February 2019 Update

bayport beat
Welcome to the February edition of The Hardy Boys News with a look at upcoming releases and the book of the month, “The Disappearing Floor”.
There was a Hardy Boys article in a recent issue of The Atlantic.
Jenn Fisher of the Nancy Drew Sleuths was kind enough to send me a copy of her magazine The Sleuth which had an interesting article about the Super Mysteries.

New This Month

Hardy Boys Adventures #1818: The Disappearance – 02/19
{“The Vanishing Room” has been renamed “The Disappearance” and given a new plot.}
For Sale: Paperback – Hardcover
The Hardy brothers and Frank’s new girlfriend, Jones, are attending a local comic book convention on the shore. They meet up with Jones’s friend Harper, a fellow comics super fan, on the boardwalk outside the convention. The four of them spend hours running from booth to booth and end the perfect day with pizza at Harper’s short-term rental apartment.
Things don’t stay so perfect, though. On the way home, Jones realizes she switched phones with Harper by accident and she is getting some really scary texts. When they show up at the apartment the next day, they find it totally destroyed and Harper is missing. Frank and Joe start digging into their new friend’s life, hoping to find out where she might have gone, but the more they find out about her, the more mysterious she becomes. Can Frank and Joe find this secretive character? Or has she disappeared forever?

Clue Book 4 in 1Hardy Boys Book Reviews by Nicolas Akmakjian – For Sale

An adult fondly looks back on his childhood treasures: the original 58 Hardy Boys volumes. These were not great literature, but they were never meant to be. They are actually surprisingly well-written for children’s books. The great writer Leslie McFarlane got things off to a terrific start and the series benefited from that great foundation.

Each of the 58 books is reviewed in this book. This content comes from the popular HardyBoysBookReviews.com site, noting who wrote each book, when it was written (and revised), the cover is critiqued, the chums who appear are noted, and what Aunt Gertrude baked for her beloved nephews is gravely noted.

This book expands upon that material, however, to also include notes about the year in which the book was written. What film won the Oscar that year? What was the #1 song? What events happened that year? All of this goes into the mind of the author and you can see that influence in the books. When James Bond shows up in public consciousness, you can absolutely tell in the Hardy Boys. The space race, multiculturalism, post-World War II expansion, the Depression, and, of course, Scooby Doo are all reflected in these books.

These are light-hearted, brief reviews that do not spoil the plot. They are written with humor and affection. If you read the book, the review will remind of the basic plot, but will not reveal the identity of the villain. For that you have to read the book again — and this book will make you want to do just that.

coming soon

Clue Book 4 in 1Clue Book 4 in 1 – 03/19
For Sale: Hardcover

Illustrated by Matt David

Join detective brothers Frank and Joe as they solve exciting mysteries with four books in the interactive Hardy Boys Clue Book series, now available in a special bind-up edition!

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 four books in the fun and engaging Hardy Boys Clue Book mystery series!

This bind-up edition includes The Video Game Bandit, The Missing Playbook, Water-Ski Wipeout, and Talent Show Tricks.

Clue Book #89: Who Let The Frogs Out? – 04/19
For Sale: Paperback – Hardcover
Illustrated by Santy Gutierrez

Detective brothers Frank and Joe must solve a muddy mystery in the ninth book in the interactive Hardy Boys Clue Book series.
Bayport Elementary is hosting a Mud Run to celebrate spring! A particularly muddy part of the town’s park will be set aside for the race and Coach Lambert has even managed to make more mud by using the park’s hoses and shovels. Frank and Joe can’t wait to splash through the muck.
But on the day of the race, the runners are stopped in their tracks by croaking, blurping bullfrogs! Lots of people in the town had been annoyed that the park was being taken over by a bunch of muddy kids. Could someone have sabotaged the race with buckets of frogs?

book of the month: The Disappearing Floor

Hardy Boys Cover Art Hardy Boys Cover Art

19: The Disappearing Floor – Collectible Editions For Sale
Cover Art & Edition Information
Original: 1940 John Button (218 pages)
Outline: Edna Squier (nee Stratemeyer)
Revised: 1964 James Lawrence (176 pages) – For Sale
Outline: James Lawrence
Revision: Completely Different
Art: 1940 Paul Laune
Art: 1962 John Leone
Notes: Original text PC editions are scarce.
The original text edition is generally regarded as the worst written story in the canon.
The Hardy Boys smash Duke Beeson’s (AKA Chief Shining Light Of The Sun-Worshipping Ozonites) robbery gang using the weird inventions of Aunt Gertrude’s former classmate, Eben Adar.
Revised: The Hardy Boys track down a gang of jewel thieves in a mysterious old mansion.

Description of current edition: Once again Frank and Joe Hardy take on a puzzling case when their famous detective father asks the boys to assist him in tracking down a notorious jewel thief and his accomplices. The trail leads to the outskirts of the Hardys’ home town and to a weirdly guarded mansion on the old Perth estate. With their pal Chet Morton, the brothers must tackle the mystery of the mansion heir’s sudden death. A disappearing floor, a huge, savage-looking, hound, a galloping ghost, and a college professor’s startling invention are just a few of the strange elements that complicate the boys’ efforts to solve both mysteries.

