Spies and a Quick Trip to South America
Even as a kid, I had to admit that the Hardy Boys books weren’t exactly realistic. And, as much as I loved Footprints Under the Window, the twelfth in the series, even as a kid I knew it is a perfect example of what I’m talking about.
When Frank and Joe Hardy go to meet their Aunt Gertrude on her return from a trip to South America, they arrive a little early, so they decide to head out in their motor boat. That’s when they see a man jump over the side of a ship. They pick him up, but all they get out of him is a strange warning about footprints before he runs off again.
With their dad out of town on a case, they are left to try to figure out what is going on by themselves. Might it have to do with the robbery they foiled at a nearby photographic plant? And who left the footprints outside the Hardy’s house?
So where does the unrealistic part come into play? The trail of this mystery seems to lead to South America, so the Hardys and their friend Chet take off for a few days. What eighteen and seventeen year old would receive permission to do that? Much less have the ability? Of course, considering they get involved in and solve all these puzzling mysteries is really even more unbelievable than their trip south of the border, so I’ll leave it alone. You’ve got to be willing to go with the flow a bit to enjoy these books.
We are presented with another puzzling, compelling case here. I know I read this as a child since I could tell you what the climax was before I picked it up, but I didn’t remember many of the details. The case makes sense in the end, but I think they tried to cram a bit too much into it. I was struggling to keep up at the end of the book. One less plot thread would have made it easier to follow everything and given them a bit more time to explain things.
On the other hand, there is plenty of action and suspense, and I found myself turning pages quickly several times to get the Hardys out of danger.
As always, the characters are cardboard thin. Plot is king in these books. But as a kid, I didn’t mind, and even now I got caught up in the action.
The plot of this book, what the Hardys wind up trying to protect, definitely seems dated today. It’s a product of being written in the 1960’s. I didn’t really notice when I read it originally in the 1980’s, but I’m sure today’s kids will notice. But as long as they realize when this particular edition was written, they’ll be okay.
All told, this book is probably closer to a three than the four I am giving it. Yes, nostalgia comes into play here since I loved this book as a kid. But that’s often the case when I’m looking at books in this series.
If today’s kids are willing to overlook the dated storyline, they’ll definitely get caught up in the action of Footprints Under the Window. Even as an adult, I know I did.