“ Genre: Junior Books / Author: Franklin W. Dixon / Edition: Reissue / Paperback / Reading Level: Ages 9-12 / 160 Pages / Book is published 1991-02 by Pocket Books „
Frank and Joe Hardy are the teenage sons of famous private detective Fenton Hardy and his wife Laura. Together, (and sometimes from help with family and friends) they investigate all sorts of crimes & strange occurrences....
The Roaring River Mystery was published in the US in 1984 & was the eightieth in the series. The book first appeared in the UK in 1985 and was numbered 78 when it was published by Armada.
This particular tale opens with Frank and Joe enjoying some time in their canoe. Who would have thought that across the lake a fellow canoeist is being pursued by a couple of men wearing ski masks? The canoe overturned, the two men attempt to grab the life jacket from the young man but the timely intervention of Frank and Joe prevents this and the would-be robbers are forced to make a run for it.
The young man turns out to be Ollie Fernandez who's just about to go back to the Roaring River in Maine where he and his crew will be competing for a prize to "run the river" in the whitewater rafting race. He tells Frank and Joe that someone's determined to stop them as five life jackets from one shipment have been stolen. Ollie thinks that rival whitewater rafting captain Brian Schmidt, who is camped on the other side of the river to Ollie and his crew may have something to do with this.
By sheer coincidence Chet turns up, announcing that his latest hobby in whitewater rafting just before Ollie tells the boys that he's three men short on his crew. No surprise then that Ollie asks Frank, Joe and Chet if they'd like to be on his crew for the race. Frank and Joe are keen, but then their father phones asking them to come to Washington to help with the case he's on. Ollie's disappointed but Frank and Joe promise that try and make it to his cabin before the race.
Arriving in Washington, Frank and Joe learn that there's been a bank robbery and that a million dollars, some international securities and a diamond ring have been stolen. The thieves broke into a sportswear store then got into the bank via an old tunnel which the store owner claims he knew nothing about. Initial investigations leave the Hardys with a number of suspects and a lead in the shape of one Wolf Erskin who may be involved in the robbery. Frabk and Joe also discover that someone phoned the sports store, keen to get hold of some particular life jackets which had already been sold. Fenton Hardy wonders whether there's a connection with the missing life jackets of Ollie Fernandez.
Arriving in Maine with Chet in tow the boys set to work helping Ollie prepare for the race. But someone is determined to get rid of them as their baot sinks, they face an unfriendly welcome from Brian Schmidt's crew and they're also caught in a man made avalanche. Then later, they discover that there's a traitor on Ollie's crew........
The usual supporting characters who appear in this book are:-
+ Fenton Hardy
+ Laura Hardy
+ Aunt Gertrude
+ Chet Morton
+ Jack Wayne
+ Chief Ezra Collig
This book is perhaps it little less involving than I'd like it to be but, if nothing else, you actually have to give credit to the ghost writer of this particular volume for attempting to do something a bit different with a forumla which had been around for over 50 years by this point.
Readers who have read a decent number of the books will already have realised that the general formula runs along the lines of:- Frank and Joe stumble into / are given a mystery to solve. Usually there will be two different mystery plot threads which will mostly (but not always) be connected. At the end of the book the criminals will be rounded up (usually & unrealistically in about two pages or less).
This particular ghost writer has stuck with the usual "Frank and Joe stumble into a mystery" opening but the route taken with the criminals is a little different to the other books in the series. Firstly, we have a criminal caught rather early on in the story, who may or may not be connected to the gang. The main body of the gang is caught towards the end of the book, but this is before the whitewater raft race which I mentioned above. After that race is concluded it's up to Frank and Joe to unmask the person who masterminded the robbery. That makes quite a nice change for the usual scenario we get in the majority on the books with everyone being rounded up at the end.
On the whole the criminals are fairly well described and there are a decent number of suspects who may or may not be involved with the bank robbery gang. The Roaring River location is well described and is easy for the reader to visualise, although Frank, Joe and Chet being proficient enough in whitewater rafting to compete with another team perhaps stretches credibility a little.
As I said above, this story is perhaps not as involving as it could have been as it lacks a degree of narrative drive. Ollie has four men on his crew, Tarn, Karl, Bruno and George but Tarn & Karl are the only ones that really feature after they've been introduced to Chet and the Hardys which is a little disappointing, as is the fact that Frank & Joe take an inordinate amount of time before they examine Ollie's life jacket, even though they already know that there have been attempts to snatch it before.
Overall though, this is better than some of the other "modern" books (number 59 onwards) and should keep any child in the reading age bracket relatively entertained for a couple of hours.
At the time of writing the new & used paperbacks are available from 1p upwards from Amazon.
# Paperback: 160 pages
# Publisher: Pocket Books; Reissue edition (Feb 1991)
# ISBN-10: 0671730045
# ISBN-13: 978-0671730048
Quite often, with books aimed at teenage boys, you find that plot and characterisation are often given over to a bit of action and adventure. Of late, teenage fiction has started to up its game and extend its tales, focusing a lot more on plot, particularly when we look at such books as the Twilight Saga from Stephenie Meyer. The Hardy Boys remain one of the longest running teenage fiction series, but one thing they often sacrifice is their plots.
The Roaring River Mystery pokes its head up above the majority of its fellow Hardys books and gives us a decent plot with convincing villains. Yes, it's predictable, but it's also enjoyable and has a little more depth than a lot of the previous Hardy Boys books. It is the 80th Hardys book.
Brothers Frank and Joe Hardy are the Hardy boys, and are teenage boys who are often sought out to solve crimes and thwart dangerous crooks. In The Roaring River Mystery, their investigation of a million dollar heist from a DC bank takes them up into the mountains and into the world of white water rafting. This, in itself, gives the adrenalin-fuelled feel to the book, and for once, the concentration seems to be on the plot and not necessarily the adventure.
Characterisation is a little confusing. At times, it is good, with the author commendably taking time to give us a good indication as to what the villains look like. However, this is counteracted by relatively disappointing descriptions of the hereos themselves. It's definitely one with the concentration firmly with the bad guys and how the plot develops.
The Hardy Boys books are all written by ghost writers who follow plot outlines. Since the first book was released in the 1920s, they have been published under the pen name Franklin W Dixon, but there are a number of different ghost writers who put pen to paper to give us the stories. As a result, I find the books are often quite different to each other, and the quality can vary. This one gets a thumbs up from me, others often don't.
In 1979/1980, Simon & Schuster won the publishing rights to the Hardy Boys books. Most of the books they have published are tricky to find here in the UK, but this one is readily available from amazon.com for low prices.