Editor’s Review: The Disappearing Floor

Published in 1940 – text by John Button
The Plot: While on a camping trip with Chet, the Boys discover a cave containing stolen bank loot, shortly thereafter, they run into the robbers themselves and also (big surprise here), Fenton Hardy, who is hot on the trail of the robbers. The bank robbing gang is headed by Duke Beeson (aka Chief Shining Light of the sun-worshipping Ozonites.) Several banks are robbed and the Boys trace the gang to the strange house of eccentric inventor, Eben Adar, a former classmate of Aunt Gertrude’s. After several chapters of weird inventions and goings on, the Boys and their father capture the gang.
Comments: Although this story’s weirdness has always endeared it to me and made it one of my favorite Hardy stories, in all honesty I must say it is very poorly written. It is episodic and disjointed and seemingly written without a care to continuity. It stumbles along and doesn’t really get interesting until the last third of the book, when it starts to get weird, almost surreal. The Boys are constantly in motion, going here and there for no apparent reason other than to fill up chapter space. Not one person in the story displays one iota of common sense at any time. The Boys are attacked when they return stolen bank loot, a police officer threatens them with a drawn gun when the Boys, Callie and Aunt Gertrude go to Callie’s parent’s summer cabin, the Boys are frozen solid and set adrift in a row boat, Beeson saves the Boys from a tiger attack. None of these events (along with many, many others) have the slightest bearing on the plot (such as it is!) “Who is Harry Tanwick?” Joe doesn’t know and neither does the reader.
Rating: Original: D-

(and why, after 60 years, it still won’t disappear)
by Mike Humbert

The Disappearing Floor (unrevised edition) holds a special infamy among Hardy Boys fans. Ghostwritten by Dr. John Button in 1940, it has all the literary style of a car wreck; and like a car wreck, you want to look away, but somehow just can’t.
Hardy Boys Cover ArtWhile admittedly there are Hardys stories that aren’t that great, Floor is in a league of its own for sheer weirdness. The plot is almost nonexistent. Bizarre sci-fi gadgetry is prominently featured, along with a Fenton Hardy who seems to appear at will. This is all the more amazing since Mr. Hardy is seriously injured twice during the book. Of course, the oddest thing of all is that this book was ever published in the first place!
It would be easy to put all of the blame on the good Dr. Button, but, in his defense, he apparently closely followed the plot outline provided to him by the Stratemeyer Syndicate. Unlike Leslie McFarlane (the first and best “Franklin W. Dixon”), when Button was told to write junk, he replied: “Yes Sir! How junky would you like it?”
So, having said that, let’s move on to my highly condensed recap of the story, which reads like a spoof, but isn’t; I haven’t exaggerated a single plot point, not even the contents of the canvas bag. I have, however, reworked the narration and dialogue to reflect my own take on the story.

Dark-haired Frank Hardy and his blond brother Joe sat around the campfire, along with their chubby friend Chet.
“Enough camping, fellows,” groaned Chet. “When do we eat?”
Frank and Joe exchanged amused glances. Chet’s tragic eating disorder and the resulting morbid obesity were a reliable source of humor for the two brothers.
“Say, look at this, fellows,” Joe interjected.” I just found this old envelope with the name ‘Harry Tanwick’ written on it. And there’s a hundred dollar bill inside!”
“I wonder who Harry Tanwick could be,” pondered Frank.
“Maybe that’s him over there!” shrieked Chet, and the three ran into the darkness after a shadowy figure.
As the trio charged into the pitch-black wilderness, they suddenly fell headlong through a hole into an equally dark cave. They were now trapped!
“Well, this is quite a pickle, I must say,” observed Joe.
“Still, we seem remarkably fit for having fallen twenty feet onto solid rock,” countered Frank.
“I’m still hungry,” grumbled Chet.
“Hello, boys,” greeted Fenton Hardy, the boys’ famous father. “I figured I might run into you here in this desolate cave in the middle of nowhere at four in the morning. By the way, you haven’t seen Duke Beeson, the bank robber, have you?”
“No,” replied Frank. “But I just noticed that’s there’s a canvas bag with $82,000 in coins sitting here at my feet!”
“Well, bring it along,” directed Mr. Hardy. “After all, how much could $82,000 in coins weigh? I want you boys to take his bag cross-country to the Wayne County Bank. I realize you have no transportation, and are completely unfamiliar with the area, not to mention the fact that desperate criminals will be tracking you down, but what could go wrong?”
(EDITOR’S NOTE: $82,000 in silver coins weighs almost 4,800 pounds. In silver dollars, it would form a stack about 550 feet tall. If those dollars were laid edge to edge, they would form a line about 2 miles long.)

