Showing posts with label Hardy Boys. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hardy Boys. Show all posts

09 July 2018

DCS (Dumb Cop Syndrome)

by Steve Liskow

Not long ago, I was critiquing a manuscript and found myself making the same comments over and over.

"Check Police Procedure."   "Check Crime Scene Procedure."  "Check Legalities."

The story was a thriller that relied heavily on two homicide detectives as supporting characters because they suspected the protagonist of a series of murders. That's been done before, and it still works...if you make the details believable. Unfortunately, the writer seemed to base her knowledge of police procedure on Mack Sennett films and Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys.

Maybe the idea of the dumb cop started with Lestrade, the bumbling Scotland Yard officer in the Sherlock Holmes series, or the ineffectual Surete officer in Poe's stories starring C. Auguste Dupin, both of whom would make a rag doll look smart.

Remember the Keystone Cops? Lots of running and jumping and high-speed chases, but not much to show for it. The police in the early Hardy Boys books had names that showed they were the comic relief: Detective Smuff (I almost wrote "Smurf"), for example, and Chief Collig. They both exhibited epic laziness and slightly less impressive stupidity, but little else. They needed the teenagers to drag them in the right direction and hand them the solution to the case they didn't want to investigate in the first place.

Alas, the trope of the dumb cop has become a tradition more admired in the breach than in the observance. Too many contemporary stories still portray the police as idiots, and I stop reading when I encounter the first instance in a MS. Sometimes, I continue reading and suspect that these guys will turn out to be working with the bad guys. That still happens a lot, too, and it's legit if you do it well. But I will only keep reading if the writing up to that point is good. If the prose and the hackneyed idea seem to be a matched set, Sayonara Kid, have a nice day.

If the power of your story comes from the strength of your antagonist, it's no less true of the police as supporting characters. If they are going to be adversaries, major or minor, make them worthy ones. If they overlook major clues, contaminate crime scenes, fail to follow up on conflicting testimony and perform illegal searches, they undermine both your plot and your credibility. Your protagonist deserves better.

If the police are this stupid, how brilliant does your sleuth have to be to solve the case for them (See Holmes and Dupin, above)?

Remember the film version of The Fugitive with Harrison Ford? Tommy Lee Jones was the cop pursuing him after the train wreck, and I wouldn't have wanted him chasing me. Jones was smart, thorough, patient and funny. He looked at everything and missed nothing. We hear his admiration when Kimble (Ford) jumps off the dam into the roiling water hundreds of feet below to escape his pursuers. He even gets a funny sidekick who asks, "Can we go home now?"

He kept his mind open and recognized more and more evidence suggesting that maybe Richard Kimble didn't kill his wife. And he helped the innocent man clear himself.

Jones's character strengthens the story in several ways. First, he adds another layer of tension because Kimble is caught between two forces, the strong and capable law enforcement officers and the hidden evil of the real killer. He gives the story more credibility, too. If a smart cop like this guy thought Kimble was guilty, the evidence that convicted him had to be pretty damning, didn't it? That strengthens the real killer again. Kimble, an escaped convict looking at a death sentence, still doesn't kill anyone to escape, and that makes him look more noble, too.

Imagine how different the story would be if Detective Smuff or the Keystone Cops were on the case.

16 November 2015


by Susan Rogers Cooper

As Thanksgiving rapidly approaches I thought I'd jot down a few things I'm thankful for: my beautiful daughter and her three wonderful children, the memories of a good marriage that lasted over thirty-four years, old friends and new friends, and, yes, books.

