Last week, I blogged about perennially popular mystery series, and this week I found on my bookshelf a relic of my own mystery reading youth. Yes, that is a copy of The Hardy Boys Detective Handbook: Authentic Detective Methods for Solving Mysteries – the 1972 printing of the 1959 original. Why didn’t I have a Nancy Drew Detective Handbook? Did one exist back then? Apologies to fans of Frank and Joe, but I read the Hardy Boys only when I couldn’t get my hands on a Nancy Drew.
Why haven’t I put this book in a yard sale? Well, whenever I crack it open, I fall under its spell. Once more I am an 8-year-old in pigtails who thinks it is entirely possible for two nosy teenagers and their accident prone chum Chet to bring down an international crime syndicate. Besides the fond memories and delicious sense of possibility, there are gems in this book, tips for detectives of all ages, and unintentional laughs for all.
What makes this book so irresistible? First, there’s The Handbook’s style. The Handbook crackles with adolescent male
energy, tough guy lingo, and a noir sensibility. The Joe Friday approach delivers facts to wannabe detectives like a .45 delivers lead.
Second, what a trove of information! Among the tips it offers are (TSA take note) directions for pat downs, schematics for one-, two- and three-man surveillance, a dictionary of legal terminology and criminal slang (“Dive: a place of poor reputation”) and directions for making moulage. If you don’t know moulage, I highly recommend this book.
|"Do Not Pat While Searching"|
Though many of the procedures have been rendered moot by modern technology, and one must no longer carry change for the phone booth in the corner of the drugstore soda shop, spending just five minutes with The Hardy Boys Detective Handbook makes you feel that you can trail a perp, pat him down, and make that collar with the confidence of a teenage detective.
Happily - or sadly - you can find your own copy of the Handbook on Amazon for $.01 plus $3 shipping, but the trip down memory lane is priceless.
What’s the weirdest book on your book shelf? Why do you keep it?