The Case of the Disappearing Detectives
The Hardy Boys vanish, then reappear as the Undercover Brothers.
For more than seven decades the Hardy Boys were unwaveringly successful teenaged sleuths. Frank and Joe Hardy consistently managed to outwit the most hardened criminals despite existing in a state of perpetual adolescence. But earlier this year our ageless boy wonders finally met their maker, so to speak, when their Digest book series was unceremoniously discontinued due to plummeting sales. After 78 years and 190 volumes the Hardy Boys were finally overcome by their stuffy and dated image, the youth audience no longer captivated by their unlikely exploits.
Yet, Frank and Joe have proven remarkably resilient, joining a secret government organization called ATAC (American Teens Against Crime), which, in spite of their instantly recognizable visages, somehow employs them as undercover agents. By repositioning themselves as the Undercover Brothers—not to mention making every effort to be hip—the boys landed a new book deal, one that figures to keep them fighting crime well into the twenty-first century. In fact, volumes 1-4—“Extreme Danger,” “Running on Fumes,” “Boardwalk Bust” and “Thrill Ride”—are already at bookstores, and more adventures are just around the corner.
For many Hardy Boys enthusiasts, Frank and Joe were long overdue for a makeover, a sentiment shared by Dan Gutman, who developed story outlines for six Undercover Brothers titles. “Over the years there have been a number of attempts to update, modernize and refresh The Hardy Boys,” begins Gutman. “But in my view, they’ve never made the Hardy’s cool. That’s what we’re trying to do now. They’ve always been teenagers who solve crimes and kick butt. They need to be cool teenagers who solve crimes and kick butt.”