Thursday, June 21, 2018

Outboard Boys #1 Mystery Island and #2 Shadow Lake

Roger Garis was the son of prolific series book writer Howard Garis.  Roger was also a writer and even published his own magazine for a time.  Roger wrote the Outboard Boys series which was published by A. L. Burt.  Some Burt advertisements refer to the series as the Outboard Motor Boys series.

1.  The Outboard Boys at Mystery Island, 1933
2.  The Outboard Boys at Shadow Lake, 1933
3.  The Outboard Boys at Pirate Beach, 1933
4.  The Outboard Boys at Shark River, 1934

The original Burt books are quite scarce.  Modern reprints are available for purchase at  Additionally, the text of the books can be found available online for free via online searches.

In Outboard Boys #1, The Outboard Boys at Mystery Island, Terry Blondel, Warren Finn, and Martin Hazzard decide to purchase a boat.  They would also like to purchase an outboard motor for the boat, but they do not have enough money.  The boys learn about an essay contest where the winner will receive an outboard motor.  Martin wins the contest, and the boys get their boat ready.

The boys decide to explore Mystery Island, which is an island that attracts lightning due to a heavy content of metal ore.  Unfortunately, the boys' enemy, Jake Lawson, is staying on the island with a man who acts crazy.  Soon, the boys learn that the man is at the center of a mystery, and they work on solving it.

The book starts out a bit slow, but then it gets good.

The size of the island as compared to the lake confused me.  The lake is large and is said to be around five miles wide.  Many islands are scattered all over the lake. Mystery Island is said to be five to six miles wide. The island sounds like it is about as big as the lake!

In Outboard Boys #2, The Outboard Boys at Shadow Lake, the boys learn about Shadow Lake, which is said to be haunted and contains some kind of large creature.  While at a circus, the boys learn that the circus wants to find a new curiosity for its sideshow. The boys tell the men about Shadow Lake, and the boys are hired to capture the creature for the circus.

Jake Lawson is hired by a rival sideshow and will also attempt to locate the creature.  Jake and his accomplices sabotage the Outboard Boys' efforts in finding the creature, and the boys must work fast in hope of being successful.

On page 129, Warren is lost in the woods. While trying to find his way, he witnesses a lion killing a deer.  Later, Terry and Martin are looking for Warren and view the scene from a cliff.  They see the carcass and at first think that it is what is left of Warren.  How gruesome.

I noticed that "swell" is used often in this book.  I think of "swell" as a word that was used more towards the 1950s, but clearly, it was already in use during the 1930s.  I do not recall seeing "swell" used in other series books of this age.  In any case, I feel like Roger Garis was a little ahead of his time.  As I read the books, I also was struck by how intelligent he was.  For instance, in one passage in one of the books, the binomial theorem, which is a theorem in mathematics, is mentioned.  That's not something that most juvenile series authors would have included in a book.

This is a good book.

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