The Hardy Boys Collector’s Edition by Franklin W. Dixon

I’ve read this collection before. A long time ago. And I was still able to remember some of the details! So the mystery wasn’t as much of a mystery to me. I still enjoyed it though and was thoroughly entertained. 

The Hardy Boys are great. Frank and Joe are like the dynamic duo. They have fun and have a penchant for solving mysteries. And this love seems to stem from their retired cop father and loving mother. Love it. 

This collection concludes my foray into Nancy Drew and the Stratemeyer Syndicate. Well, that is unless more of these syndicate books happen to fall into my lap 😉

The Caribbean Cruise Caper (#154)

The Hardy Boys are invited by a teen magazine to be advisors in an amateur detective contest they are sponsoring. The contest is being held aboard a yacht traveling through the caribbean. From the onset, problems arise. It seems that someone is trying to bring the contest to an abrupt end. With each antic getting more dangerous. Luckily, the Hardy Boys are on the case.

What I particularly like about this story was the mystery within a mystery. The other teen detectives were able to see firsthand how the Hardy Boys work together. The dynamic duo bounce ideas off of one another, they tackle different aspects of the case, effectively working together. 

An entertaining trip!

Daredevils (#159)
The Hardy Boys and their family are helping an old family friend, Terrence McCauley. Terrence is a young stuntman working in Hollywood, California. And someone seems to have it out for him. Danger is lurking everywhere, not just on the sets. Who is trying to hurt him and why is what the Hardy Boys have to figure out.

This is a fast-moving, action-heavy mystery. The Hardy Boys have to work hard to keep Terrence safe. But doing so puts their own lives at risk, as they quickly find out. An exhilarating story, for sure. Although, the discovery of the who and why is a bit anticlimatic, in my opinion.

There was a line in this book that made me laugh. Frank Hardy has just confronted a suspect. As he’s getting ready to leave, he says: “Then you’d have to start looking for a new job… I hear they need ghostwriters for kids books.” Ha! Don’t you just love that self-awareness? Kudos to the writer! 😀

Skin and Bones (#164)
The Hardy Boys are vacationing in San Francisco. They’re staying with Sergeant Chang, a friend of their father’s. The boys are quickly involved in a mystery when Cody, Sergeant Chang’s son, confides that he needs their help. His store Skin and Bones, which specializes in exotic animal specimens, has been robbed and ransacked multiple times. Cody has also been receiving threatening emails. He’s hesitant to tell his father, so he wants the Hardy’s to uncover what they can.

This was an interesting little mystery. From the onset the boys have a likely suspect. Although, certain things don’t add up. And before they know it, the real culprit is unmasked. But not before everyone’s life is put in danger. 
While the story was entertaining, I didn’t really like how the case was resolved. I mean, they figured out who the real criminal was after he took a gambit and showed his hand. Which is probably why criminals always get caught. Taking unnecessary risks. Hm. 

Final Thoughts
As I said in the beginning, this is my last Stratemeyer book. And. This is also my last review post of the year! 😮 Seems a bit apropos that I end my reviews of the year with a nostalgic read 😉

The Bobbsey Twins by Laura Lee Hope

The Bobbsey Twins! I had never read one of these books before. But I’ve heard a lot about them. Or so I thought. Because imagine my surprise when I realized the Bobbsey Twins are 2 sets of twins. 2! 12 year olds Bert and Nan. And of course, 6 year olds Freddie and Flossie.

This is remarkably different from the other Stratemeyer Syndicate books. For one thing, the kids are super young. The Dana Girls, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys are all older teenagers. Second, the twins have both parents. Both! They’re not orphans or have only one parent. Wait. The Hardy Boys only have one parent, right? Hm, I’ll find out next week 😉

The Bobbsey Twins and the Cedar Camp Mystery (#14)

Originally written by: Howard R. Garis (1921); Rewritten by: Grace Grote

 Despite their young age, these kids are true amateur sleuths. When their father receives a strange message from the man taking care of their land in Canada, the family sets out to investigate. In Canada, they uncover a gang of gold mining thieves, and rescue a kidnapped man.
Fairly interesting. The parents help their kids along the way. They give permission and when necessary, accompany the kids on their sleuthing endeavors. The twins are incredibly responsible and take care of one another. That was rather sweet.
At times I rolled my eyes at some of the things that happen. But I did like this book. For the most part.

