Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Review of "Boys’ Life Mystery Stories," by editors of Boys’ Life

 Review of

Boys’ Life Mystery Stories, by editors of Boys’ Life

Five out of five stars

Fairly typical YA adventures of the fifties

 There are ten short stories in this collection and nearly all open with a hint of supernatural activity. However, once the investigators pursue the issue, in all cases there is a fundamental, scientific, human behavior explanation. All of the players are male, after reading it I could not remember even a reference to a female.

 The best story in the collection is “The Whirlpool,” by Robb White. Barry Benton is an Eagle Scout and on a naturalist expedition in the Brazilian rain forest. He severely damages both ankles and since they are some distance from the nearest outpost of civilization, the other explorer on the expedition took the boat. His plan was to go to that outpost and have them send a helicopter to rescue Barry. He was left plenty of food and water as well as a rifle with ammunition.

 Barry get nervous when he hears a rustling on the outskirts of the camp. He does not recognize the sounds as being that of an animal and when he looks closely, there is no discernible shape. To his horror, he realizes that the sound is being made by a colony of ants on the move towards his position. While he is on the edge of the river, going into the water is not an option, for there are piranhas. Leaving him with the options of being eaten by ants or by fish.  How Barry manages to survive is an example of a knowledgeable person using the basic principles of nature to create a simple, yet effective solution.

 While the other stories do not have the intensity of “The Whirlpool,” they are still pretty good. Even though there are no females, the adventure stories have maintained their quality over the intervening decades.

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