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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 Mystery Of The Samurai Sword was published in the US in 1979 & was the sixtieth in the series. The book first appeared in the UK in 1980 & was numbered 58 when it was published by Armada.
Reclusive Japanese businessman Takashi Satoya is visiting the USA to conduct a business deal & Fenton Hardy has been hired as his "security adviser". However, when Satoya's limousine reaches his hotel Frank, Joe & their father discover that Satoya has vanished & that they aide who was travelling in the back of the car with him has been drugged!
Later a valuable samurai sword, said to have belonged to Satoya is stolen & our intrepid sleuths discover that the sword is being offered for sale to other people who were intending to bid on it at auction. If that wasn't enough Fenton Hardy finds himself pulled off the Satoya case & Frank & Joe find themselves mixed up with a local motorcycle gang and some Japanese gangsters.
Then, to complicate matters further, the nephew of Satoya's closest friend arrives in Bayport & accuses Satoya's aides of substituting the real Satoya for an imposter.......
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
By the time the previous book, Night Of The Werewolf was written the Hardy Boys series had passed it's fiftieth birthday. In the US, Grosset & Dunlap, who had published the first 58 books lost their contract with the Stratmeyer Syndicate to Simon & Schuster. The books were still being penned by a number of ghost writers, all using the Franklin W. Dixon pseudonym.
I clearly remember ordering this book from a book club at school when I was 11. I can also remember thinking, at the time, that it was a rather average book & that some of the other volumes surrounding it like The Pentagon Spy were so much better. Re-reading it again as an adult my views haven't changed. It is an average entry in the series & is probably enough to keep most fans quiet. If a child was given it as an introductory book to the series then I wouldn't be at all confident that they'd be keen to read anymore in the series.
One of the nice things about the series as a whole, regardless of the quality (or lack thereof) of the plot & narrative is the amount of information you can pick up from them. Nowadays, of course, children can access the internet & find information on a whole range of subjects but, pre-internet, you could pick up facts & information on a whole range of subjects reading books like The Hardy Boys series. No surprise then, that this book contains bits of information about samurai swords, feudal Japanese culture, ninjas, martial arts etc.
Plotwise the story never particularly grabs you that much. The Japanese characters are mainly "impassive" & we don't find out very much about them so they remain little more than names on a page. There's a dancer named "Warlord" & a collector named Humber who are better characterised but they don't appear enough in the narrative to make a major difference. Part of the weakness may derive from the fact that Satoya disappears in less than 10 pages after the start of the book. The reader hasn't had time to know him & the little snippets of information that his aides reveal don't make you care whether he gets found or not. All in all this is, as I said, a rather average book. Better ones were to come.
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: 0448436973
# ISBN-13: 978-0448436975
The 60th Hardy Boys book provides just about as much of a 'middle of the road' in the series as you are going to get. The plot is intriguing yet not fulfilled to its potential, and the action is decent enough, but the scripting and the language tone it down somewhat. What we are left with is a decent book that Hardy Boys fans are likely to really enjoy, but others will likely see the book as okay but nothing special. Some are likely to wonder why they bothered and what the fuss is with the Hardy Boys anyway.
The Hardy Boys are brothers Frank and Joe Hardy, sons of supersleuth Fenton Hardy. They have previously had 59 literary adventures, and miraculously seem to have time to fit them in to their school holidays and weekends. The brothers are teenagers, and still at school, although I think even the writers of the books are starting to think they should age the boys a touch to keep with a little reality!
The books are written by a series of ghost writers and released under the pseudonym Franklin W Dixon, and have been from the very first book, when the ghost writer was Leslie McFarlane, who wrote the first 20 or so Hardy Boys books. This particular ghost writer seems to have given us a story full of potential that sadly falls just short, as Frank and Joe find themselves pressured to solve a mystery in order to preserve their father's reputation as a detective. When a Japanese businessman Fenton is protecting disappears, the brothers launch into action to save their dad's rep just as he has saved their lives in countless situations.
The story is effective, and as a Hardy Boys fan, I did enjoy it. I much prefer the stories which seems to make a bit more sense it terms of the involvement of teenage boys, and this is slightly more believable than a lot of books preceding it. However, it doesn't deliver the punch you expect it to, and this is a disappointment. The books are designed for the target audience of teenage boys, and perhaps things were toned down a bit and the backburners put on for exactly this reason.
Either way, the book is still a decent read, good enough for a Hardy Boys book, but nothing special. It is currently available from amazon.com for around th $7 dollar mark. It is harder to find over here to buy as there were less publications of these later Hardy Boys books than the previous ones.