At last! I've been collecting the vintage, unrevised Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew novels and after a few bites decided to wait and read them in order, but it took me forever to find the second book for either series. After a lucky visit to Providence R.I.'s Cellar Stories bookstore I found 'The House on the Cliff' and I'm back in business.
I read the later, revised edition years and years ago, but didn't feel a need to read it again. Reading the original brought back to me enough of the more ridiculous elements that were added to soften the objectionable edges of the original.
In this story, the brothers and a few of their best chums are out for an extended ride on their motorcycles. For a lark they decide to check out the gloomy, abandoned house on the cliff and see if the rumors of hauntings are true. There's a bit of a frightful episode and the boys flee the house. Later, the boys witness two speeding motor boats, one is blown up and a man left for dead. The boys make a daring rescue.
This triggers an interesting investigation into jewel smuggling (drugs in the later book), disappearing fathers, and lots and lots of bullets. Problematic elements included those bullets and the boys cheerfully loading their firearms, unrepentant thugs, and bumbling and lazy policemen. Actual horribleness is Frank using a colloquial racist expression (top of page 77 if you're curious) and, of course, a sinister Chinese man named Li Chang who sure would like 3 white men in his power. Joe's response is merely that he "doesn't want to go to China." Haha.
The racist elements needed to go, but the revised edition takes away over 20 pages. Descriptions are changed, authority figures become above reproach, and the Hardy Boys have a minimum involvement with undesirables. The main villain, a hardened, if naive, criminal whose only fault was lusting after Fenton Hardy's pledge to leave him alone is revised into a sad sack who is just misunderstood and wants to reform himself and turn the House on the Cliff into a home for kids who ain't learned so good.
The mystery itself wasn't as solid as 'The Tower Treasure', that and the old timey racism knocks the stars down to three and a half.
The Hardy Boys
Next: 'The Secret of the Old Mill'
Previous: 'The Tower Treasure'