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Frank & Joe Hardy are the teenage sons of famous private detective Fenton Hardy & his wife Laura. Together, (& sometimes from help with family & friends) they investigate all sorts of crimes & strange occurences....
The Missing Chums was the fourth Hardy Boys book & was originally published in the US in 1928 before being revised in 1962. In the UK the title was changed to "The Mystery Of The Missing Friends" in 1982 when it was published by Armada. It was numbered at 32 in that series, immediately following The Tower Treasure.
The Missing Chums makes use of many of the characters that had appeared in the first three books. Aside from Frank & Joe, recurring characters used in this book are:-
+ Fenton Hardy
+ Laura Hardy
+ Aunt Gertrude
+ Chet Morton
+ Biff Hooper
+ Tony Prito
+ Jerry Gilroy
+ Callie Shaw
+ Iola Morton
+ Chief Ezra Collig
Like the previous book, The Secret Of The Old Mill, this book is set during the summer vacation.
The book opens with Collig asking Frank & Joe to go undercover in an area of Bayport called Shantytown. A number of fights have broken out in the area & Collig asks the boys to try & find out what's stirring up the men that live in the area.
They decide to take a look at Shantytown, taking Biff & Chet with them in their boat, the "Sleuth" which they had received in the previous book, The Secret Of The Old Mill. Whilst on the water there's a close collision with a boat called the "Black Cat".
Later, the boys overhear a suspicious conversation when they pick up their fancy dress costumes for a party that Callie & Iola are throwing. On the way to the party the boys witness a bank robbery & give chase although the thieves ultimately escape.
After the party has ended Biff & Chet disappear and the rest of the story is taken up with trying to link the bank robbery, the fights in Shantytown, the near collision with the Black Cat and the disappearance of Chet & Biff.
One of the nice things about this book is that the absence of Chet & Biff for much of the story allows Jerry & Tony to feature a bit more & to play more of a role in the story.
Overall though, there's a bit too much running around for my liking, making this an average Hardy Boys tale rather than a good one.
# Hardcover: 192 pages
# Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap; New edition edition (1 April 2002)
# ISBN-10: 0448089041
# ISBN-13: 978-0448089041
The Missing Chums is one of my favourite Hardy Boys books, the immense collection of adventures for the young adult from Franklin W Dixon, the pen name for Leslie McFarlane. The first 3 Hardy Boys books all featured the Hardy brothers Frank and Joe and their collection of friends as they help their supersleuth dad solve crime after crime and get caught up in other crimes themselves.
The Missing Chums aims a little bit closer to home for the brothers as they are targeted whilst out if their boat, another boat attempting to ram them. Later, two of their friends disappear after a costume party, and it is up to FRank and Joe, with help from their dad, to find out who is after them and their friends. The mystery heightens as the Hardys experience their first case with true personal roots.
The book is as well written as the other books in the series, and is aimed at young adults. What I like about this one is that it goes somewhat against the grain of the first three books, allowing a bit of a difference for the reader. One of the problems with a series of books featuring the same characters is that they can all blur into one and make it hard to differentiate between them, but Dixon does well by developing the characters further in this one, as well as using the boat they acquired from the third one, providing a little continuity as well as plot direction change.
I highly recommend reading the Hardy Boys books. There are hundreds of them, not all penned by Dixon but by various authors throughout the years, and they are on the whole very good. There are a few bad ones, but this is one of the best. The Missing Chums is available from amazon.co.uk for £4.50 or if you want a hardback copy it's selling for £8.96 brand new.