I'm thankful for Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys and the Winslow Brothers who enriched my childhood, for Agatha Christie, John Steinbeck and J.D. Salinger who molded my teenage years, and for John D. MacDonald who brought me back to mystery in my early twenties. I'm thankful to Marcia Muller, Sue Grafton, and Sarah Peretsy who taught me that women can write just as hardboiled as any man. And I'll always be grateful to Jan Grape, my mentor, who did more for my career than any agent or editor has ever done. And I'm thankful for those agents and editors who helped mold my work – especially the undisputed queen of mystery editors, the late Ruth Cavin, who once told me – when I complained after she read my fifth book that I hadn't gotten the editing letter from her that I usually got – that I finally sent her one without any big boo-boos.

I'm thankful that I've been blessed with the career of my choice, and that I've had a job that makes me mostly happy – except on those days when all I can do is stare at a blank screen. I'm thankful for the friends I've met since I started this career – Joan Hess, Sharan Newman, the late Barbara Burnett Smith and the late Nancy Bell, Dean James, Charlaine Harris, and so many more who've made me laugh and cry and given me advice that I'll always remember.
This is a good time to remember these things, to count our blessings, and say thank you to those we love. And to stock up on extra books since we'll soon have a day off.

11 May 2014

Literary Rags

by Leigh Lundin

Last week, I joined the ranks of my betters appearing in Ellery Queen’s Something is Going to Happen blog with a little literary history cloaked in a Hardy Boys story. It was fun to write, but that little piece about the most famous mystery author you never heard of, “The Mystery of the Writer’s Ghost,” took a surprising amount of research and included supporting work by Dale Andrews and Rob Lopresti.

I’ll leave it to you to discover how that article unexpectedly ties into this one, but the research of the above led me to focus on a prolific and hugely popular American author I’d read about, but never before read. And to my surprise, reading his works wasn’t work at all. The books are delightful, they are fun and entertaining, not what you might presuppose considering their influence on society.

Exemplars and Archetypes

What other author has the cachet of a man whose writings not only parallels that of Industrial Age America, but so captures the American Dream, he is used as an iconic metaphor?
Horatio Alger, Jr
Horatio Alger, Jr.

Occasionally, we hear comparisons with literary figures and when we do, they’re seldom flattering: an Ebenezer Scrooge, a Mrs. Havisham, a Simon Legree, a Stepford wife. When it comes to authors, I’m hard pressed to come up with any names… except one.

A Horatio Alger story

Horatio Alger, Jr. is the full name, one of many facts I confess I didn’t know. I’ll pretend my ignorance of the man isn’t abysmal although you’ll see I’m taking steps to correct that.

And why didn’t I know? I grew up often hearing the phrase, “His is a regular Horatio Alger story, knowing what was meant, but without knowing who was referred to. We didn’t study the stories in school, they weren’t on our reading list, and I don’t recall seeing even one Alger novel in my family’s children’s library or my father’s extensive book collection. That’s no excuse, perhaps.

Ragged Dick

This week I read the first Horatio Alger story, Ragged Dick, serialized in Student and Schoolmate shortly after the end of the American Civil War in 1867. It’s set in a burgeoning pre-modern New York City: Central Park is partly developed, the grandest marble and limestone buildings stand only a few stories tall, street commerce is conducted in shillings and the Brooklyn Ferry costs 2¢.

What I didn’t expect was such a fast, easy read, a fun and funny romp through the streets of New York. The story’s written on multiple levels and it takes a bit of education to get some of the humor. Arguably, Alger’s stories and characters parallel those of Charles Dickens, although contemporary audiences will find Alger more approachable, less literary, and a hell of a lot funnier. (From a writer’s standpoint, I note that Dickens was paid by the word and accordingly padded out his works. In contrast, Alger wrote sparingly and his stories move considerably faster.)

A century and a half ago, the vocabulary of an educated American was 40% larger than it is now. Glance at schoolbooks of the era; the readers were considerably more advanced than those of today, an issue Common Core takes a stab at establishing in a national standard, weak-kneed as it is. Back in the day, advanced curricula included logic, rhetoric, debate, Latin and sometimes Greek. The nineteenth century was a time when schoolwork meant work. An educated child of yesteryear might well outstrip an adult of today in given topics.

