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The Smuggler's Legacy
Table of Contents
About The Book
A buried secret becomes a big problem for Frank and Joe in the twenty-fifth book in the thrilling Hardy Boys Adventures series.
Frank and Joe are on a history club trip to New York City, and their first stop is the Prohibition Museum where they’ll hear about how smugglers building getaway vehicles led to the rise of modern stock car racing. During a tour of damp escape tunnels beneath the museum, Frank slips and breaks a wall panel with his elbow, revealing a hidden compartment containing documents from the 1920s!
The documents reveal that The Gilded Top Hat—the speakeasy which later became the Prohibition Museum—wasn’t actually owned by the Faccini brothers who were arrested for its bootlegging operations. The museum curator is eager to investigate this lead into the speakeasy’s history, and never ones to turn down a good case, Frank and Joe volunteer to help out. But before long, someone steals the documents and sends the boys warnings to stop digging into the past. Can Frank and Joe uncover the truth before it’s buried for another hundred years—and the boys along with it?
NO MATTER WHAT, I AM getting a big, crispy, gooey slice of New York City pizza on this trip. That is the number one priority, as far as I’m concerned,” I told my brother, Frank.
He was sitting across from me on the Amtrak train from Bayport to Manhattan, looking over the itinerary for the Bayport High History Club trip. It was a jam-packed four-day weekend of visiting museums and historical sites around New York City, especially those relating to the Jazz Age and Prohibition. Mr. Lakin, one of our favorite teachers, was running the trip. A while back, we’d helped him get out of a tight spot when he was framed for murder during a historical reenactment. Now—even though we weren’t regular members of the History Club—if there were activities going on that also involved a major dose of fun, he made sure to let us know.
“We came all the way to New York and the thing you’re most excited about is… pizza?” Frank said, looking up from his sheaf of papers. “It can’t be that much better than the pizza in Bayport, can it?”
“Believe me,” I said, mouth watering as I remembered the last time I was in New York and stopped for a classic dollar slice, “it can.”
Frank shook his head but laughed. “Well, the Tenement Museum is on the Lower East Side, so that’s kind of near Little Italy, I think. We can probably go for your pizza afterward.” He paused. “Now you’re making me hungry.”
“I’ll get snacks!” I said. I’d been itching to get out of my seat and walk around for a while. “Chet, want to come?”
Our friend Chet Morton was sitting across the aisle and I knew he was always up for a snack run. “Oooh, yeah. I could go for some chips.” He got up to join.
The train clackety-clacked on the tracks as we made our way to the dining car, grabbing hold of the backs of empty seats as we went by to keep our balance. It was kind of like surfing. Train-surfing.
We couldn’t decide on a reasonable amount of munchies, so the two of us went back to our seats with our arms full of chips, pretzels, M&M’s, popcorn, fruit snacks, and a few sodas. Frank got up to grab some of my haul from me before the leaning tower of snackage spilled and went rolling all over the train car.
We tore into our loot, occasionally passing bags across the aisle and over seat-backs to our other classmates, and watched telephone poles and trees and suburban neighborhoods pass by outside the windows.
“Well,” Frank said, between handfuls of popcorn, “I, for one, am excited about going to the Gilded Top Hat. I heard the entrance is super hidden, like you’d never be able to find it if you didn’t know what you were looking for. It’s not even explained on the website; you have to call and book a tour and then they send you instructions.”
I had to admit, the idea of going through some kind of secret entrance into a covert bar where flappers and gangsters went to party to avoid Prohibition laws did seem exciting. It was a museum now, but at one point, the Gilded Top Hat had been the real thing.
“Mr. Lakin told me we should ask the tour guide about NASCAR,” I said, looking over at Chet, since I knew he was a fan.
“NASCAR?” he said, leaning over, just as I thought he would. Frank offered him the bag of chips he was holding and Chet grabbed a handful. “What does a museum about bootlegging have to do with stock car racing?”
I had to admit, it was fun to be the know-it-all for the moment. “Alcohol smugglers had to have cars that were really fast and maneuverable. So they souped up their engines to make them as supercharged as they could to lose anybody who might be chasing them.”
“Huh,” Chet said appreciatively, before popping some chips into his mouth. “Who knew!”
“The next and final station stop is New York Penn Station. Please gather your personal belongings and prepare to exit. New York Penn Station is next.” The announcement came over the crackly loudspeaker, and all around, people started murmuring and shuffling and heaving luggage down from the overhead bins.
