THE HOUSE ON THE POINT: A Tribute to Franklin W. Dixon and the Hardy Boys
Long a fan of the intrepid Hardy brothers, Hoff (The Tao of Pooh; The Te of Piglet) has produced a weird clone-cum-fulmination on the present state of American society in his updated rewrite of the second entry in the classic series, The House on the Cliff (1927). Set in 1947, during the big band era, Hoff's book evokes the music of the period in a way the original never did, with writing more fluid than the pseudonymous Dixon's. In a preface and two epilogues, Hoff expounds on his decision to enrich the plot by allowing Frank and Joe Hardy to tell the story, thus giving them more depth and individuality, and by endowing the female characters briefly mentioned in the prototype—Mrs. Hardy, Callie Shaw and Iola Morton—with spunk and intelligence. Unfortunately, stiff dialogue, a repetitious, minimally suspenseful plot and a tendency to first describe the action then show it probably won't satisfy even nostalgic Hardy Boys fans. There's little change in social structure, with the strait-laced characters and organized home life that Dixon portrayed and Hoff obviously admires mirrored in a novel whose juvenile simplicity is bound to weary some adult readers. And the author's diatribe against consumerism, uncontrollable contemporary youth and the lack of arts education in our schools is peculiar and out of place at best. (Oct. 14)
Forecast:While mystery regulars may stay away in droves, fans of Hoff's other recastings of childhood favorites could boost sales to a respectable level.