Now, on to the next one!

The Bobbsey Twins Camping Out (#16)

Originally written by: Howard R. Garis (1923); Rewritten by: Mary Donahue (1955)

Mr. Bobbsey is having problems with some lumbermen. So he and the family head to their bungalow to try to resolve the problem. While there, they also attempt to find a runaway circus bear.
This was an interesting little story. It wasn’t as serious the book before. In the sense that, this story revolves more around the family’s mishaps while camping. 

In the background, we have the missing bear. Bert keeps the bear story secret but fear and guilt make him nervous. When he finally confesses what’s been bothering him, the family gather more information. They then attempt to capture him. I actually liked this part of the story. Added a bit of whimsy to the book.

The conclusion of the main problem was quickly resolved in the end. Honestly, it was such a cop-out. Obviously the dispute with the lumbermen added a layer of danger to the book. But with the way that plotline concluded… smh. They made too much out of nothing. 

Anyway, it was a fairly entertaining story.

Final Thoughts
I didn’t realize The Bobbsey Twins were part of the Stratemeyer Syndicate until after I finished reading Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her by Melanie Rehak. Then imagine my surprise when I was dropping books off at a Little Free Library and I find these 2 books inside. Kismet? 

So I had heard that the original Bobbsey Twin books were extremely racist. But I didn’t see that in these revisions. Thank goodness!! Having never read these books, I really enjoyed them! I’m actually thinking of gifting them to my niece for Christmas 🙂

Nancy Drew (#53): The Sky Phantom by Carolyn Keene

Written by: Harriet Adams (1976)

Nancy, Bess and George are vacationing on a ranch in the midwest. While Bess and George aim to improve their horseback riding, Nancy is attending a nearby flight school. During one of her lessons, she and her instructor encounter a mysterious plane. When they investigate, they discover the plane belongs to a pilot that has been missing for some time. Of course, Nancy quickly begins to hunt for clues.

This was a strange one. It was oddly political. In the sense that revolutionaries are planning some kind of attack. What kind of revolutionaries? I have absolutely zero clue. All I know, Nancy and Ned uncovered a cache of bombs and guns. I’m honestly scratching my head over this mystery. 

Anyway, there were two moments that made my jaw drop to the floor. The first being super depressing. One of the criminals shoots a pony in the leg. The ranch manager gives a eulogy for the pony, before putting it out of its misery. Bess was too overcome and walked away mid-eulogy. But Nancy and George, with tears streaming down their faces, watched the horse die. One of the most depressing things to happen in a Nancy Drew story. 

The second moment was much more drama-filled. Bess became close to Chuck, one of the ranchers. When Ned, Burt and Dave call to tell the girls they’re planning to visit them soon, Bess panics. When George teases her, Bess inadvertently tells her and Nancy that Chuck has proposed to her (!) and wants her to stay on the ranch with him!! 😮 Well, color me shocked! Many books ago, Bess accidentally told Nancy that she doesn’t plan to marry Dave until after he graduates from Emerson. Now, she’s over here contemplating playing cowgirl to some cowboy for as long as they both shall live. The boys arrive and it’s all pretty tense. But Bess manages to get her feelings sorted out and hooray for Dave. The poor sap will never know how Bess did him dirty. 

So… this book. To be honest, I was more invested in Bess’s love life than the mystery. A missing persons case becomes a weird political plot and the mastermind behind it all doesn’t appear until he’s captured. I have no idea who the guy was. He really only popped up for 2 seconds. Dude who are you?? 

These books are getting to be way too much. What sucks is that there are only 3 books left in the original series…

Nancy Drew (#52): The Secret of the Forgotten City by Carolyn Keene

Written by: Harriet Adams (1975)

Nancy’s friends have a surprise for her. They are all going to the Nevada desert to take part in an archaeological dig. The area is also believed to have hidden gold nearby and Nancy endeavors to find it.

