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review 2018-11-07 04:20
The Missing Chums, Hardy Boys #4
The Missing Chums (Hardy Boys, #4) - Walter S. Rogers,Franklin W. Dixon

'The Missing Chums' is the fourth book of the Hardy Boys mysteries and the first released after the simultaneous launch of the first three in 1927. This is a marketing move still used by publishers for some juvenile series. I've also always loved how incredibly outdated the title of this one is, revise THAT Harriet Strathmeyer. Ha.

 

I never read the revised version of this, likely because of that silly title, but I can imagine this would have been drastically altered after seeing how our boys behave in this round. They put themselves in a great deal of danger, blithely discount the proper authorities until the case is wrapped up in a neat bow, and show a lack of respect to their long-suffering Aunt Gertrude.

 

I forgot to mention that this title is also the introduction of good ol' Aunt Gertrude, an often tiresome relation, but one who offers a great deal of color to the series and a much needed tonic to the blissful perfection of the rest of the Hardy family.

 

The mystery here is that shortly after a strange encounter on the waters while testing out Biff Hooper new speedboat (every teen boy in Bayport gets a motorcycle and a speedboat it seems), Chet Morton and Biff go missing! Could they have been lost in that sudden storm, or is it something else? As most of Bayport assumes our two supporting characters are dead, the Hardy Boys refuse to give up, especially when they connect the boys' disappearance with a high profile case Fenton Hardy is working on.

 

A trip to a snake infested island caps off a so-so mystery, but a good adventure story. Much like in 'The Secret of the Old Mill' I couldn't find anything objectionable enough to merit revision.

 

Hardy Boys

 

Next: 'Hunting for Hidden Gold'

 

Previous: 'The Secret of the Old Mill'

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review 2018-11-07 03:34
The Secret of the Old Mill, Hardy Boys #3
The Secret of the Old Mill (Hardy Boys, #3) - Franklin W. Dixon,William G. Tapply

The third Hardy Boys mystery begins with the boys being duped by a stranger at the rail station. They change a large bill for him, which turns out to be counterfeit. In the revised edition the brothers would never be so daft, so it was their chubby chum Chet who takes the fall.

 

Counterfeiting, the boys are informed by their father, is becoming a serious issue in Bayport, and up and down the Eastern seacoast. Mr. Hardy suspects that production may be centered near their own city! Meanwhile, the boys went on a fishing trip and discovered a disused mill is being repaired and put back into business. However, they aren't interested in Chet's father's business as their rates for milling are outrageous. A theory is floated about that they're developing a new breakfast cereal and are understandably hush-hush about it. Meanwhile they befriend the lonely young boy (after saving his life, natch) who lives tat the mill, and try to pump him for information. The biggest development is the boys finally getting a sweet motorboat for their very own, and naming it the 'Sleuth'.

 

There are some interesting chase scenes and additional character studies, but while the original 'Secret of the Old Mill' is superior writing, the mystery was too thin to recommend it very much. The revised book tried jazzing up the story with cleverly delivered threatening notes to the Hardy's, but also fails to gel. The original gets three and a half stars for fun slang and period details circa 1927.

 

Hardy Boys

 

Next: 'The Missing Chums'

 

Previous: 'The House on the Cliff'

 

 

 

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review 2018-11-07 03:03
The House on the Cliff, Hardy Boys #2
The House on the Cliff (Hardy Boys, #2) - Franklin W. Dixon,Leslie McFarlane

At last! I've been collecting the vintage, unrevised Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew novels and after a few bites decided to wait and read them in order, but it took me forever to find the second book for either series. After a lucky visit to Providence R.I.'s Cellar Stories bookstore I found 'The House on the Cliff' and I'm back in business.

 

I read the later, revised edition years and years ago, but didn't feel a need to read it again. Reading the original brought back to me enough of the more ridiculous elements that were added to soften the objectionable edges of the original.

 

In this story, the brothers and a few of their best chums are out for an extended ride on their motorcycles. For a lark they decide to check out the gloomy, abandoned house on the cliff and see if the rumors of hauntings are true. There's a bit of a frightful episode and the boys flee the house. Later, the boys witness two speeding motor boats, one is blown up and a man left for dead. The boys make a daring rescue.

 

This triggers an interesting investigation into jewel smuggling (drugs in the later book), disappearing fathers, and lots and lots of bullets. Problematic elements included those bullets and the boys cheerfully loading their firearms, unrepentant thugs, and bumbling and lazy policemen. Actual horribleness is Frank using a colloquial racist expression (top of page 77 if you're curious) and, of course, a sinister Chinese man named Li Chang who sure would like 3 white men in his power. Joe's response is merely that he "doesn't want to go to China." Haha.

