Hardy Boys, Masters of Mystery


As I labor to clean the Aegean Stables research a sticking point in the current draft of my second novel (hope you like to read about 19thc masquerade balls, because that’s what I’m working on), I’m sharing an earlier post of mine, about those boy super-sleuths, the Hardy Boys.



Welcome to Masters of Mystery, where we feature a fictional detective and examine his or her unique contribution to the mystery genre.  You are invited to challenge yourself with a short detective quiz, and learn the answers to the previous week’s quiz.

Let’s play a little word association to get to our detective today:  peanut butter? jelly. Abbott and? Costello. Nancy Drew?


…The Hardy Boys

After featuring Nancy Drew last week, it seemed only fair to discuss that pair of intrepid brothers.

They look a little older as time goes by…

Some interesting facts about the Hardy Boys series:

1. Like the Nancy Drew series, the Hardy Boys series was created by Edward Stratemeyer, and ghostwritten by a number of different authors under the Franklin W. Dixon nom de plume. The Hardy Boys series began three years before Nancy Drew, in 1927.

2. Leslie McFarlane is considered the best of the ghostwriters of the original series.  He wrote volumes 1-16 and 22-23.

3. Revisions of the series was a massive project: it began in 1959 and lasted 15 years.  The first 38 volumes were revised to eliminate racist stereotypes (parents had been writing letters to Grosset and Dunlap to complain) and simplify some of the prose.  It was thought that this new television-watching child readership would be put off by elaborate prose.  Some critics are dissatisfied with the resulting changes in the boys’ behavior, too.

4. Rare original editions from the 1920s and 30s are being sold for as much as $7000 (yep, three zeroes!).  Dig around your bookshelves and closets!

Why are the Hardy Boys so appealing?

1. Brother power:

  • Two boys/two personality types/ two protagonists for readers to identify with.
  • “Brotherly love” exchanges.  Here’s a sample, via http://hardyquotes.webs.com:

“You sure you’re okay, Joe?” Frank asked as he reached out to steady his brother.
“Little wobbly, that’s all,” Joe replied.
“We’ll order up a skull X ray, just to be safe,” Mr. Hardy said, concerned.
“Well, we know that’ll turn up empty.”  Frank laughed.  He used his uninjured arm to help his brother into the back of the van.
“Ha, ha. Very funny,” Joe mocked.
Frank climbed into the van and sat down next to his brother.  “Now we’ll have proof that I got all the brains in the family.”

2. Their friend, Chet Morton, sure knows how to eat.

3. The boys are daring and athletic: jumping down elevator shafts, climbing up rocky cliffs, eluding gunshots.

4. Smart and observant.

5. Tough: although Frank and Joe have more bumps, bruises, and broken bones between them than a 49ers’ offensive line, they still wisecrack and solve the case, every time.

Beyond the books:  television (two series), games and toys

Two of the most successful tv series (there were several):

Games, action figures, promotional products:


Great sites for more info, courtesy of http://www.hardyboyscasefiles.com (text comments on the links are from the site):

Hardy Detective Agency — A site dedicated to that fantastic teen detective duo, Frank and Joe Hardy. If you are looking for Fan Fiction this is one of the sites you MUST check out!

The Hardy Boys Online — An unofficial online resource for fans of the Hardy Boys books.

The Unofficial Hardy Boys Home Page — Meet Frank & Joe Hardy, Franklin W. Dixon’s famous teen detectives. The most complete and detailed Hardy Boys site on the Internet. The books, TV shows, collectibles & memorabilia, plays, FAQ & much more.

The Hardy Boys .co .uk — An unofficial guide to the British and Commonwealth series for enthusiasts and collectors.

Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Archive — This website contains a bibliography of the multiple incarnations of Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries, from the earliest Hardy Boys Mystery Stories of 1927 to the recent series Nancy Drew: Girl Detective and The Hardy Boys: Undercover Brothers.

Want the answers to last week’s quiz?

1. Where did Sherlock Holmes keep his pipe tobacco?

  • in an urn on the mantel
  • in his violin case
  • in the toe of a Persian slipper
  • he didn’t smoke, you moron

2. Conan Doyle couldn’t decide if Watson was shot in the arm or the leg while serving as a doctor in the war (each limb is mentioned in the stories).  In what war was Watson wounded?