This wouldn’t be a Nancy Drew story if another mystery didn’t fall into Nancy’s lap. A Native American woman has 6 ancient tablets that wind up being stolen. She was initially hoping Nancy would help her decipher the petroglyphs. Now, Nancy has to find the thief first.

A few books back, I made the observation that Nancy messed up a dig. Which is true. She dug up old tribal grounds to solve a mystery. And she went about it completely wrong. But this book addressed the issues I had then. This dig is sponsored by a university, so all of the students are taught the proper way to proceed. Hallelujah! Way to right a wrong. 

Speaking of wrongs, there were a number in this story. The biggest one being when at one point Nancy finds a human bone. The crew takes turns unearthing it, string the uncovered skeleton and then proceed to play and joke around with it. Sigh. Do you know how disrespectful that is? What they did is despicable and shows a lack of consideration towards the tribe. No respectable archeaologist would ever allow this to happen. Because it’s wrong on so many levels. 

Anyway, the story is fairly entertaining. Nancy and Ned kiss. A lot. Well, a lot for one of these stories. Nancy and crew find gold and an underwater river in the desert. Oh, and all of a sudden Nancy knows spanish? And, can differentiate between various dialects. Yeah, okay Jan.
Look, I know these are kids books so I shouldn’t take them too seriously. But honestly, I wouldn’t feel comfortable giving this specific book to my 8 year old niece. We’re teaching her to be respectful. And this book doesn’t send that message. Blegh. 

There were parts I really did like about this book. But I simply couldn’t get past all of the problematic aspects. Which is just too bad. It had the markings of a favorite. 

Nancy Drew (#50): The Double Jinx Mystery by Carolyn Keene

Written by: Harriet Adams (1973)

This mystery is a little strange. (When aren’t they)? A stuffed bird is left on Nancy’s doorstep which is only the first in many weird incidents. Nancy believes it is connected to the case she is helping her father with. High-rise apartments are set to be built on private property which the owner is refusing to sell/give up. Mr. Thurston doesn’t want to sell his property because of a zoo and bird sanctuary he has built on it. It is Mr. Drew’s job to stop the city council from forcing Mr. Thurston off his land. And with help from Nancy, he succeeds.

Okay, first things first. The bird. It’s a wryneck bird (like the one on the cover) and apparently superstitious people believe the bird is a jinx. That it’s a sign of ill-omen. Nancy doesn’t know this, but Hannah Gruen tells her. Which then makes Nancy panic and think there’s a bomb inside??

Nancy claims multiple times that she’s not superstitious. She even goes so far as to convince Mrs. Thurston to stop believing in them. Yet, her first conclusion upon seeing the bird is: bomb. At this point, she hadn’t even started working on the case! Then the cops show up and inform her there is no bomb and all is well. How unrealistic is that? No warning? No telling her to stop calling the cops when there is no perceived threat? I call B.S.

And then, oh my goodness. Later on in the book Nancy, Bess and George invite a group of kids to see the zoo and bird sanctuary. So they all pile into her car. There are 9 kids. 9!! Plus Nancy, Bess and George. That’s 12 people in 1 car! Of course, a cop pulls her over on the way. But he lets her go!! He tells her that her car is only designed for 6 people, but since she’s near her destination she can go. As long as the situation is remedied on the way back. 

Again, I call some MAJOR BS!! Speaking from experience, I know for a fact that would not fly. Must be nice to be a titian haired, blue-eyed teenager with a prominent attorney as her father. Or it could be a 70’s thing. Who knows. When did child car seats become law anyway? *googles car seat history* 1971! 

The mystery itself is super straightforward. The bad guys are preying on people’s superstitious beliefs to get what they want. Nancy and Ned fall sick with ornithosis (some kind of bird disease). The big, evil, high-rise corporation is taken down. It’s all in a week’s work. 

Overall, it was a decent story. It’s wild how times have changed though. 

BTW: what is up with these horrible covers lately?