St. Martin's, Oct 2002, 22.95, 288 pp.
Their father is a private detective and it's no secret in the northeastern city of Bayport that his sons Frank and Joe want to follow in his footsteps. In 1947, they and their friends take a motorcycle ride ending up at the abandoned Polucca house. They take shelter inside and notice some footprint in the dust and fingerprints on the staircase. They run out screaming when they hear strange noises from upstairs.
Their father is working on a smuggling case and the Hardy Boys think the Polucca house is the smugglers' base of operations. The boys snoop and find a cave near the house only accessible by boat. When Alex Polucca moves in, Frank and Joe sneak into the garage and find a secret door that leads them down in to a catacomb, which eventually takes them to the cave. Before they can report their findings to the police, their father disappears, his hat in Alex's car. The boys think their father is being held by the smugglers in the catacombs but are afraid if the police search the place, he will be killed. They need a plan.
Benjamin Hoff, author of THE TAO OF POOL, has had a love affair with the Hardy Boy books since he was a youngster. He has rewritten the classic THE HOUSE ON THE CLIFF making it attractive to older readers as well as the teenage set. The Hardy boys use inductive and deductive reasoning as they follow the clues so the audience really believes these high school students have enough insider knowledge to solve the case. Mr. Hoff deserves Kudos for his delightful reinterpretation of a cherished novel.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner