Book name: What Happened at Midnight
Author: Franklin W Dixon
Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap
Format: ebook, print
Genre: Hardy Boys mystery, vintage children’s fiction
Publication Date: 1931
Star Rating: 5/5
The 'Hardy Boys Mystery Stories' series features brothers Frank and Joe, budding detectives who are well on the way to emulating their father Fenton with a career in tracking down criminals.
Frank is eighteen and Joe is a year younger.
When What Happened at Midnight opens, Fenton asks the boys to retrieve a valuable item from the home of Malcolm Wright, an inventor.
Frank and Joe go to Mr Wright’s house one night dressed as burglars, only to get into a fight with real burglars also intending to snatch the radio at the stroke of midnight.
Mr Wright has been threatened by a gang, but is keen to have the invention somewhere safe because it is very valuable.
Fenton is very coy about just what the radio is capable of, but Frank and Joe soon discover that the radio is sophisticated enough to pick up a European radio signal without any interference.
The boys are also warned by a radio ham who has been contacted by Fenton that they are in great danger and that the gang trying to steal the invention will stop at nothing to get hold of it.
Impressed by Mr Wright’s invention, Frank and Joe hide the radio under the spare wheel in Frank’s car.
They are followed to a party at their friend Chet’s house. While they are partying, some gang members try to search Frank’s car. The gang is thwarted but Joe is kidnapped.
Frank and Chet chase down the gang, but the gang’s car crashes. Joe is nowhere to be seen, but both of them worry that he has been injured in the car crash.
Meanwhile, Aunt Gertrude unknowingly has a brush with the gang at the airport while returning from a stay with other relatives.
She overhears a reference to some caves, which gives Frank a clue in finding Joe.
Frank and Chet take Frank’s boat, the ‘Sleuth’, to investigate the caves.
Although Frank eventually locates Joe in the caves and manages to rescue him, Joe is injured and the violence of the gang is no longer in dispute.
Joe’s captivity enables him to overhear several of the gang’s names and also to work out that they are diamond smugglers. The radio invention would help them to detect police and others around when they are transporting their goods.
What Happened at Midnight features a great deal of travel. From the aeroplane used to give Chet a lift home to the role of boats in rescuing Joe and cars in his abduction, the boys are always on the move.
The Hardy Boys then travel by train to New York city to pursue one of the gang. Finally, they both have to bail out of a plane in some fog before it crash lands.
The pursuit of the gang intensifies, and the excitement of seeing the boys chasing them by sea and air was fabulous.
Frank and Joe are always positive and resourceful. They have prowess with cars and boats, and they are confident enough to spontaneously dash onto a train and follow a suspect all the way to New York city.
The Hardy Boys work alongside the police and, occasionally, their father. But they are the driving force behind solving their own cases. I rather liked their concealment of their identity as burglars, even though they do inform the police later.
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