“Say, Frank,” whispered Joe, “isn’t this taxi driver driving a bit erratically?”
“I should say so!” confirmed Frank.
Thoroughly familiar with what to do in this situation, Frank suddenly lunged forward and threw a chokehold on the vehicle’s driver. Despite this prudent measure, the taxi swerved out of control and plunged into the dark, icy water. Frank, Joe and Chet narrowly escaped a watery death, swimming to the surface, while clutching the canvas bag containing $82,000 in coins.

“You boys did a fine job,” congratulated Fenton Hardy, after his sons had once again randomly stumbled upon him. “The whole operation went off without a hitch.”
“Except for our sending a taxi off a bridge and almost drowning,” added Joe.
“Well, yes,” agreed the detective.
“And that crazed mob that attacked us,” offered Frank. “And that we had to resort to a railroad handcar for transportation,” mentioned Chet. “And then–”
“In any case,” interrupted Mr. Hardy, “I want you to return to Beeson’s cave hideout yet again.”
“But we’ve recovered the money already,” Joe pointed out.
“And Beeson’s men have already caught us in there –twice– and threatened us each time,” recounted Frank.
“Yes, boys, but did you realize that one of Beeson’s men is named Louie Butt?”
Frank and Joe exchanged meaningful looks. Their father had a good point. Someone with a name like that had to be up to no good. No butts about it.

The next time that the boys randomly bumped into their father, he was moving at high speed, since an escaped tiger was pursuing him. Fortunately, Joe knew well that the surest way to fell a charging tiger was to bounce a sharp rock off its head.
Quickly abandoning their badly mauled father to the medical authorities, Frank and Joe continued to pursue Duke Beeson. Soon they caught up with him, at which point he effortlessly captured the two brothers.
“Where we takin’ these two punks, Boss?” inquired the gruff henchman.
“To Eban Adar’s house,” grunted Beeson, who was now dressed as an Indian prince, for reasons we need not go into.
Frank and Joe exchanged glances again. Eban Adar was Aunt Gertrude’s oddball acquaintance from her school days.
“Thank goodness,” thought Frank. “We’d gone almost ten minutes without a fantastic coincidence.”

“Okay,” moaned Frank, rubbing his aching head. “Tell it to me one more time. How did we end up in this rowboat?
“When we arrived at Adar’s house,” Joe explained, “ice immediately started forming on us. It quickly enveloped us. Then we blacked out. Then we woke up adrift in this rowboat.”
“Ice,” repeated Frank.
“Yes,” Joe mumbled sheepishly.” I think we were frozen solid.”
“Frozen solid. And now, shortly after, we’re fine. Honestly, Joe! You have to admit it’s pretty farfetched,” commented Frank.
“If you won’t like the answer, then don’t ask the question,” snorted Joe.
“Encased in ice,” muttered Frank, shaking his head in bewilderment. “And now we’re in a rowboat. Makes perfect sense.”

Joe picked up Adar’s telephone receiver and engaged the operator.
“Hello, operator? Bayport 6132, please. Hello, Aunt Gertrude? It’s Joe. No, we’re not dead. No, really. We’re up at Eban Adar’s house. Right. The strange duck from your school. Always hated his guts, yes, I remember. Listen, Auntie, we’ve been scrapping with some dangerous criminals, and they’re running loose around here somewhere, so we were thinking this would be an ideal time for you to come up here for a visit with Mr. Adar and catch up on old times. What do you say? You’d love to? All right then, we’ll see you when you get here. Good bye.”
And Joe then replaced the instrument in its cradle.

“So you see,” Joe announced triumphantly, “Beeson’s cave has a disappearable floor! Just turn that switch and the floor lowers to reveal additional rooms below where the remaining loot is stashed!”
“Amazing!” Frank gushed. “And no one knew about it except Beeson, his gang, the team of engineers who designed and manufactured the hydraulics, the contractors who installed them, the electric company who ran out the high voltage power lines to a cave, miles out in the woods…”
“Yes,” Joe chimed in, “it was well-kept secret.”
Just then, a grubby-looking man in a dark ragged jacket approached the boys.
“Are you Joe Hardy?” he snarled.
“Why, yes, I am,” Joe acknowledged.
Without warning, the stranger delivered a powerful blow to Joe’s midsection. Caught unawares, Joe crumpled to the ground in blinding pain, as Frank watched in stunned disbelief.
“I’m Harry Tanwick,” spat the shabby man. “Now where’s my hundred dollars?”
(Okay, I made up that last bit; Harry Tanwick is still at large after 60 years. Think what the compounded interest on that $100.00 must be by now!)

There you have the plot, such as it is, of the most surreal Hardys episode ever. Inexplicably, Dr. Button was then allowed to helm the next volume: The Mystery of the Flying Express, infamous in its own way for its blatant errors, such as Laura Hardy being called “Mildred.” The only possible explanation I can give for Button’s continued employment was that perhaps Leslie McFarlane had his leg caught in a bear trap, somewhere in the Canadian wilderness.
Be that as it may, The Disappearing Floor continues to hold a special place in the hearts of Hardy Boys fans, in the same way Plan Nine from Outer Space holds a place in the hearts of sci-fi fans. Sometimes if you go far enough into bad, you reach good.

original outline for “The Disappearing Floor”

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