Friday, June 15, 2018

Roy Stover #3 Cliff Island Mystery and #4 Circle of Fire

In Roy Stover #3, The Cliff Island Mystery, John Brackenbone has been defrauding gullible people around Lakeport for years with shady real estate investments.  The victims each have paid Brackenbone thousands of dollars as investors in a housing project which seems to be on permanent hold.  Roy learns that Brackenbone included a clause where he has no time limit on when he can begin the housing project, so no one can force Brackenbone to make good.

Brackenbone goes to Cliff Island, which he owns.  Roy follows him there to get information and discovers a suicide note.  Roy finds some of Brackenbone's clothes scattered on the cliff, and all evidence indicates that Brackenbone is dead.  Furthermore, Brackenbone's money is missing.  Roy has a hunch about what really happened and hopes that he can learn the truth.

After Roy finds the suicide note, he searches the empty house.  This portion of the book is quite foreboding.  On page 102, Roy, while inside the dark house, concludes that Brackenbone might have shot or hanged himself inside the house.  Roy then begins to search the house for the body.  On page 105, Roy is "fearful of some dangling object that the searching light might at any moment expose."  This story is definitely for older readers.

Roy is alone on Cliff Island during much of the story.

In Roy Stover #4, The Mystery of the Circle of Fire, Roy is sent to the old Boswell mansion to find out about strange events that have transpired.  While on the property, Roy sees a circle of fire on the front porch.  He also hears a scream, and he discovers a girl who has fainted.  Roy spots a gorilla roaming around the property and discovers that a professor is in the basement doing experiments with large rats and that a group of men believed to be criminals have been seen on the property.

This is a weak and ridiculous story.  Three different groups of people are hanging out on the Boswell property for different purposes, and the three groups have nothing to do with each other.  Each group also doesn't seem to know that the other two groups are on the property.

On page 219, Roy finally figures out how stupid this story is when he remarks, "This mystery is not at all what I thought it would be."  I was disappointed as well, but I figured out much earlier in the story that the mystery would end up being stupid.  Poor Roy takes it seriously up until page 219.

When Roy discovers the professor in the basement, a bunch of barrels fall down, and the professor is hit and presumably is knocked out.  On page 52, Roy thinks that the professor might have gone crazy.  Roy tells himself that "if the old 'bugologist' is in here with me, I'm getting out, and I hope he is unconscious.  This is no place for a healthy lad who wants to stay that way."  Say what!?  Roy hopes the man is unconscious when there is nothing to indicate that he is a criminal.  This is bizarre.  Roy then leaves without checking on the professor to see if he is okay.

While I did not enjoy this book, it is overall very good and comparable to the Hardy Boys books of the same time period.  The story would have been better as a Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys book and simply doesn't fit with the other Roy Stover books.  To clarify, the major series of the Stratemeyer Syndicate often have ridiculous plots but are still quite enjoyable to read.  The first three Roy Stover books are masterpieces.  The fourth book falls far short of that level.

The Mystery of the Circle of Fire does not strike the same tone as the other books in the set.  Roy is very introspective in the first three books and does lots of investigation alone.  He investigates alone some in this book, but he spends much more time talking to others about the case and is often accompanied by others.

I never cared about the story in this book and felt that it was a bit stupid all along.  Of course, the book has a different author, but I presume that whoever outlined the story was not the same person who did it for the first three titles.  I usually like books written by Walter Karig, but I did not enjoy this one because of the flawed story.

The first three books in this series are excellent to outstanding.  The fourth book is a disappointment.

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