Mr. Lakin stood up from where he had been sitting a few rows ahead. “Okay, Bayport High History Club, everyone gather your things and follow me. Penn Station is busy, so let’s stay together. We’re heading to the downtown C train. Everyone has their MetroCard, right?”
I heard a few scattered yeses from the club members. There were fifteen of us spread across several surrounding rows. Once we’d all pushed our way off the train and up from the platform, we emerged into the wide-open lobby area. The other chaperones, Jane Havrilla, a new student teacher who worked with Mr. Lakin in the history department, and James Milstein, a librarian from the Bayport Public Library, walked on either side of the group, corralling us like one of us might wander off. Ms. Havrilla seemed nervous in the crowd, and her eyes kept darting from student to student; she looked like she was silently counting us. I felt kind of bad for her, looking so stressed.
We all piled into the C train. I grabbed on to a pole near the door. Frank got a seat, but then Charlene Vale got on and he practically jumped up to give it to her. Ever since our trip on the Mayhem Express, an immersive murder mystery theater experience that turned into a very real missing person case, Frank had been totally into her. They’d been talking on the phone and texting constantly and had hung out a bunch of times, just the two of them. I could see why he liked her: as the news blogger for the Bayport High newspaper, she was smart, curious, determined, and always on the hunt for the next big story. She took being a journalist just about as seriously as we took our investigations. And it didn’t hurt that she was really cute, too. Still, Frank hadn’t actually asked her to be his girlfriend yet. I knew he was working up to it though. He was definitely going to do it. Eventually.
“Thanks,” she said, flashing Frank a megawatt smile. He opened his mouth like he was about to say something, then closed it like he’d changed his mind, then just gave a goofy smile back. Yikes. It was painful to watch.
Frank managed to start having a conversation with Charlene about touring the National Jazz Museum in Harlem. At the next stop, a couple of guys with guitars got on the train and started singing a Beatles song, and I couldn’t eavesdrop anymore. When the band was finished playing, one of them came around with his baseball cap out, and I tossed in the change from my snack trip. He was actually a pretty good singer.
We transferred trains at the bustling West 4th Street station, then got off at Broadway-Lafayette Street, near where we’d be staying.
“All right, everyone, stay together. It’s only a short walk. And make sure you look up as we go! A lot of these buildings are historical, and the adornments are the most impressive up high,” Mr. Lakin said, raising his voice over the sirens and car horns and the rumbling of the subway underneath our feet.
We got to the hotel, and everyone headed to their rooms to drop off their stuff and get settled. We’d all planned to meet back in the lobby at 3:00 for our first tour. When we got to our room, Frank put his suitcase on the luggage rack, so I opened mine up on the chair near the windows.
He clicked on the TV to a random channel that was playing a Law & Order rerun. “Hotel rooms are kind of creepy when they’re too silent.”
I shrugged. I’d already seen this episode and figured out the culprit in the first five minutes. “I never understand why you unpack in hotels,” I said, watching Frank move his folded clothes to the empty drawers under the TV. “We’re only here for a few days. You can just grab stuff out of your suitcase.”
Frank laughed. “Mom has me trained, I guess. Besides, your stuff always gets really wrinkled.”
In the background, the TV channel was airing a campaign commercial for a man who, frankly, looked like a Ken doll. Crisp suit, blond hair, blue eyes, teeth so white they had to be bleached. The candidate was looking right into the camera as he sat on the stoop of a building in what seemed to be a busy neighborhood. He declared, “Our current mayor has raised taxes on small business owners, ignored the needs of the vibrant, hardworking immigrant population of this city, and allowed crime rates to soar.”
“Huh, I didn’t realize New York City had a mayoral election happening,” Frank said.
The Ken-doll candidate continued, “My great-great-grandparents came to America with five dollars and a dream and pulled themselves up by their bootstraps. I understand good, honest—”
The alarm I’d set on my phone went off. “Time to head down to meet up with everyone,” I said, clicking the TV off.
In a few minutes, we’d finally get to see the mysterious hidden entrance to the Gilded Top Hat speakeasy.
- Publisher: Aladdin (February 14, 2023)
- Length: 176 pages
- ISBN13: 9781665912457
- Grades: 3 - 7
- Ages: 8 - 12
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