“ Genre: Junior Books / Author: Franklin W. Dixon / Hardcover / Reading Level: Ages 9-12 / 192 Pages / Book is published 2005-04-21 by Grosset & Dunlap „
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 Stone Idol was published in the US in 1980 & was the sixty sixth in the series. The book first appeared in the UK in 1982 & was numbered 64 when it was published by Armada.
Frank, Joe, Callie & Iola are eating pizza together at the Bayport Diner when Chet arrives & introduces his & Iola's cousin Vern Nelson. The six of them decide to go the the cinema to see "a monster matinee" & leave the diner just in time to see Vern's car being stolen. They give chase but are unsuccessful in catching the thief. By sheer coincidence the boys father is working on a case involving car thefts. The description of the car thief convinces him that Vern's car was stolen by Red Sluice, a member of the gang he's after.
Laura Hardy asks Vern about his family & his stay in Bayport & he tells her that he stopped off to visit his relatives the Morton's on the way to California. An uncle of his has recently died there & has left Vern a 1913 Liberty Head nickel in his will. There are only 5 of these in existence & the coin is worth over $100,000. Unfortunately the coin has disappeared!
It doesn't take long for Chet to suggest that he, Frank, Joe & Vern go out to California to look into the disappearance of the coin but what sounds to be a fairly simple trip turns out to be filled with danger as the boys tangle with a car theft gang, the plane they're travelling on is hijacked by a man wearing explosives & Joe finds himself in the Atlantic Ocean inches away from a shark with ship or boat in sight to help him........
The usual supporting characters who appear in this book are:-
+ Fenton Hardy
+ Laura Hardy
+ Aunt Gertrude
+ Chet Morton
+ Iola Morton
+ Callie Shaw
This is another average Hardy Boys book. It's nice to see Chet back after his absence in "The Stone Idol", but his cousin Vern isn't that well characterised which is a bit of a shame. The car theft plot thread is an interesting one but ultimately falls apart for me due to an over reliance on luck, timing & coincidence. However, I do remember liking this book a bit more when I was a child so perhaps I'm being a tad unfair judging it through adult eyes rather than from the perspective of the target audience. It is however, hard to take a gang of car thieves seriously who have names like Crafty Kraft, Red Sluice & Big Harry!
The book is quite well paced & there's enough action to keep the reader interested. Joe's brush with the shark which I mentioned above is well set up & makes the reader wonder how he's going to survive, although the resolution is a bit contrived & takes a bit of acceptance. The ease with which the car gang avoid the police on at least two occasions stretches the credulity of the reader a little too.
As usual, there are facts to be picked up by the reader, on this occasion related to coins issued in the United States (Vern's a collector) which are fairly interesting. But, somehow the plot just never really grabs the reader so you're left thinking "that was an okay story" rather than "I enjoyed that one more than the others". So, like "The Stone Idol" this will keep any Hardy Boys fan fairly happy but it wouldn't be a book that you'd use to try & win over any new fans with.
At the time of writing the book is available in hardback for £4.26 from Amazon Prime. New & used paperbacks are available from 1p upwards.
# Hardcover: 192 pages
# Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap (21 April 2005)
# ISBN-10: 0448437031
# ISBN-13: 978-0448437033
Since 1927, Franklin W Dixon has been one of the most popular authors in terms of books written for teenage boys. Having a plethora of books released under the same name for so many years, bearing in mind this is still happening, it is no surprise that the name is merely a pseudonym used by many different ghost writers who put their pens to paper to bring to life the skeleton plotlines that have been laid out for the Hardy Boys adventures since the very first book.
In 1979, the publishing rights switched from Grosset & Dunlap to Simon & Schuster, and although The Vanishing Thieves is the 66th Hardy Boys book published, it is also the 8th since the rights switched, and you may see it advertised as both numbers.
In order to create a little bit more interest, and to avoid the same format book after book after book, the occasional Hardy Boys adventure will feature two different plotlines. They do occasionally converge and become one and the same plot, linking together somewhere along the line, but not always. In Th Vanishing Thieves, our heroes, brothers Frank and Joe Hardy, help out one of their loyal friends who has been with them from the start. Chet Morton is perhaps the better known of the Hardys' friends, and is considered the large and jovial friend. In this particular adventure, the brothers help out Chet's cousin when his car is stolen, as well as search for a stolen valuable coin.
The plot is perhaps a little strained in places, although at all times of reading it's important to realise that the stories and characters were created nearly a century ago and are likely to be outdated, as is the style of writing. It is good that the ghost writers have stayed close to the original style of writing, creating a reminiscent sort of storytelling that is very different to the more modern style of writing that we get from other authors of books for teen boys such as Anthony Horowitz or J K Rowling or the Twilight saga. It would, perhaps, put fans of more modern styles off a bit with some of the language, but on the whole it's not too distant to completely alienate itself from the target audience of teenage boys.
The characters aren't particularly developed in the book, but then over the course of the previous 65 books, there are snippets enough so that fans who have read them all know more about them than they do themselves! Chet Morton is explored a bit more than usual to start with, and his cousin is portrayed quite well on the page, but other than that, it's pretty standard for the Hardy Boys, particularly regarding the villains.
Overall, this is a well written Hardy Boys book with what could have been a very good plot. It is a bit of a shame that the plot isn't developed to its full potential, although a certain amount may have been held back due to the teenage targets the book is aiming at. The Vanishing Thieves, as well as the majority of the newer Hardy Boys books published by Simon & Schuster, is harder to come by over here, but is readily available on the US amazon.com site for a decent price.