The Hardy Boys Volume 2 – The House on the Cliff
Pros: Very entertaining read; One of Frank and Joe’s best adventures
Cons: Nothing that I haven’t said before…or plan to discuss here :p
Hello, everyone! Yes, it is I, mrroland, and I’m back at VeryHelpful.net (it really is very helpful, too) to bring you more “Hardy Boys goodness.” This week’s edition is The House on the Cliff, Frank and Joe’s second outing, and it truly turns out to be a family affair….and, quite a good read. More on this thriller in a moment, but first, let’s get the housekeeping out of the way:
Stuff I’ve Said Before
Frank, aged 18 with dark hair, and blond, 17-year-old Joe Hardy are sons of the famous private detective, Fenton Hardy, who made his reputation as a “crack” detective working for the NYPD. Frank and Joe live in the town of Bayport, USA–somewhere on the coast of New Jersey (hard to believe they may have grown up in the same town as Snooki, isn’t it?)–and are both seniors at Bayport High School. As you may have ascertained by now, they are following in their father’s footsteps as amateur detectives…and aren’t too bad in their own right, either.
Please note: As a child, Frank missed a full year of school due to an illness.
In addition to their father, Frank and Joe live at home with their mother, Laura (she is hardly ever given anything to do in these stories) and their irascible Aunt Gertrude who always has dire predictions of gloom and doom awaiting Frank and Joe…but “is secretly proud of their sleuthing abilities.”
Chet Morton is the Hardys’ best friend. He is a bit chubby, and quite fearful–but a loyal friend. Chet, in addition to providing comic relief, usually has some new hobby that always manages to tie in to the Hardys’ latest case.
Tony Prito and Biff Hooper are two other very close pals of Frank and Joe. Tony’s dad owns the Prito (how original) Construction Company and Tony, himself, has a boat: The Napoli. Biff (real name is “Allen”) is the nephew of a famous boxer–FWD forgot who, apparently–and provides much-needed muscle: “Many a criminal had felt the iron of Biff’s wallop.”
Jerry Gilroy is the “Wedge Antilles” of the Hardy Boys universe. I call Jerry “the Wedge Antilles…” because I have always (not really) thought the two characters have a lot in common: We do not know their respective back stories; they only show up every now and then–yet survive their series’ entire run. I still maintain Jerry has his own set of adventures that George Lucas, er, Grosset & Dunlap, have failed to cash in on. Maybe someday.
Finally, the Hardys’ romantic (if you want to call it that) interests are: blonde-haired Callie Shaw and Iola Morton (Chet’s raven haired sister). “Vivacious” and “fun” is what we are told about them. It seems to be true.
Pssst: If you want the inside scoop on Franklin W. Dixon, check out my review of The Tower Treasure, ok? But, I warn you, it’s not for the faint of heart.
The House on the Cliff
Briefly: Frank and Joe, fresh off of solving their first case, are asked by their father to investigate a group of smugglers operating in the area….And here we thought Bayport was a quiet, friendly, seaside town….Frank and Joe are on it!….They get the gang back together and head to Telescope Hill to um, use their telescope (I know, I know *sigh*) to spy on any and all smugglers operating in Barmet Bay….Sure enough, an explosion occurs (I’m not explaining: READ the book!) aboard a merchant ship out on the water, and a man almost gets killed–except for Frank, Joe, and Co saving the day….All clues as to who caused the explosion point to an evil dude (Public Enemy #1) Felix Snattman, and his gang of goons….Frank and Joe head back to Bayport….Well, first of all, they drop the rescued dude (whose name is “Smith” ….right) off at a farm house for treatment….It’s the 1950s, folks, no Obamacare as of yet….Mr. Hardy goes missing….Clues now point to a “house on a cliff”….The Hardys and friends investigate, but Mr. Hardy is nowhere to be found….But, one clue, a blood-stained cap, does turn up….Uh-oh….Frank and Joe (and Co.) decide to, work with me, investigate the cliff, itself….They then meet Felix Snattman….But this isn’t the scary part….And, I won’t tell you what happens next….Not even the part where Biff strips (essentially) naked in front of a large group of people in order to get a bag of drugs………….
* This is a children’s book?
……I will say this is one of the most entertaining HB stories, and you should definitely check it out.
The House on the Cliff, once again, is one of Frank and Joe’s best adventures….arguably, their best. Now, yes, the ever-present plot holes are all present and accounted for here, but entertainment-wise, this is a wonderful story. The above “briefly” section only sets up the first 100 pages or so; FWD (see below) did a wonderful job with setting up the plot and then he gives us a (dare I say, epic?) roller-coaster ride of 80 pages or so to the finish. Frank and Joe do find (of course!) their father, but the path they have to take to get him to freedom is quite the harrowing–and exciting–one. FWD does a great job (I cannot state this enough) of conveying the brothers’ desperation to find–and then rescue–their father from the clutches of the smugglers….plus, we get glimpses into the psyche and insight of Frank and Joe as all of the chaos unfolds around them. Excellent work, FWD.
Going further, FWD throws us a curve ball at the story’s end. Some may not be willing to buy it, but I did as a nine year-old–and still do so, today. And, I also like that the subject of drugs was allowed (50+ years ago) to be included in this story. Certainly, no great detail is given, but that isn’t important….the realism it adds is.
So, in conclusion, this is a wonderful story with a terrific 1950s “feel” of adventure to it. Check it out sometime, okay?
Thanks for reading!
The Hardy Boys Volume 2 – The House on the Cliff
*The House on the Cliff was originally published by the Stratemeyer Syndicate in 1927, and was written by Leslie McFarlane. The revised, updated edition reviewed here was published by Grosset & Dunlap in 1959, and written by Harriet S. Adams. Thank you, Wikipedia.
**The House on the Cliff review was originally written by mrroland in 2012, and published on Epinions (RIP). This revised, completely brand-new review was also written by mrroland in 2015, and published on VeryHelpful.net.