The House on the Cliff by Franklin W. Dixon (1927) This was the second volume of the Hardy Boys series, and the story some consider to be the best—and it is a pretty good one, about “dope smugglers” (opium, from the Orient) led by the vicious and goofily named Snackley—who murdered old Felix Polucca in order to use his house—which sits atop a cliff on Barmet Bay, with a secret passage down to a hidden cove below—as the HQ for smuggling operations. At one point the Hardys and their dad, Fenton, are captured and things look grim; the criminals are planning on handing them over to cohort and Chinese smuggler Li Chang to take them on his ship back to China. “But we don't want to go to China!” Joe laments, to which Frank reminds him that most likely Li Chang will just toss them overboard once they're on the high seas. It's actually quite chilling, even knowing there are still hundreds of volumes to follow this one. The ending of this book is full of action, but for me, kind of boring. My favorite parts of Hardy Boys books are the odd adventures and weird, sometimes digressive sub-plots and details, which are more frequent in somewhat later volumes.
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