Monday, May 6, 2013

What's on Your Bookshelf? The Book I Can't Throw Away

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?


Anonymous said...

I ran across a Trixie Belden book in some of my things here while back. I didn't throw it away either. Funny I remember reading them, the Bobbsy Twins, of course Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys. I wasn't much older than eight either I don't think.

cheap nike nfl jerseys said...

Thanks for posting this.This is awesome!!

Jim Jackson said...


How great to meet you in person at Malice. We're slowing heading back home, so I can't give actual titles, but I have a number of books passed down through the family. One that is priceless for its advice to girls circa 1800.

It's not quite as practical as your Hardy Boys Detective Handbook!

~ Jim

E. B. Davis said...

Do Penguins Have Knees? by David Feldman is probably my weirdest book on the shelf. I bought it to help me answer my kids' questions about nature. I guess I'm keeping it until the grandchildren are born and grow to that stage. I like the title so I have no problem keeping it on my shelf.

Good to see you again at Malice, Shari. I'm sorry that I missed most of the conference, but meeting with all of you on Friday was terrific.

Shari Randall said...

It was great to meet you, too, EB and Jim - what a great time.
I think that advice to girls book would make a fascinating post, Jim!

Warren Bull said...

I have a Webster's Dictionary published in 1879, which I use to find interesting words for when I write about the mid 1800s.

carla said...

The Hardy Boys were my favorite! I think the fact that they were a team made the stories strong. Nancy Drew was too girlie!

Anonymous said...

What a fun book to have! I can see why you don't want to get rid of it.

Unknown said...

Thanks for telling me about your blog post! My copy is a 1972 update, and while the info appears to be the same, they changed up the illustrations to make them more in lime with the times (my John Doe page is different than yours). I like to think that this is the reference manual one of my amateur sleuths would turn to when it comes to solving the crimes she stumbles upon.

I agree with everything you said about this book and now I want the 1959 version too!