It’s been awhile since I checked out a Hardy Boys tale, so I happily dug back into them this week, moving on to the fifth volume in the long running series, and the further that I got into this one, the more I realized, this one is a western.
Frank and Joe hardy fly out of Bayport to help their father on his latest case, he’s trying to track down a gang of bank robbers, specifically a criminal named Big Al, who may be holed up in a tiny, almost forgotten town, Lucky Lode.
So it’s off to Montana, having heard about some long missing gold from a friend of their father’s. On arriving in Lucky Lode, they learn that their dad has busted a couple of ribs, so it will be up to them to track down the baddies, and perhaps recover the gold for Fenton Hardy’s client.
But it won’t be easy, there are stories of ghosts, empty mines, collapses, amnesia, icy rivers, treacherous paths, and baddies who aren’t afraid of the idea of killing a couple of nosy kids. Yup, the boys have their work laid out for them, and they will be clambering all over a mountain, and the town of Lucky Lode tracking down clues to lead them to Big Al, and perhaps the missing gold.
There’s a lot of gunplay in this one, in the opening sequence, the boys get accidentally shot at by a group of fun loving hunters, and throughout the story, once they hit Montana, everyone seems ready to take potshots at the two boys. There’s even a rigged shotgun set to blow them away when they board a helicopter!
And sure, Fenton is laid up in a cabin with his broken ribs, but even he must realize this is not the place for a pair of teenagers, no matter how clever they are. But he doesn’t seem too worried, sure he advises them to be careful, but he doesn’t dissuade them from going.
You’re left to wonder if they are going to share all the details of this adventure with Mrs. Hardy, and Fenton’s sister, Gertrude, when they get back home.
This story is very much about the boys being out on their own, riding horses and tracking the baddies in the hopes of finding the gold and catching Big Al (while finding out what his connection to the lost gold is). A couple of the regular supporting characters pop up in the opening sequence, but once the Hardys hit Montana, it’s them against nature, and they seem prepared for almost any eventuality.
There’s a bit more of a mystery to this one than the stories that have preceded it. They past books have been straight forward adventures, they know who the villain is, they just have to catch them and figure out a few odds and ends.
This time around, the pair have to track the elusive Big Al, figure out who he and his men are, including the one working as a spy in town, as well as sort out half-remembered maps, horse-riding and a pack of wolves!
It’s a fast-moving tale that rocketed along, and it was nice to leave all the friends behind for an adventure and just focus on the boys. We’ll see what happens next time when the Hardy Boys investigate The Shore Road Mystery!