The Streets of New York

Ragged Dick is a playful and slyly humorous story with much of the drollery coming from the titular character. For SleuthSayers fans, there is crime: hustles, scams, and thievery. Our little hero is street-wise but he refuses to steal, although there’s one scene where he out-cons a con-man.

With the success of this novel, Alger must have thought he’d stumbled upon a winning formula. In more than a hundred novels aimed at working class youth (but operating on other levels, as above), he repeated the same plot with the same stock characters.

His books have often been called ‘rags to riches’, but ‘rags to respectability’ is far more accurate, earning a way into the middle class structure of this Land of Opportunity through hard work and honesty. It’s hardly surprising his books fell out of favor and out of print during the depths of the Great Depression. Then as now, when the free market stumbled thanks to greed and fraud, Marxism started to look more attractive. But the economic wheel cycled and Alger’s philosophy received new interest and respect during America’s rebuilding in the 1950s.
Read it and Reap

I may have begun the book fearing a century-and-a-half-old work might be a bit of drudgery, but to my surprise, I enjoyed the novel despite flaws. Like most children’s books prior to the 1950s, it’s morally instructive but not onerously so. Most readers can take pleasure in the novel’s cleverness and humor.

If I had to come up with a tag line for this witty story, I’d hazard this:
If you enjoyed Spanky and Our Gang’s Little Rascals, you’ll love Ragged Dick.
Oh, and you can find the novels free at several places on the web, and don’t forget to check out the Ellery Queen blog that prompted all this.

11 September 2013

The Duck Guy

I, too, like Dale, (post of 27-Aug-2013) read a lot of Hardy Boys books. But over time, they came to seem pretty thin, and they weren't a lasting influence. The guy who was in fact an early and lasting influence is Carl Barks.

Who he? you ask, as well you might. Barks was the Duck Guy. He started in 1942, with "Donald Duck Finds Pirate Gold," and for the next thirty years, he wrote and illustrated the duck comics for Disney. This was a very different Donald from the animated cartoons. Barks reinvented him. He also came up with Duckburg itself, Scrooge, Gladstone, the Beagle Boys, the Junior Woodchucks, and the indispensable Woodchuck Handbook.

There were two basic storylines, the exotic and the domestic, with some variations. The exotics were adventure stories, like "The Golden Man," where Donald hares off to South America in search of the rarest stamp in the world---Barks himself was a homebody: he said he was inspired by back issues of NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC. The domestics were broad comedies, Donald the dogcatcher, for example, or his sudden enthusiasms for some new-found craze, like Flippism (which I can't fully explain, but Barks gets it across in a couple of quick brushstrokes).

He got better, too. Both the scripts and the draftsmanship are more and more sophisticated, moving into the 1950's. Some of the big panels are breathtaking, but often it's in the very small details, something that furnishes a room, or the way a static drawing can show Donald in full physical flight. There's a sense of plasticity, if that's a word, a shapeliness in the framing of the images, and in the lack of clutter, although everything has a specific density. I'd like to call it genius. Barks knew how to make a panel chewy, so you had to look more than once.

And the plots. The familiar taken to a level of insane abandon is a favorite device, whether it's a snowball fight or the hunt for Ali Baba's cave. And it's snappy. There isn't any wasted motion. Most of the stories were told in ten pages, six panels to the page, but there were also more elaborate, extended adventures, that took up a whole issue of the Uncle Scrooge line, which was a quarterly title, not monthly. See below.

WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES came out every month. The lead feature was a duck story, then a Li'l Bad Wolf, and last, an installment of a Mickey detective serial, usually three parts. Back in the day, a year's subscription cost a buck, and any kid could cadge that up in bottle returns. Remember bottle returns? That was when the newsstand price of a comic book was one thin dime, and so was a raspberry lime rickey at the Linnean Drug soda counter. (Showing my age.) Each issue came to the door in a paper sleeve, and it was like opening a bag of potato chips. You couldn't stop yourself. Instant gratification. And the back issues were just as much fun, too.

