Season’s Greetings and welcome to the December-January edition of The Hardy Boys News.
This month there is a review of “The Clue of the Screeching Owl” as well as the new releases and Spotlite Book “The Clue of the Screeching Owl”.
Visit The Hardy Boys Unofficial Home Page’s Facebook Page for your daily fix of Hardy Boys news & trivia! If you’re not a Facebook member, you can see all the postings on The Hardy Boys Unofficial Home Page.
I’ve recently added a Series Book Sales Page to my SeriesBooks.info site with dozens of series both old and new listed. Check it out!
41: The Clue Of The Screeching Owl – Collectible Editions For Sale
1962 James Buechler (177 pages) – For Sale
Art: Rudy Nappi
The Hardy Boys and Chet are in the Pocono Mountains to locate Mr. Hardy’s missing friend, a retired police captain, and solve the mystery of spooky Black Hollow.
Description of current edition from Amazon.com: When dogs and men suddenly disappear, and strange screams fill the night, fantastic stories of vengeful ghosts are almost believable. It is these strange happenings which bring Frank and Joe Hardy to the Pocono Mountains to help their father’s friendsolve the mystery of Black Hollow. But when the Hardy boys and Chet Morton arrive at Captain Thomas Maguire’s cabin on the edge of the hollow, he has disappeared. Frank and Joe are determined to find the captain, despite Chet’s misgivings after a night of weird and terrifying screams. Strangely, it is a small puppy that discloses a most unusual and surprising set of circumstances, involving a mute boy, an elusive hermit, and a fearless puma trainer.
Detective brothers Frank and Joe must figure out who is sabotaging their school talent show in the fourth book in an all-new, interactive Hardy Boys chapter book mystery series.
Frank and Joe Hardy are excited to compete in the annual Bayport Elementary Talent Show. Frank is going to work behind the scenes, and Joe wants to show off his sweet juggling skills.
But during the first rehearsal, strange things start to happen—their friend’s trumpet is filled with bubbles, someone’s backing track is switched to croaking frogs, and a strategically placed batch of hair dye gives one of their classmates a bad hair day to remember. Can Frank and Joe figure out how to stop the pranks before the curtain falls early on the show?
Box Set #1 – 12/16
For Sale: Paperback
Illustrated by Matt David
Join detective brothers Frank and Joe as they solve exciting mysteries with the first four books in the brand-new interactive Hardy Boys Clue Book series, now available in a collectible boxed set!
Get to the bottom of Bayport’s biggest mysteries with expert kid detectives, Frank and Joe Hardy! Follow the clues to find the totally awesome-and mysteriously missing-video game system, figure out what happened to their baseball team’s top secret playbook, track down Joe’s water-skis, and uncover the talent show prankster with the first four books in the fun and engaging Hardy Boys Clue Book mystery series!
Hardys In Review
The Clue of the Screeching Owl
Review by Steve Servello
I have recently finished reading The Clue of the Screeching Owl at work (during lunch and breaks). This re-reading confirmed my belief that not all the good Hardy Boy books were written early on. This book is one of the better books and was released during the height of my Hardy Boy reading (1962-1968).
The first thing that attracted me to this book was the incredible artwork on this 4th “Picture Cover” (PC) edition. For the most part, I did not like those PC’s (especially starting with Whale Tattoo and Arctic Patrol ) that showed a single dominating thing or character with smaller add-ons to flesh the picture out. I’m not really sure that I explained precisely what I meant, that is one of my shortcomings in posting. Anyway, I think this cover does an incredible job of capturing the “feel” of Black Hollow and environs. The dominating “thing” in this case is the head of a screech owl looking down with brooding menace on the Hardy Boys as they gaze backwards in fear while fleeing its baleful stare. The owls visage takes up half the night sky and the dark woods of Black Hollow are an effective backdrop between it and the terrified brothers. While it is true that this is not an actual scene from the book, it does intrigue a prospective reader and in no manner misrepresents the story line or its atmosphere.
The story itself opens with Frank, Joe, and Chet driving through the Amish countryside, en route to the Pocono Mountains. There they plan to meet up with one of Fenton’s old friends, retired police Captain Thomas McGuire. He lives in a cabin at the edge of Black Hollow. The name itself fascinates me. How much more sinister the word “hollow” is, compared to say, “valley”. The captain was concerned about the revival of a witches hex in the hollow, abetted by the tell-tale abduction of neighborhood dogs and the terrifying screams of the vengeance seeking witch herself. Fenton Hardy could not respond to his friends request for help as he was busy on another (was it another) case, in nearby New Jersey, involving smugglers. . The last book I read in this series was smuggler related too (“The House on the Cliff”, a comparison of the original and revised versions). What was slightly unusual here is that the boy’s father does not inform them in person of his latest case. The Hardy’s reflect back on this as the story begins.
