Extreme Danger

By Franklin W. Dixon
ages 8 and older
Tuesday, July 19, 2005

 Your dad might have read Hardy Boys books when he was a kid. He might even have gotten you to read some of his old copies. And you may have thought, "C'mon, Dad." After all, the original Hardy Boys books contained lines such as, "Come on boys. I found a swell clue." Brothers Joe and Frank Hardy seemed so, well, nerdy.

The Hardy boys of the "Undercover Brothers" series are definitely not your father's Hardy boys. In this very updated version of mysteries starring the brother detectives, Joe says things such as, "Cleaning up crime? I'm into it. Cleaning up parrot poop? Not so much."

The first mystery in the new series involves a possible attack at the Big Air Games, where extreme sports stars and fans have gathered for intense competition. Unlike the earlier Hardy Boys series, Joe and Frank are undercover in these books. Nobody knows that the brothers are the amateur detective sons of Fenton Hardy, "renowned as a supersleuth" (as he was described in the first HB book, written in 1927).

Another difference is that the brothers tell the story, with Joe narrating one chapter and Frank narrating the next. That technique helps the reader discover the personalities and characteristics of the two brothers.

Frank and Joe seem a lot more like regular kids -- who have LOTS of wild adventures -- in these books, which also deal with issues that kids today might have thought about. For example, the second book in the series, "Running on Fumes," deals with environmentalists who go a little too far to try to save trees.

Another reason to love these books: At $1.99 per paperback, they make perfect beach reads.

-- Tracy Grant

© 2005 The Washington Post Company