The Missing Chums by Franklin W. Dixon (1928) This is the 4th volume of The Hardy Boy Mystery Stories and starts with Chet and Biff going on an outing in Biff's new boat. The Hardys and Tony, in their boats, see them off across the bay until a huge storm arrives out of nowhere and the Hardys and Tony barely make it back. It's one of the best descriptions of a boat caught in a storm I've read (and it happens a lot in these books)! Chet and Biff are lost at sea. It's pretty harrowing. This is also the volume that introduces Aunt Gertrude, who comes to visit—accompanied by a cat!—“a lazy yellow cat by the name of Lavinia”—which is the only time I remember the mention of her cat. A letter comes from some criminals addressed to Fenton Hardy (who is out of town, as he often is) and Aunt Gertrude has a premonition that it's something sinister because, she says: “I dreamed about haystacks last night. Haystacks! Whenever I dream about haystacks it means band news.” This book probably has the best Aunt Gertrude parts of any Hardy Boys book. It's also one of my favorite premises: some criminals, out to get Fenton Hardy, have a plan to kidnap Frank and Joe, but they kidnap Chet and Biff mistakenly. It's almost comic. I pretty much stole that whole plot for a part of my forthcoming novel, The Doughnuts.
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