Monday, July 1, 2013

Framing Huck Finn-NBT #6-Mystery on the Mississippi

    Book 6 finds the twins on vacation on a vintage steamboat chugging down the Misissippi river! Their cruise will take them to Mark Twain's hometown and the whole family is looking forward to the historic trip. They start off as carefree tourists exploring the 4 deck steamboat and meeting the crew of the ship.

     Soon though, they find out that the son of the cook is about the age of the older twins as is a bit of a mischief maker. He plays practical jokes on the crew, and runs around undisciplined since the death of his mother.  He even sometimes dresses the part of Huck Finn, and sure acts like him!

      Things seem to come to a boil when Mr. Ford, a passenger on the  boat says that young Larry stole notes he was taken on the works of Mark Twain. Larry secretly tells the twins that he indeed did take the paper as a joke. He shows it to the twins, but it's just letters and numbers that they can't decipher. They try to convince him to return it regardless.

     To make matters worse, a few hours later, an autographed copy of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is stolen from the ship's library! This is more serious-since this 19th century copy is valued at $50,000!  Larry's pocketknife is found at the crime scene, and it is apparent that the display case's latch was broken into with a knife. With Larry's history of pranks, Captain Collins, and even Larry's father, the cook, Mr. Granville doesn't believe Larry when he denies stealing the book.  Everyone is inconvenienced-the Captain says that Larry previously stole some rare books from his private collection, (which Larry admits, but reminds the captain that he returned them the same day), Mr. Granville worries that he will lose his job, and Mr. Ford says that he can't use the book as a reference for his essay, so it won't be finished when they reach Hannibal, Missouri.  The captain decides that if the book isn't returned by the time they reach their next port, he's calling the police!


     The twins believe that Larry is innocent, and search the boat for the book, but when they can't find it, and go back to Larry's cabin to tell him, they discover that he's gone!  The captain has the boat come to a dead stop and they search for him-finally the Bobbseys find him hiding out in their rooms. He begs for their help, which they agree to, but say that he must give himself up.

     Since the book wasn't found, Captain Collins has no choice but to call in the law, and Larry and his father are taken to the police station. They return him a few hours later, and his father locks him in his cabin, but Larry escapes and runs away!

     The Bobbseys realize that this time he would have left the boat (since it's still docked), and they leave the ship to find him (to the displeasure of their parents that don't want them to get involved).

     They have several misadventures including a graveyard search and a spooky cave.

     During these evening searches, the twins encounter Mr. Ford who says that he followed them since they seem to have a better feel for Larry's way of thinking then the adults do, and maybe they can find him and he can get his notes back. He explains that he isn't really writing an essay-he's an undercover policeman. The force received a tip on thieves who steal rare books and sell them, and so he was guarding the Mark Twain book on the boat.

      The twins and Mr. Ford approach a cave that's opening is too small for an adult to fit in, and so the twins enter alone.  They know they are on Larry's trail when they spot Mr. Ford's notes that Larry must have dropped in the cave as he passed.

     In the cave, Nan and Bert get a chance to examine the notes carefully:

and discover that it has a list of buyers for the book on it. Things don't add up, and the twins figure out that Mr. Ford is really the one who stole the book, and the notes he so desperately wants contain the buyers for it!

     The twins were able to stay on Larry's trail by following Huck Finn's hiding spots. They realize that if Larry knows that someone found his graveyard and cave hiding spots, he may have rowed to one of the small islands on the river.  In a final showdown on rowboats, the twins find Larry, and capsize Mr. Ford's boat (he is chasing them as he now realizes that they are wise to him). This showdown makes Captain Collins believe that Larry is innocent and Mr. Ford is the crook as the twins tried to tell him.  They find the antique book, amid Mr. Ford's things, and the captain praises and rewards the Bobbseys for solving the case
This book was ok, but I didn't like it as much as the prior books in the series. Maybe because the Mark Twainish plot doesn't interest me as much as glamourous movie stars, visitors from space, sabotage of an amusement park, and the other plotlines in previous books. But the mystery is appealing, the plot is well constructed and the way everything plays out seems believable. It also does teach the lesson of not crying wolf. Larry's antics make it very difficult to believe in his innocence. If the Bobbsey Twins didn't have such a feel for people, they wouldn't have believed he was framed either, and Larry would have been in REAL trouble.
     I misplaced book #7, so for now, I will skip it and review book #8 next. Please feel free to let me know what you think, and i'll see you next time 

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