The Secret of the Caves, by the legendary "Franklin W. Dixon," is one of my favorite Hardy Boys mysteries as it is a fun read that has a little bit of something in it for everyone...but more on that in a minute. Let's get the house-keeping out of the way:
Same old, same old
The Hardy Boys are Frank and Joe Hardy, ages 18 and 17, and they reside in the fictional town of Bayport, USA (as a teen-ager, I used their ham radio call sign to narrow Bayport down to somewhere along the coast of New Jersey). The two brothers are the sons of Fenton Hardy, the world-famous private detective who made his reputation working with the NYPD.
Frank and Joe are hoping to follow (and, as amateur detectives, are off to a great start) in their father's footsteps...I should add that aside from Mr. Hardy, they also live at home with their mother, Laura, and their irascible Aunt Gertrude.
Frank and Joe are almost always assisted by their best friend, Chet Morton. Chet loves to eat, doesn't enjoy danger--but is a loyal friend regardless, and always has a new hobby to talk about...a hobby that coincides in some way with the Hardy's latest case. This "week" it is finding buried treasures with metal detectors...and the "bad guys" have an underground metal piped connection...that...he...discovers...with...it.
Oh, dear Lord. The absurdity of it all just hit me right now in the moment as I am writing this. Never fear, dear readers. I shall continue.
Two other friends of the Hardys' that feature prominently in their novels are Tony Prito and Biff Hooper. Tony owns a boat, The Napoli (I like the character, but I really don't know what else to say); Biff (his real name is "Allen"; got his nickname from a relative who was a boxer) provides much-needed muscle. Both teen-agers, along with Chet, attend Bayport High School with the Hardys.
This volume even features appearances by (arguably the two most platonic relationships in all of literature--heck, even Nancy and Ned made out every once in a while) the HB's girlfriends, Callie Shaw and Iola Morton (Chet's sister). Callie (Frank's) is blonde; Iola (Joe's) is dark-haired and vivacious.
And, even (as shy as he is) Chet Morton, himself, spends a good deal of time chasing after a girl: Mary Todd. And this is where our story begins....
Briefly (again, with spoilers)
Mary Todd shows up at the Hardys' home...Her brother, Morgan, is missing...The Hardy's promise to help find him...Chet's already in love with Mary...Time to go back on the diet, Chet...Mr. Hardy has a new case, too...Those foreign spies are up to no good in Bayport again...Why do foreign spies always pick Bayport to commit their evil deeds?...Could these two cases be related?...What do you think?...I mean, seriously?...I have already mentioned Chet has a metal detector hobby this time around...The HB's and friends head to Kentworth College (in upstate New York) in search of Morgan...I should add that Morgan is/was a professor at that school...They meet professor Cadmus Quill...Totally agree with you MSIDURI-what a great name!...Cadmus has been brainwashed by the foreign spies, and gets the local frat boys to harass the Hardy's...Big mistake, the Hardy's & Co. crash the frat house and have 'em begging for mercy!...This novel is worth reading just for that!...Morgan left a clue: Rockaway, NY...Chet Morton has a big mouth...Arriving in Rockaway, the HB's, Chet and Biff investigate the Honeycomb Caves looking for Morgan...They find a hermit, instead...Said hermit shoots Frank in the back!!...Oh, quit crying. Frank's okay...A French restaurant comes into play...Chet's metal detector (as mentioned earlier) uncovers a link between the crazy hermit and the (aforementioned French restaurant) Palais Paris...Chet's metal detector gets booby-trapped, and our heroes and heroines almost get killed...A "booby-trapped metal detector?...Oh, the absurdity of it all!...The Hardy's (undeterred as always) go back to the caves and finally uncover all of the secrets of the caves...This includes Morgan...Dude's ok...And also uncover what the evil spies have been up to...Both cases were related...No way!...Way!...The state department works out all the messy details...Chet asks Mary out...Aunt Gertrude gets her spinning wheel...What!!??
I like to have fun (deservedly so) with my HB reviews, but this volume was (and still is) a good read. The book, despite its "scary" moments, has a nice, light-hearted feel to it. Frank and Joe and Company really do seem to be having a good time throughout the entire novel--a good time and mood that really shine through and permeate each and every page.
Very well done, "FWD".
Five stars. Suspend your disbelief and check it out!
Thank you for reading.
The Secret of the Caves
This novel was originally published in 1929 by the Stratemeyer Syndicate, and was ghost-written by Leslie McFarlane. The revised, updated version reviewed here was published by Grosset & Dunlap in 1965, and ghost-written by Andrew E. Svenson. Thank you, Wikipedia.
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