Title: The Sign of the Crooked ArrowThe-Sign-of-the-Crooked-Arrow
Author: Franklin W. Dixon
Pages: 214
Recommended Ages: 8-12
Star Rating: ★★★

I purchased The Sign of the Crooked Arrow without realizing that it was a part of the Hardy Boys series. (No, guys, it did not say ‘THE HARDY BOYS’ on the front cover – my copy has a different cover. [:) I was a little disappointed when I discovered the fact, but decided that I would buckle down and read it instead. I was surprised by how pleasant it actually was.

The Story.

A car has been left at Slo Mo’s garage for two months. No one has called to claim it. But someone has tried to steal it. A tie clasp has been found in the car – molded in the shape of a crooked arrow. But what does it all mean? It means a new case for the Hardy boys!

As Frank and Joe dive into the case, they draw connections between the recent rise in crime in Bayport and this crooked arrow, which they are determined is the sign of a gang. When their father further investigates their findings, he is shot and wounded. Shot by an arrow.

Also, their Cousin Ruth’s ranch has been facing hardships and many of her ranch hands are vanishing without a trace. Is there some sort of connection between the two cases?

This is no small plot the Hardys are up against. Will they be able to capture the criminals, or will the gang of the Crooked Arrow triumph in their nefarious designs?

Discussion.

I was actually impressed with the conduct of the Hardy boys. They are upright, hard-working, fearless young men. They take on any problem by its horns and fight for justice. However, because of their very impetuosity, I felt that they sometimes overstepped their bounds and treated adults too familiarly. (teasing them, etc.) Also, although I appreciated the fact that they were being sent out on missions by their father (who is a detective himself), once out of his presence they act as free agents, often giving directions to older men, and providing all of the intelligence that is needed.

This lends itself to the other criticism that I have which is the stereotypical exaggeration of the Hardy boys’ talents. Both boys are expert riders. Frank is an expert mechanic “as a result of having taken so many jalopies apart and put them back together.” (?!?) They both pick up judo like that *snaps fingers* and later take out three hardened cowboys with ease. [:O]

Three more unbelievables:

1)      The Indians in the story speak horribly chopped English.

2)      Joe and Frank assume that it was an Indian who tried to kill their father because he used a bow and arrow. [!!!!!!!]  *horror*

3)      The Hardys genuinely believe that their arrow shooter will be lured into revealing his identity by entering an archery contest for the sake of its fifty dollar prize. (Say Robin Hood, anyone?)

F. Dixon states that Joe was “rather fond of Iola”. He says that as far as Frank was concerned, Callie Shaw was “as nice a girl as any fellow would like to know.” They joke and laugh together, but nothing truly romantic ever happens.

On one page, a chemist comments that “Every race has its own peculiar scent.” [pg. 22] I do not know how true this statement is, nor what its racial / socio-ethical implications are.

On one occasion, not wishing to worry their aunt, the Hardys tell a half-truth. It is not an actual lie, but it is still practicing deception on an authority. Not horrible.

‘Gosh’ is used twelve times, ‘golly’ three, ‘gee’ twice and both ‘Gol hang it’, and ‘dickens’ are used once.

Conclusion. I would assign The Sign of the Crooked Arrow to the realm of filler fiction – not horrible, not wonderful. It has fewer harmful elements than many books out there, but it was also unrealistic. All in all, it will be up to you, the parent to decide how concentrated you want your child’s reading to be.

Note: This is a review of The Sign of the Crooked Arrow, not the entire Hardy Boys Series.

Review © 2013 Laura Verret

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