amreading

First Hardy Boys mystery tells of a not-so-distant past

The Tower Treasure

Released 1927

REVIEW. The first Hardy Boys mystery The Tower Treasure was in the words of your grandfather or great grandfather, who read the book when it came out all those years ago (almost one hundred years!), an “exciting page turner”.

The Hardy Boys are from your white American middle class, and it is interesting how this demographic has become less central in literature than it used to be. Now, literature has become more diverse and less white middle class centric.

The Hardy Boys is also conservative. In 1927 a red wig could only be in a woman’s store. Living in a flasher part of the city was preferable to downtown for a white man used to the good life. Mum is in the kitchen and theft should be punished and not argued away as a matter of human psychology that needs addressing. It is on the detectives’ side and the side of the law.

The key characters, two teenage detectives-in-waiting, brothers Frank Hardy and Joe Hardy, have a warm connection to their parents, healthy relationships with their friends, do their studies without complaining, and have a positive, optimistic outlook on life.

The story is mostly warm and inviting. There are appealing characters, and you’ll even understand the judgmental one, and the stock amateur detective is a pain.

In their first mystery the Hardy boys get a lot of help from their father who is a real detective. The story gets narrower as you go along, and it tightens the screws. It is told well and exciting and innocuous.

This first episode in the series of Hardy Boy books, “The Tower Treasure”, shows the value of perseverance. However, the story is implausible at times, yet it has been obvious from the start that The Tower Treasure is a fiction. The often-told jewel theft is an example of children’s writing that one can learn from in terms of technique and plot development, and none too shabbily told. However, when the story resolves there is no sense of awe or even dramatic relief. But generations of readers will find the ending more appealing than I did and find the Hardy Boys has good lessons for children in which it does. And the book is quite suspenseful and exciting.

By Peter Veugelaers

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