Judy Bolton Days

Judy Bolton Days
First annual in 1991!

Monday, March 14, 2011


Biff Brewster #3:

This is a very good book and I really enjoyed it. A great mystery-adventure!

Biff and his entire family travel to Hawaii for a vacation while his dad attends a mining engineer's conference.  As soon as they arrive, all kinds of intrigue begins and, of course, Biff finds himself at the very center of it. Mr. Brewster's associate, Dr. Weber, a famous scientist he was supposed to meet in Honolulu, is missing, and before you can say 'Aloha' Biff and his dad are off in search of him.

Biff's native buddy in this book is Li, a young Hawaiian boy, and I like the way he is portrayed. He's not the usual 'unafraid of anything' Biff-buddy. This kid gets scared at times and it's very realistic. Off the boys go, island-hopping with their dads in search of the missing scientist, a sunken sloop, and the map to a cache of Cesium, a rare mineral important to rocket 

Biff's dad plays an important role in this adventure like he did in #1 Brazilian Gold Mine Mystery.
  Again, it's nice to read about father and son sharing an adventure like this and getting along so well. They eventually rent a yawl and take off by sea for the big island of Hawaii as they search for the missing scientist. They end up at the southern cape of the island where dads and sons get separated, Biff and Li get separated by a Kona storm, and the ruthless rival engineer who is their enemy  shows up ready to do away with them all.  Much of the action takes place on Mauna Loa, a volcano that apparently takes up the entire lower part of the cape, and the waters that surround it.  Of course, I had a map out and everything checked out correctly.

This book was probably written by the author of #2 Mystery of the Chinese Ring, who is unknown, as this is the only other Biff Brewster with unknown authorship. It has the same simple style and flowing pace  where the story and suspense build nicely without any kind of overwriting or confusion. Also, a plus in this book, you could trade the names Biff, Li, and Tom Brewster for Rick, Scotty, and Hartson Brant, and you'd have a terrific Rick Brant book here. There is enough science to satisfy that requirement and the story is very much like the beloved Rick Brant South Seas epics such as 100 Fathoms Under and The Phantom Shark. Rick and Scotty would have had a good time with this mystery-adventure. If you are a Rick Brant fan and haven't read the Biff Brewster books, start now. Biff is enough like Rick, yet refreshingly himself, to satisfy any Rick Brant cravings.

Probably the Biff Brewster books were meant to compete with the Rick Brants, but of course any young reader would have wanted all of them, both the Biffs and the Ricks.  I rate this book a 9 out 10. It's a really good adventure out in the warm South Seas sun, especially appealing at this wintry time of year when most of us just wish we were 16 again like Biff and could go roaming around the world getting caught up in this kind of excitement!

Friday, March 11, 2011


A Rick Brant fan-written adventure from 1959. This book could be considered a sequel to The Phantom Shark.
To get all the chapters currently available on this blog, click on 'Golden Dragon' under Labels on side panel.


All the chapters currently available are now on this alternate site:
THE QUEST OF THE GOLDEN DRAGON https://sites.google.com/site/rickbrantfanfiction/dragon



Thursday, March 3, 2011


Biff Brewster #1:

A great beginning for a terrific boys adventure series!

This is the first book in the Biff Brewster series and it was written by Walter Gibson, a pulp writer famous for The Shadow series. It is believed that he actually rewrote this story from an original manuscript that G&D was not satisfied with, but the story and text bear all the hallmarks of his florid exciting style and it is very representative of his usual works. Gibson also wrote a few other books in this series, a Vicki Barr Stewardess Mystery entitled The Brass Idol Mystery, and perhaps some other series books as a ghostwriter. One that I suspect he wrote is The Ruby Ray Mystery, a Rick Brant book that seems to have Gibson's signature style all over it.

This book starts off with Biff flying down to Brazil from his home in Indiana to meet his dad for a jungle safari, a sort of 16th birthday gift for him. His dad is a field engineer for Ajax Mining Company and they will be seeking out rubber supplies in the jungle. His dad's boss, Mr. Stannart, gives Biff a letter to deliver to his dad, and Biff is told to guard it with his life. On the airplane ride down there a strange fellow tries to get too friendly with Biff, and when Biff does meet up with his dad the secret letter proves to be a warning of impending danger. The real reason for the safari is revealed to Biff; the search for a fabulous gold mine of the legendary El Dorado along a tributary of the Amazon.

All the obligatory troubles beset them. Their hotel room is ransacked. They are kidnapped and brought upriver in a boat. And it all proves out to be part of an elaborate plan to stop the safari by others who are looking for the gold mine too.  Biff meets Kamuka, an Indian boy who is his buddy in this book, and the safari finally gets under way only to be beset by more treachery and peril than even Indiana Jones ever has to deal with. Giant anaconda cobras, head-hunters, quicksand, treacherous native bearers, and every other imaginable danger of the Amazon region plague the safari as they follow jungle trails, rivers, move on, get captured, escape, and on and on.

The action literally never stops in this book and there are a lot of great escapes and a good deal of suspense. A lot of research work was put into this story and there is a great deal of interesting geography related.  The problem of the many languages spoken in the region is not skirted. It is handled well and a lot of thought was put into working it out. There is also a very good surprise twist at the end, almost a regular feature in every Biff Brewster book. Even so, I didn't expect it at all.

The Biff Brewster series was a property of Grosset & Dunlap publishers, not a Stratemeyer Syndicate property as many fans and collectors believe. Several different writers were used for the thirteen volumes in the series, and the other books that Gibson wrote are Mystery of the Mexican Treasure, Mystery of the Ambush in India, Egyptian Scarab Mystery, and Mystery of the Alpine Pass. Gibson was noted for planting clues in his books that show up in other books by him, a way for his avid fans to know that he had written books under pseudonyms. You can find many of these 'plants' in all these books.

I rate this book a 9 out of 10. It's a stellar example of what boys' adventure mysteries used to be like in the days when adventure and mystery were the focus, not high tech gadgetry and whiz-bang world-hopping. It'd be great to have books like this being written today, about real live boys who have realistic adventures  with real villains, not pseudo-human boys with silly magical powers having fantasy adventures with monsters, non-humans, and the living dead.

Will realistic books for young people ever be popular again? Or are we doomed to have to bear with books that don't use humans as heroes or villains because you just can't say anything not nice about anybody anymore without getting a finger pointed at you? The politically correct movement has gotten way out of hand when editors will not even consider books about real young people battling real human villains!