew #79-101.  Like with Nancy Drew, this is a good group of books.  Some of them are quite creative while others fall into the boring sabotage plot.  I'd say that overall these are about equally good as the corresponding Nancy Drew books.


  109. The Prime-Time Crime - good
  110. The Secret of Sigma Seven - not good
  111. Three-Ring Terror - sabotage, not good
  112. The Demolition Mission - sabotage, very good
  113. Radical Moves - sabotage, good
  114. The Case of the Counterfeit Criminals - excellent
  115. Sabotage at Sports City - sabotage, very good
  116. Rock 'n' Roll Renegades - very good
  117. The Baseball Card Conspiracy - not good
  118. Danger in the Fourth Dimension - excellent
  119. Trouble at Coyote Canyon - sabotage, excellent
  120. The Case of the Cosmic Kidnapping - excellent
  121. The Mystery in the Old Mine - very good
  122. Carnival of Crime - sabotage, good
  123. The Robot's Revenge - sabotage, good
  124. Mystery with a Dangerous Beat - sabotage, good
  125. Mystery on Makatunk Island - sabotage, good
  126. Racing to Disaster - sabotage, not good
  127. Reel Thrills - sabotage, good
  128. Day of the Dinosaur - excellent
  129. The Treasure at Dolphin Bay - very good
  130. Sidetracked to Danger - not good
  131. Crusade of the Flaming Sword - sabotage, not good
  132. Maximum Challenge - very good
  133. Crime in the Kennel - very good
  134. Cross-Country Crime - excellent
  135. The Hypersonic Secret - excellent

The Nancy Drew books that correspond to this group are #102-127.  15 of those 26 books use sabotage.  12 of these 27 Hardy Boys books use sabotage, which is slightly less than the Nancy Drew series.  In both series, the sabotage is repetitive and gets old.


  136. The Cold Cash Caper - not good
  137. High-Speed Showdown - sabotage, not good
  138. The Alaskan Adventure - excellent
  139. The Search for the Snow Leopard - very good
  140. Slam Dunk Sabotage - sabotage, very good
  141. The Desert Thieves - good
  142. Lost in Gator Swamp - not good
  143. The Giant Rat of Sumatra - sabotage, good
  144. The Secret of Skeleton Reef - excellent
  145. Terror at High Tide - sabotage, not good
  146. The Mark of the Blue Tattoo - good
  147. Trial and Terror - good
  148. The Ice-Cold Case - excellent
  149. The Chase for the Mystery Twister - good
  150. The Crisscross Crime - very good

Just like with the corresponding Nancy Drew books, the series partially moves away from sabotage and has more varied plots, which are more interesting for the most part.  Also in this group, the publisher reused some words from the titles of the original 58 books for the titles of these books.


  151. The Rocky Road to Revenge - excellent
  152. Danger in the Extreme - sabotage, not good
  153. Eye on Crime - not good
  154. The Caribbean Cruise Caper - sabotage, good
  155. The Hunt for the Four Brothers - not good
  156. A Will to Survive - very good
  157. The Lure of the Italian Treasure - good
  158. The London Deception - sabotage, very good
  159. Daredevils - sabotage, very good
  160. A Game Called Chaos - excellent
  161. Training for Trouble - sabotage, very good
  162. The End of the Trail - excellent
  163. The Spy that Never Lies - very good
  164. Skin & Bones - very good
  165. Crime in the Cards - very good
  166. Past And Present Danger - excellent
  167. Trouble Times Two - good
  168. The Castle Conundrum - sabotage, excellent
  169. Ghost of a Chance - sabotage, not good
  170. Kickoff to Danger - excellent
  171. The Test Case - excellent
  172. Trouble in Warp Space - sabotage, not good
  173. Speed Times Five - sabotage, very good
  174. Hide-and-Sneak - sabotage, not good
  175. Trick-or-Trouble - sabotage, not good
  176. In Plane Sight - sabotage, very good
  177. The Case of the Psychic's Vision - very good
  178. The Mystery of the Black Rhino - not good
  179. Passport to Danger - sabotage, not good
  180. Typhoon Island - sabotage, very good
  181. Double Jeopardy - sabotage, not good
  182. The Secret of the Soldier's Gold - very good
  183. Warehouse Rumble - sabotage, not good
  184. The Dangerous Transmission - not good
  185. Wreck and Roll - sabotage, not good
  186. Hidden Mountain - excellent
  187. No Way Out - good
  188. Farming Fear - sabotage, very good
  189. One False Step - very good
  190. Motocross Madness - sabotage, not good

