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The Best of the Hardy Boys Classics Collection Volume 1 the Tower Treasure/The Secret of the Old Mill/The Haunted Fort Hardcover – 1 May 2004
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About the Author
Franklin W. Dixon is a pen name used by a variety of authors writing for the classic series, The Hardy Boys. The first and most well-known "Franklin W. Dixon" was Leslie McFarlane, a Canadian author who contributed 19 of the first 25 books in the series. Other writers who have adopted the pseudonym include Christopher Lampton, John Button, Amy McFarlane, and Harriet Stratemeyer Adams. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
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Frank and Joe Hardy are anxious to help their father, famous detective Fenton Hardy, on another case. It just so happens that he is working on a case involving smugglers in the Hardy’s home town of Bayport. His assignment to his sons is simple, take his telescope and see what they can observe in the bay. He even recommends an abandoned house on a cliff that will give them a great view.
Frank and Joe grab their friends Chet and Biff and head out. They observe something strange happening in the bay, but before the can get back to report to Mr. Hardy, they hear a cry from inside the house, someone steals part of the telescope, and they witness an attempted murder. Is any of this related to the smuggling?
I’m sure I read this book as a kid, but it’s been years, and I didn’t really remember much of what happened. I found myself enjoying the story as it unfolded. Yes, it has some of the typical Hardy Boys weaknesses, like the characters always making the right deduction right away, but it’s fun. What really struck me with this book is how long the climax is. We pretty much have everything figured out by three quarters of the way through the book; it’s just a matter of seeing if the Hardys can bring the criminals to justice.
Another weakness of the series is the cardboard characters. There are attempts to give each character some personality, but it’s mostly superficial. Yet, I had probably read over 30 of them as a kid before this started to bother me, so obviously, it’s a minor issue. We actually see quite a few of Frank and Joe’s other friends in this book, at least for a scene or two. I was also struck by the fact that we get a couple of chapters from these friends’ point of view. This is the only time I can remember it not just being Frank and Joe we followed.
I’m mostly familiar with the edited versions of the story from the late 50’s and 60’s. The most dated thing in these version is the pictures. I can’t imagine any kids these days wearing ties on a regular basis. I doubt that any of the kids picking up the book today will care. They’ll get caught up in the action.
While these books will never be confused with great literature, they are still fun to revisit, and today’s kids will enjoy reading them as well. The House on the Cliff is another example of that.
I'm still reading a UK paperback edition from the 1970s, and I'm aware this isn't the original text - most of the books being 'updated' in the 1950s, and this one being adapted for the British reader from the original US English. It's not just the spellings that seem to have been changed, but the language used too - I'm suspicious of 'Welsh Rarebit' for example (though haven't got a copy of the 'original' text to compare).
It introduces the characters with broad strokes - there's not a lot dropped in to differentiate Frank and Joe after the first chapter, where one is shown as being slightly more reserved than the other, but I was surprised by how many of the recurring characters make appearances in this first story.
The adventure itself is quite simplistic, and there are places where it felt that the author had tried to keep things a little too realistic, with the Hardy Boys themselves not being present for a big part of the action - they, and we the readers, only hear about it second-hand. It didn't quite go how I vaguely remembered, with there being at least one scene which looked like it was setting something up that later turned out just to be there to add a coincidence that helped the plot along.
Overall though I felt it still held up as an adventure story, perhaps nowadays for a younger audience than originally intended, and it was an interesting diversion to revisit the brothers for an hour or so.
The editors who cut down the originals to the 180 page formula of this particular book have mostly done a good job. I read it with some nostalgia as I recognised the familiar places from my youth. However, it does seem that a lot has been lost in the transition from those earlier versions.
The picture on the cover of this laminated edition probably says it all as the reader is taken out on to Barmet Bay once more and the title confirms that there will be villains operating from a seemingly remote location.
The Hardy Boys and their father are caught and tied up. They make their escape in time-honoured fashion. The various school chums like Chet and Biff and Tony all make their usual contribution. Callie and Iola scarcely make it on to the page never mind into the action.
There is no doubt that the very early stories are the best ones but the full versions are the ones that actually linger a bit in the memory. However, discovering this old reduced copy has given me a taste for the old places and the original plots.
Keep writing more Hardy Boys books
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