Most helpful positive review
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2005
In each of the first three Hardy Boys stories the author raised the ante with increasing danger for the boys and their father. In this story we have the boys threatened with guns and their father caught in an explosion. There also appear to be multiple mysteries from the beginning of the book.
Chet Morton, a good friend of the Hardy boys, is on his way to purchase a new microscope when they save a boy's life. The boy, Ken Blake, is a delivery boy for Elekton Corporation, which does top secret work on military rockets. After finding Ken's package, he is on his way to complete his delivery.
Shortly after saving Ken's life, the boys see Oscar Smuff, who thinks he is a detective, trying his cartoon best to shadow a man with a suitcase. Soon Oscar Smuff attempts to arrest the man, but then just as quickly backs down. Though Smuff had the wrong man, the boys soon learn that there is a counterfeiter operating in the Bayport area. Shortly after, the boys pick their father up from the railroad station and learn that he is working on a case that he is unable to talk about. Through much of the book we wonder whether their father is working on the counterfeiting case, and I will leave the reader to discover the rest.
Soon after, the boys spot a mysterious character riding away from their house on a bicycle, late at night. The boys try to run after the mysterious character, but are unable to catch up. What they discover is a note in their mailbox that says that the case should be given up, or there will be danger for the Hardy family.
We soon learn that the Elekton facility is new, and Elekton refurbished an old mill to act as part of the guard house for the new operation. We soon learn that there is something unusual going on in the old mill, though whether the unusual activities seem to have nothing to do with the counterfeiters. However, one day Ken Blake goes to the hardware story of Tony Prito's father and helps a man in a van pick up some materials, and the money that Ken Blake uses to pay Mr. Prito includes a counterfeit twenty dollar bill. The Hardy Boys do not believe Ken is involved in the counterfeiting operation, but they are wondering how Ken came into possession of the bill.
As the story evolves, we learn the old mill has a unique warning system, a hidden room, and a secret tunnel. We also learn that there is more than a single mystery in this book, which makes for interesting reading as the reader attempts to guess who the bad guys might be, and what their motivations are.
As in the previous story, their father is again in a dangerous situation and faces the possibility that he might be seriously injured or even killed. At one point things even look serious for the Hardy Boys. However, the crooks always seem to forget that the Hardy Boys and their friends are highly resourceful and work as a team, and just when things look the darkest the good guys arrive.
The exciting conclusion of this book involves a show down between the criminals and the Hardy Boys, and the criminals have a gun. It turns out that a portion of the mystery involves a nefarious plot that the reader can have the pleasure of discovering.
The Hardy Boys have been revised since their original publication number of decades ago. While the original stories may have been too outdated for modern children, the revisions have weaknesses in that some of the more interesting parts of the stories were removed as part of the revision. The stories could use another revision to restore the depth of the stories and provide some modifications of the stories for current audiences. For example, in this story Chet could be purchasing a new computer.
While the Hardy Boys have not aged well, as reading material for an increasingly younger audience they are excellent. The stories were once recommended for children ages 10 to 14. As children are exposed to more violence and seem to require greater levels of stimulation, the recommended age range has move to 9 to 12. I think any child capable of reading some of the challenging words in these books will enjoy them, regardless of how tame most of the action may be. Once a child has reached age 12 or so the stories may be of less interest, but given the combination of mystery and action, these books remain good safe choices for parents who want to know what their children are reading.