Hunting for Hidden Gold

Hunting for Hidden Gold by Franklin W. Dixon (1928) My least favorite Hardy Boy books were the ones where they went far from their home of Bayport—that's just my preference—and this one is mostly in Montana—but also, my favorites are the ones that take place in winter, as does this book, the 5th of the series. It starts out when a simple ice skating outing on a frozen pond nearly turns deadly, due to a ridiculous storm, which the Hardys and their chums barely survive by taking refuge in a cottage that has been blown off a cliff and landed intact, complete with an old codger, a miner from Montana who ends up being central to the mystery at hand. When the the Hardys get summoned to join their detective dad, Fenton, out west, the old guy warns them, “It ain't all beer and skittles.” Fenton's laid up with an injury, so he has the boys working on the case, and the first day out they're nearly killed in a mine cave-in and captured by the criminal gang. Fenton decides to let them go on with the investigation, though, if they're more careful, which they're not, and they are almost killed again, this time in a blizzard, which they survive only to be attacked by wolves in a mine, escaping only because they have a pistol they took from one of the gang. I didn't like them shooting the wolves, who are after all just hungry dogs, but they do, of course, eventually find the hidden gold and capture the gang. The best part of the book, though, is when they take the train out west to meet their dad. It's their first train trip and the descriptions of train travel, and their observations of Chicago are really excellent. They're also involved in some Hitchcock level intrigue in which some improbably clever, far-reaching members of the criminal gang try to fool them, put them on the wrong train, back in the the wrong direction, to a backwoods nightmarish kidnapping scheme where they are finally saved by good-hearted black guys—chicken farmers. Then back to another layover in Chicago, and this time they don disguises and barely make it out of town once again. This is the kind of crazy stuff that makes the old, original text versions of the Hardy Boys worth re-reading.