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The House on the Point


The House on the Point

A classic children's detective story is lovingly and respectfully
rewritten and revived.

I must have been about six or seven when I discovered The Mickey
Mouse Club. No, not the one on the Disney Channel. There wasn't a
Disney Channel then, or cable TV, no Telstar, no Sputnik, even. No,
this was the original, with Jimmy Dodd and Roy the Big Mouseketeer,
and Tommy and Annette, and Doreen, and a gaggle of other
pre-pubescent Mouseketeers. And the Hardy Boys. Yep, for a few
precious minutes out of every show, The Mickey Mouse Club
serialized "The Tower Treasure," and I was hooked. Nothing stopped
me from getting home from school and turning on the television ---
no VCRs, you couldn't tape it --- and catching Frank and Joe Hardy
and Iola Martin search for that pirate treasure. I could even sing
the serial's theme music---I still can, actually, but don't tell
anybody --- and I loved every second of it.

Joe and Frank were the teenagers I wanted to grow up to be, and
when I hit that mark, I wanted a girl like Iola on my arm. Time
passed in due course, the serial ended, and was replaced by "Spin
and Marty" or "Clint and Mac" or something, and I was bummed. I was
bummed, that is, until I wandered into a neighborhood bookstore ---
no Barnes and Nobles chain store at the mall, no Amazon on the
computer, no computers in the house --- and found shelf after shelf
of Hardy Boy books. I had no idea. I started jumping up and down
and generally going bananas in the middle of the store. Those were
the first real books I bought.

There's a three-year hole in my comic book collection from that
time period as the result of diverting funds from Clark Kent to
Frank and Joe Hardy. The first one I bought was THE WAILING SIREN
MYSTERY, then THE HOUSE ON THE CLIFF, and onward. I still have them
all. The series has since been readapted, updated, and now in my
opinion, sucks. But the books --- the originals --- were great. For
good or for ill, a lot of my personality was forged by Frank, Joe,
Chet, and all their chums in Bayport.

So you have to understand how I felt late one afternoon when I
received a large manila envelope in the mail, ripped it open, and
found myself staring at THE HOUSE ON THE POINT by Benjamin Hoff,
with the subtitle "A Tribute to Franklin W. Dixon and The Hardy
Boys" on the cover. I'm here to tell you, The Kid got just a little
misty-eyed, and when I got to the dedication, well... let's just
say that everything else I was doing got put on hold as I sat down
and read the bad boy from cover to cover.

Everyone is here, Frank and Joe and Chet, and even some of the
folks I had forgotten about, like Aunt Gertrude (how could I have
forgotten about Aunt Gertrude) and Tony...and the
never-to-be-forgotten Iola. What Hoff has done here is rewrite the
classic THE HOUSE ON THE CLIFF, and update it to 1948, making it at
once new and fresh while retaining the wide-eyed innocence of the

Hoff is best known as the author of THE TAO OF POOH, and if he has
been accused on occasion of perhaps being too in love with the
sound of his own voice, that flaw, whether true or not, can and
should be forgiven with the publication of THE HOUSE ON THE POINT.
What Hoff has done is to quietly develop and sharpen all of the
beloved Hardy Boy principals while keeping them true to their
history. At the same time, Hoff keeps the original plot, which too
often meandered in the original edition, on a laser sharp course
while preserving some of the endearing weaknesses that were part
and parcel of the original work. The Hardys and their chums, out
for a motorbike ride one day, stumble on a supposedly deserted
house overlooking the bay. The house has a reputation of being
haunted and, indeed, the lads are scared off by unearthly laughter.
Over dinner that night Frank and Joe's father, world famous
detective Fenton Hardy, mentions a case which he is working on
which involves smuggling and...the boys put it all together!

The house is being used as a base for the smugglers! Frank and Joe
decide they're going to solve the case without letting their father
know ahead of time, so they're sneaking out of the house, almost
getting shipwrecked, and almost getting caught. They, of course,
ultimately solve the case while making their dad and the town
police chief look like they're asleep at the wheel, while getting a
surprising assist from a surprising quarter. Let's just say that
readers of the original series can be forgiven for thinking that
the savior of the day was only along for comic relief.

The story is nicely bookended by an introduction by a Preface by
Hoff at the beginning, and an afterward and an essay at the
conclusion. The Afterward consists of an enumeration of changes
which Hoff made from the original edition of THE HOUSE ON THE
CLIFF. The essay, "The Art of Seeing," is an interesting critique
of the American education system, approaching the questions of what
is wrong with the system and what can be done to make it better as
a mystery. It seems at first blush oddly out of place in this
volume; but, when one considers that whole generations of
youngsters learned a love of reading as a result of encounters with
the original series, it fits into this volume quite well. Hoff's
Postscript also includes some comments he received in letters from
prospective publishers rejecting THE HOUSE ON THE POINT. While some
of them are accurate, all of them, ultimately, are wrong. St.
Martin's Minotaur deserves a special hurrah, not only for
publishing this work, but also for doing it up right.

Do that nine year-old in your house a favor. Thursday night, put a
crossface crippler on "Smackdown", box up the X-Box, and give them
THE HOUSE ON THE POINT. It's in an interactive format which they
might be unacquainted with, but they'll learn how to use it, the
same way you and I did.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 22, 2011

The House on the Point
by Benjamin Hoff

  • Publication Date: October 17, 2002
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN-10: 0312301081
  • ISBN-13: 9780312301088