Hardy Boys

From Tic-Tac-Terror (by a Franklin W. Dixon) to Lolita (Nabokov), I’ve collected more books than I have read. But I have read some.

It started off with Hardy Boys; and I remember Fenton Hardy’s case always being connected in some way to the Boys’ case. So, during each book, I used to watch out for clues that would link the boys’ case with anything that their father was doing at that time (mostly in some other part of the country; just to add to the grandeur of the plot). At one point somewhere during 6th or 7th standard, just to ensure that I could prove to a few friends in school what I had read, I started maintaining a list which had the name of the book, plot, and ‘gangleader’ written in neat columnar format. A sample line would be like this:

Spoilers ahead:

Tic-Tac-Terror: Moustached guy, emerald disapperance, defection of Igor the international agent, HAVOC – the terror group, and the secret government agency called Burton O Bradley: Gangleader = George Gamma.

Spoilers end.

After hunting down books in remote libraries near home (Indian Institute of World Culture, Desiree Circulating Library, etc.), I was almost done with the ‘adventure books,’ and was then introduced to the more serious ‘Case Files,’ of which I sampled a few here and there. I even bought two of those. These were more sinister, and had more fantastic plots, and unrealism was taken to new heights. But for some reason, I don’t remember having liked any Hardy Boys book at all. I cannot remember the plotlines of any of their books now; unlike the Three Investigators’ books.

Akka insisted that I move on to the cooler underdogs: The Three Investigators. I remember the plot lines from at least a few of their books, like the Stuttering Parrot, the Talking Skull, etc. I even convinced myself that I was good enough to be Jupiter Jones himself, made a Pete Crenshaw out of Sudarshan, and Gautham had to become Bob Andrews, and we went over to the Gavi Gangadareshwara temple to investigate any mystery that we might encounter. Our motto, of course, was: “We Investigate Anything.” I will spare you the details of the gadgets we had made for ourselves, for self protection, of course.

Nancy Drew came and went unnoticed somewhere in between, and I could never lay my hands on those Nancy Drew Hardy Boys combined books as well.

Recently, I picked up a few Three Investigators and Hardy Boys books to (finally) start my own collection, and went through a few of them. A few things have changed: the awe-factor of seeing Akka finish these books in a couple of hours flat has disappeared now, being replaced with an appreciation of how simple and easy to read these books are. I never forgot the meaning of words like “sleuth,” “cahoots,” and “red herring.” Maybe the sleuths were in cahoots with the gangleader, or was that a red-herring? I wonder…..

These did open the concept of the Novel to me, and it’s a pity (and an irony) that I haven’t read Kadambari yet.

7 thoughts on “Hardy Boys

  1. Thanks for the post. I guess anyone sufficiently inspired by the 3 Is to start a group of his own would naturally become Jupe Jones. Same was the case with me. I must have been the thinnest Jupe Jones ever and you must have fit into his shoes much better 🙂 I did have a perfect Pete though, while my Bob had spectacles, albeit sparingly. We hand-made visiting cards with some variations, and solved exactly one case out of the one that came to us. ’twas the case of the missing school badge. Quite why we didn’t puruse it is lost in the mist of time, but like the 3-Is, we did grow up to.

    Did you ever read the post-16 adventures of the 3-Is which sadly had girls, glitz and cars in it? The Rolls-Royce days were the best.

  2. Kadambari was the favorite novel of my Sanskrit teacher.

    I just remembered one of her amazing classes as I heard of the name “Kadambari”.

    SHe said that you can distinguish between two types of Sanskrit :-

    Here Sanskrit was used to express the Vedas. So no hi-fi linguistic or poetic tricks in this kind of Sanskrit.The vedic/holy/spiritual sanskrit is full of facts and philosophy and knowledge of the Brahma. Remember that the Vedas place a LOT of importance on “Brahma” rather than “Vishnu” or “Shiva”.And the most philosopical part of the Vedas are the Vedantas also called as Upanishads

    Where Sanskrit was treated as a poetic language. And according to my teacher Banabhatta was an absolute genius and a great poet. But he made Kadambari sooooo huge that she said that Bana never completed Kadambari , but his son completed the whole work.

  3. oh kadambari, I had few pages of it,in my graduation, one sentecne runs one page- beautiful , if you understand or some one wellversed , to teach you- or explain- the way you split the sentece the meaning will differ, in same set of words atleast two meanings are hidden- one of the pioneer prose in snaskrit littrature, I wish one day I read it original, eventhough I have read it in Kannada
    I have never read Hardyboys or Nancy Drew – but I heard many sotories from Bhanu, she is a great storyteller- I bet she must have explained it much better than original one- I still remember all her stories about Algeria, even today for me Algeria is all about her fantacy stories –

  4. Restrospectively I find Hardy Boys to be a unique kind of novels (is it still ‘art’?)…I wonder if I knew more about literature then, I would have enjoyed them less or more..will have to pick it up again to find out.

    The “concept of novel” does not really open up as long as you stay within the novels or does it?

  5. Hey..

    This is probably a weird comment to post.. But could you tell me where this “Desiree Circulating Library” is??!

  6. @Anu: It used to be in the basement of the building right next to National College Basavanagudi (that’s the building which had Gurudarshan, etc.). I saw the library, and sadly, the hotel as well, being dismantled a few months ago. No clue where it has moved now.

    There was another library near Vijay Bharadwaj’s house on Surveyor Street, which used to stock up ‘rare’ Hardy Boys books. I forget its name though.


    ps: @P: yes, the concept of the novel would have not opened up had I stuck to novels. Feels good to be able to do both.

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