Book name: The Flickering Torch Mystery
Author: Franklin W Dixon
Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap
Format: Print, ebook
Genre: Detective fiction, Vintage Children’s Books
Publication Date: 1943/1971
Star Rating: 5/5
This is a slightly unusual book in Hardy Boys series in that it has been rewritten, giving two stories in the same name.
Some of the original Hardy Boys mystery stories were rewritten in this way between 1959 and 1973.
I’m reviewing the original version.
Frank and Joe Hardy’s father Fenton is investigating a big case involving theft of material from state projects such as road building.
He leaves the boys to investigate their own mystery when an absentminded scientist, Asa Grable, comes to visit the Hardys and ask for their help just as he is heading off.
Asa Grable owns a silkworm farm, but somehow his worms keep disappearing. He asks Frank and Joe for help.
However, he is conflicted about definitely having their assistance.
Asa asks the boys to adopt a disguise so as not to make any of his employees suspicious. Next to Asa’s farm is a State Experimental Farm. The boys get work there as a cover for their investigations.
Frank and Joe are impressed to discover that the farm is experimenting with growing plants for food without soil. There’s no mention of hydroponics as such, but this what the Hardy boys encounter.
They are joined by their redoubtable Aunt Gertrude, their maiden aunt who comes with them to stay with Mrs Trumper nearby.
Mrs Trumper is a widow, lacking in confidence. She has sold some land and not received the interest payments under the contract for sale.
She asserts herself with Aunt Gertrude’s encouragement and insists that the man who bought the land from her starts to make the payments due.
Frank and Joe are very suspicious of a member of staff at the farm. Boots is hostile to them and unhelpful. They also have their concerns about one of Asa Grable’s men at the silkworm farm next door.
I liked the rural feel of The Flickering Torch mystery. Frank and Joe are quite often in urban areas with powerful transports such as boats and planes.
In this book, however, we see them riding and driving a cart. They also have to do some weeding!
There was plenty of action and danger, as befits any Hardy Boys mystery story. The boys get kidnapped by the gang stealing material from the government projects.
Frank also has his car driven off the road, and it is then stolen by one of the gang members in disguise.
The boys also innocently risk their lives swimming in a flooded mine they mistake for a lake.
The mine, however, eventually provides the clue to the mystery and helps Mrs Trumper improve her finances.
We also see the boys’ old friend Dick Ames, who is now in college but is working on the road project as part of his summer holiday. And, of course, their buddy Chet Morton is never far away when food is being grown!
The Flickering Torch Mystery was a great Hardy Boys mystery story, albeit slightly less dangerous than some of the books in the series.
I loved the farming location and seeing the boys try their hand at something different for a change.
Thank you for reading my review.
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If you’ve enjoyed this review, you might be interested in reading my review of Countdown to Terror by Franklin W Dixon here.
Or you might like to take a look at my review of The Nancy Drew Mysteries by Carolyn Keene.
If you fancy something different, you might like to take a chance on my review of Timeless Simplicity by John Lane.