The thing about Barks is that you can pick up one of those duck stories today, and read it again, and get the same rush. He's that good. It stands the test of time. And in fact, this is the guy who showed me how to tell a story. We outgrow the Hardy Boys, or Nancy Drew, all due respect, but Barks will never grow old. His stuff is still as fresh as when I was in short pants.

03 September 2013

Sing Me a Siren Song

Dale Andrews' very enjoyable piece on the Hardy Boys from last Tuesday evoked a lot of memories for me.  My first completed story, written in the sixth grade, was an thinly disguised Hardy Boys mystery complete with illustrations.   I still have the one and only copy, and it's conclusive proof that my taste for run-on sentences is a congenital condition.

Motif the First
Motif the Second
Even more evocative than the book excerpts Dale included were the book covers he reproduced.  The Hardy Boys editions published in the 1950s and early 1960s had wonderful covers, siren songs done with a brush.  Those covers were always snapshots of some suspenseful moment, often night scenes.  Two recurring motifs were "Hardy Boys Observing Something From a Place of Concealment " and "Hardy Boys Engaged in Foolhardy Enterprise While Someone Sneaks Up Behind Them."   Examples of both types are reproduced here.

A favorite subject of discussion among mystery book authors is book covers.  I could just as easily have typed "subject of complaint."  Bestsellers can complain about the way their books are translated onto film.  The rest of us have to be content with complaining about how our characters are depicted on book jackets.  That's not to say that every author dislikes his or her covers, but it's a lucky writer who's never been let down once by a cover designer.

When my Owen Keane series started, St. Martin's commissioned covers that were dark, moody, and, I thought at the time, rather artsy.  Keane is a failed seminarian whose investigations often involve metaphysics, so I couldn't exactly blame them.  I liked the covers, but I still felt a nameless void.  I didn't diagnose it until Worldwide began bringing the books out as paperbacks.  Then I realized what I'd been longing for:  Hardy Boys book covers.  With the Worldwide editions, I got them.

Compare the two covers for Live To Regret.  They're very similar in subject and composition, but the cover on the right is recognizably from the Hardy Boys school.  The second figure, the follower, is represented only by a shadow.   The implication is that the first figure (a very small one at the top of the boardwalk) has someone sneaking up behind him, as in Hardy Boys Motif #2 described above. 

The sinister shadow would appear often on my subsequent Worldwide covers.  It's an authentic variation on Hardy Boys Motif #2, as the cover on the right demonstrates. 

Hardy Boys Motif #1 (see example on the left) was also represented in my Worldwide editions, by the cover for The Ordained.  That's Keane concealed behind the tree.  It could easily be the cover for The Twisted Claw or The Hooded Hawk.

I had one more brush (no pun intended) with a Hardy Boys cover, and that was when Hayakawa brought out a Japanese edition of The Lost Keats.  Its cover shows Keane leaning against his faithful Karmann-Ghia, which looks showroom new despite being described in the book as being equal parts rusted steel and body putty.  Keane doesn't look like his description, either, but when I saw him, I smiled.  He looks like a close relation of Joe Hardy after Joe had gotten his late '60s makeover.  Come to think of it, Keane is a relation.  Maybe a first cousin, once removed.  

Owen Keane returns to a book jacket this fall.  It will be wrapped round his first book-length adventure to be published in fourteen years.  I'll have more to say about that adventure, Eastward In Eden (and its cover), in a later post.  For now, thanks again, Dale, for the Memory Lane trip.  And, Frank and Joe, look out behind you!

27 August 2013

The Hardy Boys Mystery

       On a fall night in 1956 The Mickey Mouse Club, which back then ran on ABC every night between 5:00 and 6:00 p.m., premiered a new serial adventure titled The Hardy Boys: The Mystery of the Applegate Treasure. My life-long love of mysteries began that night.

