The Hardy Boys: The House On The Cliff (1927/1959) – Franklin W. Dixon

The second adventure of Frank and Joe Hardy, sons of the Bayport detective Fenton Hardy, sees the boys taking on smugglers on the edges of their hometown, just outside the local police’s jurisdiction. Once again, the fast-moving story is more of an adventure than a mystery, and it also seems like most of the adults in Bayport, especially those in authority have no problem leading minors into danger.

Fenton asks the boys to use his telescope out at the point to keep their eyes on a boat that may be smuggling drugs, but a troubling, perhaps ghostly encounter at a deserted house on the point, leaves them bereft of the telescope’s lenses and the tools for their motorbikes!

When Fenton continues his investigation, he vanishes, his wife, Laura is anxious, but also knows there will be no stopping the boys from running down leads with their friends in an attempt to discover the secret of the house, the smuggling ring, and where their father is.

This story seems more fast-paced than the first novel, and also twists the narrative by sidelining the boys for almost the entire climax while their friends do a lot of work.

The pair of brothers, as established in the first book, often recruit their friends, especially Chet, to help out on their cases, and this time around is no different, as the boys seek answers to what is going on.

Happily, their father has laid out most of what they know at the beginning of the adventure, though this robs a lot of the story of its mystery. We know from the get-go who the baddies are, including their names, and what they have been doing, the boys just have to figure out how they’re doing it, and alert the authorities.

I will say this, I am delighted at how much fun these stories have remained for me. Sure as I read them now, they aren’t quite as engaging as when I was a boy, and you question some of the actions and motives of the characters but the story rolls along pretty damned engagingly. Why the Hardys would wait until after dinner to go back to check on a man they pulled from the water after an attempt on his life, when he could still be in danger, and the police inviting teenage boys along on what is tantamount to a raid, that’s a little beyond me, but it keeps the boys involved in the narrative.

That being said, I’m still loving the stories, so I’ll be around, which means that I’ll be hanging with Frank and Joe Hardy, when we investigate The Secret of the Old Mill.

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