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Book Reviews

Milt Gross Book Review: "The Mystery of Cabin Island" by Franklin W. Dixon
By Milton M Gross
Jul 15, 2012 - 1:05:22 AM

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The Mystery of Cabin Island is a "golden oldie" of the Franklin W. Dixon Hardy Boys mysteries, which I'm sure has been republished numerous times. The copy, which I acquired at our town's recycling center is a 1966 version, published by Grosset & Dunlap, Inc., and which shares with us the brothers as they were in that ancient time of half a century ago.

In this mystery, the two brothers whose father, if you recall is a private detective, are drawn into their own mystery on an island when wealthy Elroy Jefferson invites them to spend their Christmas vacation at his cabin on Cabin Island.

Of course, the "vacation" becomes a mystery, Jefferson's grandson disappearing and the two-year-ago theft of a collection of antique metals.

The island is snowbound, and Frank and Joe travel there by ice boat, the Sea Gull, to find a stranger who orders them off the island.

"He was a surly-(do kids today know what that word means?)looking man in his early thirties, who walked with his neck thrust forward. His off-balance, lumbering gait amused Joe, but the man's words were not funny.

"Get off this island!" he shouted. The Hardys were taken by surprise, but only for seconds.

"Who says?" Joe retorted (another one of those possible mystery words to today's kids).

"I say so, and I'll show you!" came the reply as the man thrust his right hand into the Mackinaw's deep pocket. He strode closer, glaring at the foursome.

"Don't threaten us!" Biff (a friend of the boys) said angrily, cocking his right fist.

"If it's a fight you want," Frank said cooly, "the odds are one to four. So don't be foolish. Besides we have permission to be on this island."

This paragraph typifies the half-century old style of writing with its bluff and bluster such as Biff's "cocking his right fist." Notice how clumsy, blustery, and kind of not-too-bright the bad guy appears.

The boys go on and investigate inside the cabin and around the snow-covered island, eventually solving both mysteries. Jefferson and the boys' father praise them for yet another mystery solved.

Ah, such heroes of long ago.

The painting on the book cover shows the "antiquity" of this 1966 publication with the boys wearing wool shirts and pants as well as bill caps with earmuffs. Photo by Milt Gross.

If you would have liked to read more of this series, and you were living and reading a half-century ago, a list of 58 other Hardy Boys titles is listed at the back of the book. You could order them by mail -- definitely not online a half-century ago -- at $3.95 each. For the fairer sex, the kind of looked -down-at view males held of females a half-century ago (not me, of course, I definitely appreciate females, which itself may be a look-down-on sexist comment -- geez, I hope not), the opposite page in the back of the book lists 49 titles of the Bobbsey Twins adventure books, these priced at $2.95 each, the lower price being evidence of how the male-dominated American world of those long ago times placed the male higher than the female on the importance scale.

As for me, while I'm not still a boy of a half-century ago, I find these old Franklin W. Dixon tales still fun to read and also as an emotional way to reminisce those boyhood times. Women, who are not still girls of a half-century ago, can find these and the Bobbsey Twins series still fun to read and also an emotional way to reminisce those girlhood times.

May boyhood and girlhood always be with us -- as well as books such as The Mystery of Cabin Island.

You can find the updated versions in which roadsters became cars and other changes occurred over the publishing years at bookstores -- and online these days.

I'll check the recycling center for my next Hardy Boys mystery book.

Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at

Milton M. Gross Copyright 2012

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