Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Fun, decent mystery
Cons: Dated elements, weak characters
The Bottom Line:
Caves filled with danger
Hardys tackle mysteries
Dated but still fun
Who and What are Hiding in the Caves?
In third grade, I picked up my first Hardy Boys book, The Secret of the Caves. But I didn’t finish it because I got distracted by The Chronicles of Narnia. Kind of ironic since I am now such a mystery addict, right? I tried the Hardys again in fifth grade, and I was hooked, even going back and finishing this book. I’ve just reread it again, and it continues to be a fun mystery.
Frank and Joe’s friend Chet is super excited about his new metal detector and wants to go camping on the beaches near some caves south of Bayport to test it out. Their friend Biff is ready to join them when Mr. Hardy gets not one but two cases that he needs his son’s help with. First, someone is sabotaging the new security center just outside of town. And secondly, a young woman shows up asking for help in locating her brother, a college professor who has vanished.
Frank and Joe take on the missing professor, but when they arrive at the college, they are meant with danger. They do find one clue that actually sends them to the area where Chet wants to camp. Meanwhile, things are heating up at the base. Are the two cases connected?
It was actually very interesting reading this book as an adult. In an attempt to not date the book, this professor had been in a European country that is not friendly with America. No, that isn’t awkward at all (he noted sarcastically). On the other hand, the boys use some slang that is definitely dated, especially Joe. What’s really funny is that I didn’t notice this as a kid reading the book in the 80’s. I just knew the mystery was good.
And that part holds up well today. I didn’t remember much of the plot, so I was kept guessing exactly where things were going until the end. The ending was definitely rushed and a bit of a data dump, but it did wrap everything up. Along the way, we get plenty of action and danger.
I did find the characters rather flat. They are there to move the plot forward and be moved around by the plot. Of course, as a kid, I didn’t mind that at all. I was reading it for the story. It was nice to see Biff be included since the core characters really are Frank, Joe, and Chet and the Hardy family.