Like in the Nancy Drew series, continuity errors appear at times, particularly noticeable with respect to the boys' boat, The Sleuth.  I feel like the inconsistencies are less noticeable in this series than in the Nancy Drew series, although my perception may be flawed since I am more knowledgeable about Nancy Drew and have read those books multiple times.  The final Nancy Drew Digest books have serious continuity problems, like Nancy's age changing back and forth between 17 and 18 and Ned suddenly becoming blond for the only time in the publishing history of Nancy Drew.  I do not notice those kinds of problems in the final Hardy Boys Digest books.

The overuse of sabotage is problematic in both the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series.  Simon and Schuster must have a list of sabotage plots that they alternate between.  Here are the main types.

museum sabotage
fundraiser sabotage
sports sabotage
television show/movie sabotage
music group/rock star sabotage
business sabotage

I may have left out a few, but those are the main ones that come to mind.

Thanks to the Hardy Boys series, I now absolutely hate sports sabotage.  Sports sabotage involves excessive detail in describing every stage of a sporting event, which always results in sabotage.  The book then describes a second, third, and fourth event in the competition with the same excessive detail, and each one ends in sabotage.  It is so extremely boring!  I marked most of the sports sabotage books as "not good" in my list.

Since the books were written for boys, I assume that male readers enjoy that kind of book more than I do. I get nothing from excessive description of a sporting event that results in sabotage.  I would almost rather eat dirt than read about that.  Almost.

The question is, did Simon and Schuster do better with the Nancy Drew Digest series or the Hardy Boys Digest series?

Nancy Drew

Out of 119 books:

Not good - 35 books or 29.4%
Good - 32 books or 26.9%
Very good - 38 books or 31.9%
Excellent - 14 books or 11.8%

Overall - 43.7% very good or excellent
        Hardy Boys

        Out of 132 books:

        Not good - 34 books or 25.8%
        Good - 32 books or 24.2%
        Very Good - 36 books or 27.3%
        Excellent - 30 books or 22.7%

        Overall - 50% very good or excellent

It looks like I overall enjoyed the Hardy Boys Digest series more than I did the Nancy Drew Digest series.  It's not enough of a difference, however, to be significant.  More significant is that I rated 30 Hardy Boys books as excellent and only 14 Nancy Drew books as excellent.  It's important to note that Nancy Drew is my very favorite series.

What makes the difference is that the Hardy Boys are allowed more interesting experiences than Nancy Drew.  The Hardy Boys can be volunteer firefighters or police recruits, and Nancy Drew is never allowed to partake in those kinds of activities.  Simon and Schuster's creative staff has allowed Nancy Drew's gender to hold her back.

That aside, the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series are about equally good.  Some readers say that the Hardy Boys series is more of an adventure series than a mystery series, which is why they prefer Nancy Drew.  I don't really agree with that assessment.  The Hardy Boys series is a mystery series, but the difference is the amount of action.  The Hardy Boys plots involve physical action as they try to apprehend criminals.  For obvious reasons, Nancy Drew doesn't do that.  The action scenes in the Hardy Boys books, which involve lots of running, punching, and kicking, can last for three to five pages and are boring, at least to me.  I skimmed most of those scenes.

The fight scenes with the culprits always play out in one of two ways.  If the fight scene is in the middle of the book, the culprit gets away.  If the fight scene is at the end of the book, the culprit is apprehended.  See?  There's no reason to read the fight scenes unless you love reading about fighting.

To me, the difference between Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys is mainly that the Hardy Boys get into rough fights with the culprits.  They also get to do more exciting activities, since they are boys. 

I overall greatly enjoyed my reading of the Hardy Boys Digest series.  I had less trouble getting through the Hardy Boys Digest books than I did the original 58.  Yes, I do mean that.  I struggled through parts of the original 58 books.  As strange as it might sound, I overall prefer the Hardy Boys Digest books.  This is should not be a surprise, since all along, my opinions have been different from the majority of Hardy Boys enthusiasts.

1 comment:

Bob said...

I find many of the Digest stories preferable to those in the Canon, particularly some of the revisions.