      I was so awed by Disney’s television adaptation of the first Hardy Boys mystery, originally published as The Tower Treasure, that I immediately went out in search of Hardy Boys books that I could devour on my own. Naturally, the first place I tried was the library. But when I summoned up the courage to ask the librarian where I might find the library's collection of Hardy Boy books she looked aghast.  Her eyes widened, she snorted  and then, looking down over the tops of those half spectacles, informed me that the Hardy Boys series was simply not the sort of book that one found in a library.

       This was astonishing to me at seven. Why would the library refuse to stock an entire series of books?  Particularly a popular series written for kids?  But no matter.  I was on a mission. I persevered. 

Stix, Baer and Fuller, Clayton Missouri
circa 1956
"Second floor, Books."
       The neighborhood bookstore also did not carry the Hardy Boys, and I sensed in them, too, a degree of disdain when I asked about the books. But this was the 1950s, a time when department stores were truly stores with departments. So the next time I went shopping with my parents at the neighborhood Stix, Baer and Fuller department store (a St. Louis fixture back then) I headed straight for the book department. And there they were. Row after row of hardcover Hardy Boy mysteries, each for sale for $1.00. I immediately purchased the first three books in the series, exhausting my saved allowance funds, even though my mother warned me that, at age 7, I probably would have an extremely difficult time reading them.

     I didn't. As soon as we got home I wedged myself into the corner of the living room sofa and was lost in the marvelous adventures of Frank and Joe Hardy.  I think that it was those books that really taught me the joy of reading for pleasure.

       For the next several years Hardy Boy mysteries topped every one of my birthday and Christmas wish lists. But as I got deeper into the series things began to bother me. How could Frank and Joe remain, respectively, 16 and 15 years old in each mystery? And who was this “Franklin W. Dixon” who had written the marvelous series, beginning way back in the 1920s? 

       As time passed, like every other fan of the Hardy Boys, I began to grow up. My taste for mysteries had been whetted and more and more my collection of Hardy Boy books sat gathering dust on the bottom shelf of the bookcase as I turned to Arthur Conan Doyle, Ellery Queen and others. But I never forgot about Frank and Joe, and if asked, I would readily volunteer that my thirst for detective fiction, in fact my appetite for reading fiction, began with, and was fueled by, their exploits. 

       If the theme of my last article, on pseudonyms, was John Steinbeck’s admonition that “we can’t start over,” the theme of this one must be Thomas Wolfe’s “you can’t go home again.” Have any of you tried to go back, as adults, and re-read a Hardy Boys book? Or a Nancy Drew mystery? It is only when I attempted this myself that I finally understood the librarian's aghast look as she stared down at me over her half specs when I was seven. No two ways about it, the Hardy Boys are repositories of atrocious writing. 

