Thursday, October 9, 2008

Typhoon Island (#180)

Typhoon Island coverPlot: Frank, Joe, Callie, and Iola go on vacation to San Esteban, which is facing rampant crime and a hurricane.

“Borrowing” from the past: There’s not much here to tie in with older stories. Frank and Joe are menaced by a bull, as they were in Sign of the Crooked Arrow (#28), The Mystery of the Aztec Warrior (#43), and The Pentagon Spy (#61). They also have a tarantula planted in their bed; they were confronted with a spider in The Revenge of the Desert Phantom (#84) as well.

Frank and Joe fly a plane from the Florida Keys to San Esteban. I've detailed their flying experience in In Plane Sight (#176). In Typhoon, Frank and Joe fly a pontoon plane, just as they did in The Viking Symbol Mystery (#42).

Hit ‘em right in the euphemism: Frank knees a boat thief in the “thigh”; the man gasps and drops to the deck. It can be painful to be hit in the thigh — the real thigh — but I think we now know the answer of whether Frank or Joe would be pragmatic enough to go for the family jewels in a fight.

Those are some trusting parents: Callie’s and Iola’s parents let their daughters go on an unchaperoned Caribbean vacation with Frank and Joe. We know their virtue is safe, because the Hardy boys haven’t gotten used to being kissed on the lips, and the most compromising position anyone gets into is when Frank and Joe respond to screams of terror from the girls’ bungalow and finds Callie in a nightgown and Iola clad only in a towel.

Still, the Mortons and Shaws are awful trusting. Iola and Joe comment that after Chet, the Mortons don’t worry so much about Iola — but since Chet gets in all his trouble with the Hardys, shouldn’t they be more worried about the trouble Joe can get their daughter in? And why would the Hardys, Mortons, or Shaws let teenagers go to an island about to be smacked by a hurricane?

Turn up your nose, will you?: Joe is leery of the weathered building and faded sign that announces the business they rent their plane from. Frank says, “This isn’t Bayport, Joe.” Which is good, really; Bayport may be higher rent, but it is one of the most crime-ridden burghs on the Atlantic coast.

Welcome to Non-Sequitur Theater, where we like pizza: Noting that their bungalows are on a cliff, Iola says the only way to the beach is by cliff diving. “It worked for Elvis Presley,” Frank said. Yes, Elvis did a little cliff diving in his 1963 film, Fun in Acapulco, but why would Frank know that? Why?

The girls do have limits: You get the feeling Iola and Callie have had about enough of the boys’ heroism. At one point, Iola calls the brothers “heroic, but foolish”; I can’t think of a better three words to describe Frank and Joe. Joe suggests a man he and Frank chased through rain-drenched streets isn’t a gangster, saying, “Even gangsters are smart enough to get out of the rain.” Iola responds, “But not my boyfriend, apparently.”

Callie begs Frank and Joe not to turn their vacation into a detective case. Silly girl. You must not know them very well if you think there’s even a remote possibility of that happening.

“Playful” has many meanings: While the four teens are wandering through caves, utterly lost, Frank tries to kill all their hope by suggesting fresh water on the walls of the cave could be filtering through the rock rather than leaking from an immediate surface source. Callie gives him a “playful” punch in the shoulder, despite being “clearly frustrated.” I’m sure the narrator left out Frank’s shout of pain.

That word, I do not think it means what you think it means: The title of the book is Typhoon Island, despite tropical cyclones in the Atlantic / Caribbean being called hurricanes. A local says “typhoon” is a local name for hurricanes, but it’s usually used for tropical cyclones in the Pacific. This smacks of someone coming up with the name first and thinking up the plot details later.

Opinions: This is more of a disaster adventure than a mystery: think Key Largo instead of The Big Sleep, with more running through the hurricane and none of that Bogart / Bacall chemistry. Frank, Joe, and the girls spend almost half the book running around in a hurricane. There are some interesting bits, a little suspense, but it’s not good as a Hardy Boys book.

And the quipping! My God, they can’t stop making little puns and quips and … they’re not funny. They stop being entertaining. I get it, they’re trying to keep their spirits up despite horrible batterings from attackers and a hurricane. But … just stop it. Stop it!

At least here, unlike in the Undercover Brothers book Hurricane Joe (#11), the author realizes hurricanes don’t appear one afternoon with no warning and evaporate by the next morning.

Grade: C-. No more plucky quipping!

No comments:

Post a Comment