This may be more of a personal forgotten book, the Hardy Boys are as popular as ever, but it's been 28 years since I've read a 'Hardy' story. Normally I’m not one to go back to a book I've already read, but a wave of nostalgia must have overcome me when I found a 1932 edition of While the Clock Ticked......
On the morning of my tenth Christmas, I awoke to a large white cloth ‘wrapping’ the bookshelf in the living room. When I finally got the okay from my parents to ‘open’ my gift, I pulled back the cloth and was ecstatic to find the entire set of the Hardy Boys books. I was dumbfounded at the sheer number of them and I remember childishly thinking that this must have cost my parents thousands of dollars. That collection, which I still have, was the first to spur my first interest in detective novels (this cover creeped me out when I originally read the story).
While The Clock Ticked is 11th in the series. Raymond Dalrymple, the town banker, calls to enlist the services of the boys' detective father, Fenton Hardy. With Mr. Hardy and his wife away on vacation, Dalrymple reluctantly agrees to allow the teenage sleuths to investigate after much insistence from Frank and Joe.
Dalrymple has purchased the old Purdy house on the shore road. Jason Purdy was an eccentric and he had built a secret vault with a time lock mechanism to have a safe place to count his gold. Dalrymple discovers the room along with threatening messages warning him to stay away: “Death while the clock ticks”. How the messages get into the room is quite ingenious and entertainingly demonstrated by Frank.
Revisiting the characters was like catching up with old friends. From Chief Collig and Detective Smuff to the girlfriends, Iola Morton and Callie Shaw, and the chums Tony Prito, Phil Cohen, Biff Hooper and Jerry Gilroy. And, of course, I can't forget roly-poly Chet Morton (Iola’s brother) who owns an old yellow jalopy he lovingly called Queen, and, when he’s not busy eating, he always seems to have a hobby that aids in the brothers' investigation. Also, there is everybody’s favorite Aunt Gertrude, who seems hard on the sleuths but deep down is very proud of her nephews. In this original version, Aunt Gertrude seems to play a bigger and harsher role than I remember in the revamped editions I read as a kid.
I discovered the entire series overhauled in the 1950s due to outdated phrases, like roadsters, and unflattering stereotypes, e.g., in While The Clock Ticked, reference is made to how well Indians can give a rebel yell. Check out some websites with great information on the series here and here.
I enjoyed returning to Frank and Joe after all these years. There’s plenty of action in this book for any ten-year-old to enjoy, and apparently for a grown man as well. I finished the book in nearly one sitting.
This secondhand book has a lot of character with stained pages every couple of chapters. Using my detective skills, I reasoned it must have belonged to a young kid who sat alone in the corner of the school lunchroom everyday, ravenously eating up each page along with a peanut butter sandwich while the clock ticked the minutes away.
Click here for more Friday's Forgotten Books on Patti Abbott's site...