Here's my review for Hardy Boys Casefiles 22! I'm posting it here, because it will most likely be over a month, before I post it to my YouTube channel. (Stupid backlog!)
This book begins on the perfect note, by talking about how delicious bacon cheeseburgers are. 10 out of 10, would read that again.
A man named Chris has requested a top secret meeting with Mr. Hardy, in an abandoned part of town. Frank and Joe show up in their father's place, which happens a lot in this series. I mean, they SAY that Mr. Hardy is a great detective, but so far, the only thing he's great at is letting his teenage kids do all of his work.
The meeting is interrupted, when the culprits show up and shoot Chris six times in the chest. Today's culprits are communist secret police, and they've been hired to stop a man named Janosik from giving an anti-communist speech at Harvard this week.
The minor culprit is a nervous man named Dr. Liehm, while the major culprit is a huge guy named Gregor Krc. Krc knocks Joe out with one hit, AND he insults Joe's manhood, so you know we're gonna see this guy again.
Back with Chris, he miraculously survived the drive-by shooting, because he had a video cassette tape under his shirt. The bullets all hit the tape instead of his heart. Oh. Wow. Is that tape made of steel or something? Because all the cassettes I used in the 80's were cheap plastic.
Chris introduces himself as Chris Hardy, Frank and Joe's long-lost brother. He proves his identity with photos, a driver's license, and random family trivia. Sadly, we can't ask Mom and Dad about Chris' true identity, because they're on a "let's stretch out this mystery as long as possible" vacation. So we'll just have to believe Chris when he says he's our bro.
Instead of asking Chris for details about the case, everyone goes to sleep. 'Cause, you know, there's no reason to question a suspicious guy with an obviously fake cover story.
Chris decides he doesn't want to get his brothers involved in this dangerous situation, so he runs away in the middle of the night. He doesn't leave a note or an explanation or anything; he just ditches them without warning, like a huge jerk.
Well, that clinches it. He's a Hardy.
There's another run-in with the culprits, and the Hardys get help from their buddy, Phil Cohen. Phil has repaired the magic, life-saving video cassette. The video shows Chris shooting a police officer. So the lost Hardy Brother is a murderer? Oh no!
Phil also gets the Hardys into Harvard, with the help of a computer hacker called "The Beast". Our heroes split up at this point. Joe follows Janosik, the guy who's giving a speech. The culprits harass Janosik for a bit, and Joe follows them back to their office building, where he is immediately captured.
Meanwhile, Frank visits a reporter. He learns that the culprits are trying to destroy Janosik's reputation, by handing out videos of Janosik taking bribes. With help from "The Beast", Frank tracks the videos to their source: the building where Joe was captured.
Chris is there, because why not? Let's have all three Hardy Boys show up at the same place, at the same time, independently of one another. Chris helps hack their security system, and they save Joe from being killed, but Chris disappears again.
The Hardys go back home, where their family members solve the case. Dad and Mom explain that Chris is a foster child who they took care of, for about half a year. That's how Chris knows all about the family. Meanwhile, Aunt Gertrude watches the magic videotape, and she recognizes it as a scene from a movie. They just copy/pasted Chris' face over the actor's.
It should have been a dead giveaway that Chris had Tom Cruise's body.
Anyway, the videotape is a fake! Meaning the videotape of Janosik taking bribes is probably a fake, too. He's still a good guy, so the case is back on!
We track down Chris. He explains that he helped the culprits make these fake videotapes, before realizing they are evil. You think he would have figured that out sooner, when they asked him to fake a video of him shooting another person, but he didn't. Good thing he's not really related to the Hardys, because his detective instincts are bad.
The Hardys show up at Janosik's speech, just in time to catch the culprits. As usual, we have a big chase sequence, and Joe has an intense fight with Krc. Who's the better man now, Krc? Who's the better man now?
In the end, Chris and "The Beast" are punished for their crimes, by being ordered to teach five hundred hours of computer classes at Harvard. Considering how much Harvard pays its teachers, that's not much of a punishment.
This is a good action book, with fights and dangerous scenes. The mystery was not as good; it's pretty easy to guess that the culprits are plotting to stop Janosik. Before the first chapter ended, I knew the communists would be the bad guys again, and the anti-communist would be a hero-victim.
The weakest part of the book was the subplot with Chris. I was excited by the idea of a third Hardy Brother, but he was gone most of the time. He didn't stay around long enough to make an impression. They could have replaced him with a completely unrelated stranger, and things would have played out the exact same way. Imagine how different it would have been if Chris had told Frank and Joe the truth from the beginning! I would have preferred that book, compared to Chris pretending to be a Hardy to create fake drama.
I give Hardy Boys Casefiles #22, Double Exposure, a 9 out of 10.