       Back in 1998 Gene Weingarten, staff writer for The Washington Post (and a very funny man) reached the same conclusion in a wonderful article chronicling his own adult-rediscovery of the works of Franklin W. Dixon: 
Now, through my bifocals, I again confronted The Missing Chums [which is the fourth volume of the series]. Here is how it begins:
 "You certainly ought to have a dandy trip."
"I'll say we will, Frank! We sure wish you could come along!"
Frank Hardy grinned ruefully and shook his head. . . .
 "Just think of it!" said Chet Morton, the other speaker. "A whole week motorboating along the coast. We're the lucky boys, eh Biff?"
"You bet we're lucky!"
"It won't be the same without the Hardy Boys," returned Chet.
Dispiritedly, I leafed through other volumes. They all read the same. The dialogue is as wooden as an Eberhard Faber, the characters as thin as a sneer, the plots as forced as a laugh at the boss's joke, the style as overwrought as this sentence. Adjectives are flogged to within an inch of their lives: "Frank was electrified with astonishment." Drama is milked dry, until the teat is sore and bleeding: "The Hardy boys were tense with a realization of their peril." Seventeen words seldom suffice when 71 will do:
"Mrs. Hardy viewed their passion for detective work with considerable apprehension, preferring that they plan to go to a university and direct their energies toward entering one of the professions; but the success of the lads had been so marked in the cases on which they had been engaged that she had by now almost resigned herself to seeing them destined for careers as private detectives when they should grow older."
Physical descriptions are so perfunctory that the characters practically disappear. In 15 volumes we learn little more than this about 16-year-old Frank: He is dark-haired. And this about 15-year-old Joe: He is blond.
These may be the worst books ever written. 
       Gene Weingarten captures perfectly the surprise and disappointment that a returning reader encounters when cherished childhood memories are found to have been premised not on greatness but on hack mediocrity.  His reaction (and my own) to discovering, as an adult, the shortcomings of the mystery series we loved as children is not uncommon. It is, in fact, almost universal among those who attempt to “go home again” to those Franklin W. Dixon volumes that highlighted our childhood. 

       When Benjamin Hoff, bestselling author of The Tao of Pooh re-read the Hardy Boys as an adult he felt compelled, like Pygmalion, to try to set things right. Mr. Hoff went so far as to re-write the second book in the series, The House on the Cliff and published his re-imagined story, re-titled The House on the Point, complete with two appended essays analyzing the original Franklin W. Dixon work. A noble attempt to re-build that childhood home that he had returned to only to find in shambles.

       But ultimately you can’t do it. Here is what Austin Chronicle reviewer Tim Walker wrote of Hoff’s futile attempt: 
Benjamin Hoff's loving tribute to his boyhood heroes the Hardy Boys recalls The House on the Cliff, the second installment of the original series. As one would hope, Hoff's book is executed with a literary sensibility far superior to the original's. While the narrative seldom attains the gentle flow of Hoff's The Tao of Pooh, its many historical and physical details lend fine verisimilitude, and Hoff has drawn its characters with a real human depth that is absent from the stories that have been selling strongly for 75 years.
[But] any Hardy Boys tribute will run up against the thorny fact of the originals' bad writing. The plots make little sense, the wooden dialogue is in some way an improvement on the cardboard-cutout characters, and the boys themselves take on lethal dangers with barely a second thought in an otherwise sober setting that doesn't make the fantasy element of the book clear. . . . Hoff's book is worth reading, but if it fires you up to re-read the Hardy Boys, understand that you'll be doing it only for nostalgia.
Edward Stratemeyer
       So. Who was this Franklin W. Dixon, and how could he have produced such a popular but, at base, awful series of books? The answer to that question is pretty much common knowledge now.

       In fact, there never was a “Franklin W. Dixon.” The name is a pseudonym utilized by a number of contract writers who produced the Hardy Boys series and the Nancy Drew series ("written" by the equally fictional Carolyn Keene), for the Stratemeyer Syndicate, a self-proclaimed “packager’ of books established in 1905 to provide reading material for young adults (and to make money along the way). The syndicate was the brainchild of Edward Stratemeyer, who wrote the first Bobbsey Twin book before realizing that producing series of childrens’ books under different pseudonyms, ghostwritten by hired writers, would play better in the marketplace. This assumption proved entirely correct. By 1930, the Stratemeyer Syndicate had sold over 5 million copies of its ghosted books and basically controlled the U.S. market for childrens’ books. 

       One of Stratemeyer’s greatest successes was the Hardy Boys. The original series consisted of 58 installments, and was followed by several related series, re-imagining Frank and Joe in more modern times. The latest, The Hardy Boys Adventures, was launched in 2013, and new volumes are currently being published in that series. From the date of the original publication of The Tower Treasure in 1927 there has never been a year when the Hardy Boys series was out of print. 

