When reading interviews with a crime fiction writers and the questions lead to childhood influences, we inevitably hear about the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew. So I got this idea to begin reading the Hardy Boys series from book one, The Tower Treasure, to fifty-eighth entry, The Sting of the Scorpion, and review one per week over a year. I'd call it, "Fridays With the Hardy Boys" or something equally as trite.
But then I read The Tower Treasure and oh my god was it horrible.
For instance this:
By the time the Hardy boys and Chet had raced from the Mortons’ kitchen, the prowler was not in sight. Thinking he had run across one of the fields, the three pursuers scattered in various directions to search. Joe struck out straight ahead and pressed his ear to the ground to listen for receding footsteps. He could hear none. Presently the three boys met once more to discuss their failure to catch up to the man, and to question why he had been there.Seriously? Pressed his ear to the ground to listen for receding footsteps? I can't believe this used to be a thing.
There is so much bad storytelling in this book, from Joe toppling over a railing and grabbing two spindles one-floor below to the boys tricking their father's competition into putting out a fire in a trash bin and missing his plane, I found myself groaning as I read. Trust me on this, the Hardy Boys are bad, really bad. If you don't believe me, then how about my sister?
If I hadn't re-read The Tower Treasure I would have been surprised, but I had and I understood.
After thinking for a few hours, I recommended Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express because I figured they could see the movie afterward. A few days later my sister texted me, "Great idea. Brady is loving it!". I am pleased to say mom and son are now on their second Christie book, this time And Then There Were None.
Hopefully, the next generation of crime writers will not be influenced by the Hardy Boys, instead, they'll have the accomplished hands of J.K. Rowling world guiding them. And we will all be better off for it.