While on an errand for their father, Hardy brothers, dark-haired Frank, 18, and blond-haired Joe, 17, Hardy somehow carry on a conversation over the roar over their 1920s motorcycles. Their father, Fenton, is a private detective, having retired from the New York police force after a sterling career. Joe says, “I wish we could solve a mystery of our own.”
Be careful what you wish for.
A car nearly runs them off the road. They can’t see the driver’s face, but he appears to be a redhead.
They later come upon his wrecked car. There’s no sign of the redheaded man. They end up at their friend Chet Morton’s house to find someone had stolen Chet’s old car (“Queen”). They surmise the thief used it to replace the car he wrecked. But there’s a catch: this man had brown hair. Wait! Could the “speed demon” have been wearing a wig?
They recover Queen. The news comes that someone has robbed the Applegates at Tower Mansion! The boys assume the thief is the same wig-wearing Queen-stealing man because… well, why not? The Applegates, crusty brother and sister Hurd and Adelia, blame their caretaker, Mr. Robinson, and fire him. Robinson confesses to knowing to combination to the family safe and coming into a lot of money recently. He insists he came upon both honestly and is honor-bound not to disclose the source of his money. Frank and Joe know Mr. Robinson’s son, Perry, from school and don’t believe he is capable of theft. They set out to prove their friend’s father innocent.
The series takes place in the fictional port town of Bayport in an unspecified state somewhere along the eastern coast of the United States. The main character, Frank and Joe, attend Bayport High School, but their academic endeavors seldom get in the way of their sleuthing.
While no one will confuse this with great literature, a redeeming point is that Frank and Joe, despite their almost clairvoyant ability to connect events, nevertheless have to work hard to solve this riddle. They follow a few dead ends, fully convinced they’ve got it this time. This makes the boys less godlike and engages the reader more than if they were simply following the boys to the solution.
On the downside, while Mr. Robinson is out of a job, he’s moved his family to a poor part of Bayport. The boys find his house—the neatest and tidiest on the block—amid dilapidated shacks with ill-clad children running in the yards. The Robinsons don’t belong there! Unlike all the other poor people, who—you know—apparently deserve to be there.
As is expected, all is made right in the end.
The Tower Treasure is the first book in the original Hardy Boys Mystery Series which lasted for some fifty-eight volumes published from 1927 and 1979. Canadian journalist and filmmaker Leslie MacFarlane (1902-1977) ghostwrote some twenty-one of those volumes. Contracted authors, such as MacFarlane, followed an outline supplied by the Stratemeyer Syndicate, a book packager of several children’s series including Nancy Drew, Tom Swift, and the Bobbsey Twins. As are the current Hardy Boys books, The Tower Treasure was published under the penname, Franklin W. Dixon.
In 1959, Harriet S. Adams (1892-1982), a daughter of Edward Stratemeyer, revised the text and shortened the books from twenty-five to twenty chapters. Stratemeyer had passed away in 1930. The story itself remained essentially the same. The first thirty-eight volumes in the series were revised and shortened, and outmoded words updated. Also, racial references were changed to reflect changing times. (That is, the casual racism of the 1930s was replaced by the casual racism of the 1950s…)
Overall, I found this book engaging, even with its faults. There is humor. I enjoyed it, even knowing there are better books out there.
The Hardy Boys Original Series
Who Wrote the Hardy Boys?
Title: The Tower Treasure
Author: Franklin W. Dixon
First published: 1927, rev. 1959