Naturally Fenton’s case and the Hardy’s will end up coinciding. No complaint here, it’s part of the series formula and no matter how far fetched, I enjoy it! I note that there is a range of mountains known by different names on either side of the Pennsylvania/New Jersey border. Pocono Mountains in PA and (I forget) in NJ. They are both part and parcel of the mid Appalachian range. As they are contiguous, it has always bothered me that they needed separate names. This is a personal thing and I apologize for bringing it up here…
The 3 youths arrive to find the captain’s cabin empty and under mysterious circumstances (what other kind are there )? Of course meeting Colonel Thunder the wildcat trainer en route (pages 7 & 8), adds a teaser to the plot.
Not only is the good captain missing, but so is Bobby Thompson’s dog, “Skippy”. So down into Black Hollow go our three intrepid sleuths. I kept track of the number of trips made down into the dark bowels of Black Hollow : First : chapter 2 Second : chapters 3 & 4 Third : chapters 7 – 9 Fourth : chapters 13 & 14 Fifth : chapters 17 & 18 Sixth : chapters 18 & 19 I divided the story into two parts : those in or at the edge of Black Hollow and those parts elsewhere (like stranded in their underwear at the outskirts of town). When down in the hollow, one feels like they are detached from the real world and entered into a realm bordering on fantasy. At least I do. I mean there is even a wildcat on the loose and a wild boy. Shades of Bomba!
The only mention of The Hardys’ previous cases is when Joe mentions “The Desert Giant Mystery” (page 17). Getting off topic for a moment, I remember buying that book at the local 5 & 10 store, crossing the square to a place where one could race motorized model cars, and sat in one of the chairs provided for those who like to watch such goings on (like me). I stayed the entire afternoon, hardly lifting my engrossed head, and read the entire book. It is one of those memories that I have carried and wish I could somehow recapture the magic of such moments. Alas … The various screams heard within Black Hollow bear some scrutiny. They are heard in variation on pages 19, 116, and 138 (maybe once or twice more). Some are said to be barn owls, screech owls, witches, wildcats, or human. As it turns out, the smugglers were utilizing the scream or wail of the two owls as signals, in their smuggling operation. There was a scream of a puma (not really wild, but sold to Walter Donner by his brother Bill, the wildcat trainer). It was too vicious for the carnival act. Bill Donner calls himself Colonel Bill Thunder. When Frank and Joe realize that “donner” was the German word for “thunder”, and saw that both Bill and Walter looked identical, they put two and two together and deduced they were brothers (page 90). I guess when I was 8 years old that kind of deductive reasoning struck me as pretty inventive. I’m afraid that at the ripe old age of 45, I think it excessively silly. That along with overhearing Walter Donner and the shifty-eyed lawyer, Wyckoff Webber talk about “attending to the boys” (page 114) and wondering if they were the boys being discussed. Those two incidents are the only negatives I saw in this book. In retrospect, that’s a drop in the bucket, but I thought worth bringing up. I didn’t want you all to think that everything is rosy to me. I do have a discerning eye .
I was surprised that it was Joe who figures out that the Witch of Black Hollow legend was being revived for nefarious reasons (page 37). Usually Frank is the brains of this tandem. One of the most horrifying scenes from this book is when The Hardys believe Chet is dead (pages 167 & 168), in a car crash on the edge of Black Hollow. The calamitous reactions to this news is starkly evidenced on their faces and in their minds. I disagree with Joe’s remark that the Barn Owl is the natural enemy of puppies (page 57). While it is certainly capable of making a meal from small pets or puppies, I don’t believe they are a part of its steady diet. That minor disagreement is more than made up with the follow-up discussion of the differences between Barn and Screech Owls. Very informative. On page 126 Frank retrieves “a bill” from its hiding place in the car, to be utilized in an emergency. This certainly was, as Captain McGuire’s cabin had just burned down and the 3 youths had barely escaped with their lives. This “bill” was used to procure new clothes and lasted them until the end of the adventure. Wyckoff Webber set the fire by the way. I was wondering exactly what denomination that “bill” was. Captain McGuire finally appears on page 159. The title is used on page 162 and Fenton Hardy puts in his inevitable appearance on page 174. In typical Hardy fashion, the two cases are solved as one and all questions are answered. Even the puma is saved from destruction! The wild boy gets a chance at a normal life and Bobby gets Skippy back. I hope Elizabeth Donner doesn’t put up too much of a fight about that. Oh yeah, I hope Captain McGuire had fire insurance! On a scale of one to ten, with ten being the best, I rate The Clue of the Screeching Owl a rock solid 8.5! What do you think?