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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 Mysterious Caravan was published in the US in 1975 & was the fifty fourth in the series. The book first appeared in the UK in 1977 & was numbered 41 when it was published by Armada.
Whilst on holiday in Jamaica, Frank, Joe, Chet, Biff, Tony, Phil rush out onto the beach during a storm. They've seen a boat in trouble & think that it may have capsized & that anyone on it may have been washed ashore. What Joe finds however, is a death mask. Helped by their Jamaican friend William, the boys theorise that the mask may have come from a Portuguese slave ship, the Africanus Rex & that it may be the clue to a long forgotten treasure.
A group of treasure hunters obviously think so too as they seem determined to get their hands on the mask, causing Frank, Joe & their friends to leave Jamaica with the mask. Things get more serious when William is kidnapped & the mask is demanded as the price of his release. But it takes a trip to Morocco to force a final showdown with their enemies as they close in to snatch the treasure from Frank & Joe's grasp........
The usual supporting characters who appear in this book are:-
+ Fenton Hardy
+ Laura Hardy
+ Aunt Gertrude
+ Chet Morton
+ Biff Hooper
+ Tony Prito
+ Phil Cohen
+ Callie Shaw
+ Iola Morton
+ Chief Ezra Collig
This is a bit of a so-so book as it has a number of plus & a number of negative points. On the plus side readers are able to pick up a few words of Swahili & are also able to find out snippets about Morocco, the Arab tradition of haggling when purchasing items from the souq, some information about the Berbers, Arab dress etc. It also makes a nice change that the mystery comes to the boys because Joe's found something rather than having a case given to them by their father or being hired by somebody else.
The pace is slightly above pedestrian which is not such a bad thing & there's enough incidence in the plot to hold the attention for the majority of the time. The main thing that lets the book down is the rather rushed ending which is perhaps the most contrived of any in the Hardy Boys books that I've reviewed. The fact that Fenton Hardy also appears in Morocco, seemingly from nowhere, rather ruins things as well. All in all, it's a sold enough book with some negative points. It'll manage to hold the attention of any child but is unlikely to rank in the top range of books they'll want to read again & again.
At the time of writing the book is available in a library binding for 3.65 from Amazon Prime. New & used paperbacks are available from 1p upwards.
# Paperback: 160 pages
# Publisher: Armada; New Ed edition (30 July 1987)
# ISBN-10: 0006928242
# ISBN-13: 978-0006928249
The Mysterious Caravan is the 54th in the series of popular Hardy Boys books written predominantly for teenage boys. The books are released under the pseudonym Franklin W Dixon but are written by a number of different ghost writers.
This particular tale sees our heroes, brothers Frank and Joe Hardy, sons of supersleuth Fenton Hardy, find that adventure comes to them while they are on holiday in their winter holidays. The discovery of a bronze death mask near where they are is just too much for our sleuthing family of Alpha Males to ignore, and before long they are on the track of another international crime that needs solving.
What I liked about this book is that curiosity is the main reason they start the adventure. For once, they are innocently minding their own business when they find the death mask, and the tale takes it from here, making it more believable that adventure could fall into their laps. Usually, we see the Hardys being hired to solve a mystery or find a missing person or do something else that would be better suited to a professional detective rather than a couple of teenage boys. As a result, this tale is more believable, and the characterisation and action is well handled to make it an entertaining read.
The Hardy Boys books are written with teenage boys in mind, and when I was part of the intended audience I thoroughly enjoyed all of them. Now I am a little older, I find the storylines tend to be rather unbelievable. The fact that two teenage boys could be 'hired' to sole international and dangerous crimes seems unlikely, but then, this is fiction and I try not to let this element of it spoil it for me.
is currently available from amazon for next to nothing, as are the majority of Hardy Boys books.