Leslie McFarlane
     While many authors toiled away producing the hundreds of Hardy Boys installments under the Franklin W. Dixon name, for the first twenty two books in the original series, the scribe who oversaw Frank, Joe, their friends and family, and the city of Bayport was a frustrated author and gentleman named Leslie McFarlane. The entire Hardy Boys series therefore owes a lot to the foundation provided by McFarlane in those first twenty-two installments.  But according to his daughter Norah Perez, McFarlane’s reaction to the series, and to his own efforts in helping to create it,was quite simple: “He hated the Hardy Boys.” 

       McFarlane, like all subsequent Hardy Boys authors, toiled in secrecy in return for a pittance. He was required to sign a confidentiality agreement obligating him never to divulge his authorship of Franklin W. Dixon books. In return he, and the later writers, were paid “princely” sums ranging from $75.00 to $100 per book in the early years to produce new installments in the series, each rigidly premised on outlines supplied by the Stratemeyer Syndicate. The Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew and Tom Swift series were all written under the same arrangements.   Attempts by McFarlane and subsequent authors to vary from the script, or to breathe life into the characters reportedly were dealt with quickly and ruthlessly by the editorial pens of the syndicate.

       Did all of this grate on McFarlane? You bet. Gene Weingarten’s article collects and analyzes entries from the detailed diaries that McFarlane kept over the years. 
“The Hardy Boys" [series] is seldom mentioned by name [in McFarlane’s diaries], as though he cannot bear to speak it aloud. He calls the books "the juveniles." At the time McFarlane was living in northern Ontario with a wife and infant children, attempting to make a living as a freelance fiction writer.
Nov. 12, 1932: "Not a nickel in the world and nothing in sight. Am simply desperate with anxiety. . . . What's to become of us this winter? I don't know. It looks black."
Jan. 23, 1933: "Worked at the juvenile book. The plot is so ridiculous that I am constantly held up trying to work a little logic into it. Even fairy tales should be logical."
Jan. 26, 1933: "Whacked away at the accursed book."
June 9, 1933: "Tried to get at the juvenile again today but the ghastly job appalls me."
Jan. 26, 1934: "Stratemeyer sent along the advance so I was able to pay part of the grocery bill and get a load of dry wood."
Finally: "Stratemeyer wants me to do another book. . . . I always said I would never do another of the cursed things but the offer always comes when we need cash. I said I would do it but asked for more than $85, a disgraceful price for 45,000 words."
He got no raise. 
       McFarlane eventually gritted his teeth and abandoned the series when he realized that the pressures of grinding out new installments had driven him to alcoholism. After shaking that addiction at a treatment center McFarlane never wrote another Hardy Boys book and instead went on to a relatively successful career as a novelist and screenwriter. But the ghosts of Frank and Joe continued to haunt him. Reportedly when McFarlane was near death in 1977 he would awaken from a diabetic coma screaming, having hallucinated that upon his death he would only be remembered for writing the Hardy Boys. 

       So, what's the take away here?  Were we all just wrong as kids?  And what about the fact that after reading the Hardy Boys, or the "sister" Nancy Drew series, most of us went on, and graduated to better books, doing so with an instilled love of reading, and of mysteries?

     A funny thing about trying to re-live parts of one’s childhood. Through an adult’s eyes things just don’t look the same.  Returning to our earliest literary loves can be as unpalatable as returning to Gerber's baby food.  If you try this anyway (the literature, not the baby food), be prepared for some disappointment, or worse. But at the same time remember that what we saw, and did, as children, and what inspired and molded us, made us what we are today. No matter how bad those Hardy Boy books may be when viewed through adult eyes -- our own now, or that aghast librarian’s I encountered in 1956 -- Frank and Joe (and Nancy Drew) for many of us provided that initial flame, the catalyst that ignited a lifelong interest in mystery fiction.

       So, well done, Franklin W. Dixon (and everyone behind his curtain). Poorly written, but still, in the end, well done!