 

The racist elements needed to go, but the revised edition takes away over 20 pages. Descriptions are changed, authority figures become above reproach, and the Hardy Boys have a minimum involvement with undesirables. The main villain, a hardened, if naive, criminal whose only fault was lusting after Fenton Hardy's pledge to leave him alone is revised into a sad sack who is just misunderstood and wants to reform himself and turn the House on the Cliff into a home for kids who ain't learned so good.

 

The mystery itself wasn't as solid as 'The Tower Treasure', that and the old timey racism knocks the stars down to three and a half.

 

The Hardy Boys

 

Next: 'The Secret of the Old Mill'

 

Previous: 'The Tower Treasure'

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review 2018-11-02 17:17
Paperback Crush by Gabrielle Moss
Paperback Crush: The Totally Radical History Of 80’s and 90’s Teen Fiction - Gabrielle Moss

This was pure, excessive delight from start to finish. Moss' "Totally Radical" history of 80s and 90s teen fiction skews towards the female and the romantic, but many of these books were ones that I read growing up.

 

Moss begins by describing her love of reading, and her eventual returning to Sweet Valley High, etc, in her adult life. She provides important background to the genres, poo-poos the idea that 'good' YA Literature started with John Green, and divides the bulk of the books she discusses into categories - dating, scares, mysteries, school, etc.

 

Another real benefit to having this book is the trove of cover art that it features. Cover art was better in the 80s and 90s, we all know it. Romance and limited SF & fantasy publishers are the only ones who still get how to market a fun book.

 

The only flaw I found was in the exclusion of boys' titles, though Moss does touch on Goosebumps and a few others. I hope a sequel or companion may be in the works.

 

 

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review 2018-07-23 06:25
The (Original) Secret of the Old Clock, Nancy Drew #1
The Secret of the Old Clock - Russell H. Tandy,Sara Paretsky,Carolyn Keene

A little over a year ago I read 'Secret of the Old Clock' and mentioned being intrigued, but not necessarily interested in reading the original versions of the classic juvenile detective novels. Of course, in a year's time I've become convinced I need to not only read the old volumes, but to collect them, too.

The Stratemeyer Syndicate under Harriet Adams, the daughter of the man who invented the ghostwritten series and 'Nan' Drew, began revising the series from 1959 to 1976. They were intended to address issues of racism and xenophobia as well as the problem, apparently, of Nancy Drew being an entirely too willful girl. Changes needed to be made if the series was to survive, I wholeheartedly agree, but much of the descriptive language was cut out and plots were simplified, when not altogether altered.

'The Secret of the Old Clock' lost many pages, but not the plot. Nancy Drew is the courageous girl out to solve crimes and right wrong, daughter of Carson Drew and all-around capable woman. In the revised edition she rescues a little tyke who runs in front of a speeding vehicle and befriends two poor, elderly women who are taking care of the girl after her parents died in a boat explosion. They express their disappointment in being left out of the will of a wealthy relative.

In the original there is no boat explosion. No little tyke, either. Nancy learns of the speculated missing will from her father over breakfast, and an encounter with two snobby social climbers who are the daughters of the man who will inherit without the will. The family is obviously new money and their behavior makes Nancy dig in her heels and make sure somebody, anybody else gets the money instead of them.

Other characters stay the same, but Nancy's relationship with them is altered. An odd change is that a pair of young sisters - genteelly poor and kind in contrast to the snobs - have their dream changed from getting seed money to start them in tailoring and farming respectively in the original, to getting damn singing lessons in the revision is baffling. What is wrong with working for a living?

This original book is far superior in every respect, until Nancy accepts an invitation from her friend Helen Corning (No Bess and George, yet) to a camp getaway, but sneaks away to sleuth and gets into trouble. Its not getting into trouble that's the matter. Nancy interrupts a robbery at a lake house and is locked away by the crooks. She is found later by the black caretaker who has an "alcoholic glitter" in his eyes, Prohibition was still in effect in 1930. The caretaker had been given alcohol by the crooks and then locked in a shed to be kept out of the way. There's some unfortunate dialogue and Nancy delivers a lecture and...let's not go into it.

To solve her case Nancy hides evidence from the police, avoids gunfire, and in the end enjoys seeing the downfall of the social climbers as much as helping out the poor friends and relations who desperately needed the money from will. This Nancy is flawed, but I like her a lot.

Next: 'The Hidden Staircase'

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