  • Crimean War
  • Boer War
  • Desert Storm
  • Second Anglo-Afghan War:  Watson gives us the background of his military campaign, wounding at the Battle of Maiwand (in the shoulder), and physical recovery, prior to meeting Holmes.  In later stories, the bullet mysteriously migrates to his leg.  Doyle needed a better editor, although the discrepancy keeps the Sherlock Holmes fan clubs occupied.

3.  Author Earl Derr Biggers created which fictional detective?

  • Charlie Chan
  • Judge Dee
  • Nero Wolfe
  • Hercule Poirot

4. True or False:  Miss Marple debuted in Christie’s The Mysterious Affair at Styles. It was Hercule Poirot who made his first appearance in that novel.  Miss Marple first appeared in the 1930 novel The Murder at the Vicarage (and small, sleepy villages have never been the same since).

Be your own “Master of Mystery: take this week’s quiz!

1. What character made his first appearance in a 1939 issue of Detective Comics?

  • Spiderman
  • the Green Hornet
  • Batman
  • Scooby-Doo

2. True or False:  Raymond Chandler was a Pinkerton.

3. One of the following is NOT a rule of Golden Age detective fiction, as famously listed by literary critic Ronald Knox (in a preface to a 1929 collection of detective stories).  Which is it?

  • No more than one secret room or passage is allowable
  • No Chinaman must figure in the story
  • Twin brothers, and doubles generally, must not appear unless we are duly prepared for them
  • The butler should not be the culprit

4.  How many steps lead up to the quarters of 221B Baker Street?

  • 17
  • 39
  • 7
  • 10

Hope you’re enjoying the quizzes.  What was your favorite mystery series as a young reader, or did you discover your love of mysteries later on?  I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for joining me today.  See you soon!


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25 thoughts on “Hardy Boys, Masters of Mystery”

  1. Margot KinbergMargot Kinberg

    Oh, those ‘photos of the TV Hardy Boys take me back! Thanks for this really interesting retrospective on them. I admit I was more of a Nancy Drew person, but yeah, the Hardy Boys are cultural icons.

  2. Tiffany WhiteTiffany White

    Oh, Kathy – I love Mystery Monday! If my reading list wasn’t already tipping over, I’d re-read all of the Nancy Drews & Hardy Boys. Are you going to do the Bobsey Twins? 🙂

  3. Loree HuebnerLoree Huebner

    1 Going with Batman
    2 False
    3 Um…going with the Butler answer
    4 17 …asked my son for this one.

    Fun quiz. Loved the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew in my youth…

    No Hummers yet…will keep you posted.

  4. Laura DroegeLaura Droege

    Fascinating Hardy Boys info. I know a little girl who loves Frank and Joe! I have a fondness for Chet, personally.

    As a girl, I read Nancy Drew. Then later on, I read all of Agatha Christie’s novels (not a series, I know) and Ellis Peter’s Brother Cadfael mysteries. Fun memories.

  5. Andrew MoceteAndrew Mocete

    So glad I found this series!

    The Hardy Boys. That takes me back. Them and The Three Investigators were fave reads as a kid. (Will they be getting a spot in Masters of Mystery?) You hit the nail on the head about the brotherly connection. I loved that aspect. Family bond stuff always gets me.

  6. PatriciaPatricia

    Shaun Cassidy and Parker Stevenson – say no more! I still swoon. I was in LOVE with the Hardy Boys. Of course those 2 hit the screen when I was an impressionable teen-age girl so it didn’t matter what the show was about. I tuned in for the boys.

    Thanks for the walk down memory lane. I wish I still had my Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  7. shannon espositoshannon esposito

    Wow, this takes me back! I must have been around 8-9 when I got obsesses with this show and I was team Shaun Cassidy. 🙂

  8. Renee Schuls-JacobsonRenee Schuls-Jacobson

    Did I know you last May? It seems like I’ve known your name forever. Maybe I was flowing your Watercooler Wednesdays at this point, and hadn’t yet gotten hooked on you.

    All I can say is you live to research!



    Loved reading about the boys and then seeing them on their show. 😉

  9. Debra EveDebra Eve

    What a fun trip down memory lane, Kathy! I think my Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys addiction as a kid has fueled my reading preferences since.

  10. Yves FeyYves Fey

    So…is Supernatural the modern day update of the Hardy Boys?

  11. Julie GloverJulie Glover

    I love the Hardy Boys. I remember reading the books and watching that 70s show version. Of course, I like Nancy Drew better, but the brothers’ detection was intriguing and fun too.

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