After a new friend they met at a local comic book convention goes missing, Frank and Joe dig into her life, hoping to find out where she might have gone. But the more they find out about her, the more mysterious she becomes. Original.
It's a case of hidden identities for brother detectives Frank and Joe in the in the eighteenth book in the thrilling Hardy Boys Adventures series.
The Hardy brothers and Frank's new girlfriend, Jones, are attending a local comic book convention on the shore. They meet up with Jones's friend Harper, a fellow comics super fan, on the boardwalk outside the convention. The four of them spend hours running from booth to booth and end the perfect day with pizza at Harper's short-term rental apartment.
Things don't stay so perfect, though. On the way home, Jones realizes she switched phones with Harper by accident and she is getting some really scary texts. When they show up at the apartment the next day, they find it totally destroyed and Harper is missing.
Frank and Joe start digging into their new friend's life, hoping to find out where she might have gone, but the more they find out about her, the more mysterious she becomes. Can Frank and Joe find this secretive character? Or has she disappeared forever?
Franklin W. Dixon is the author of the ever-popular Hardy Boys books.
The Disappearance 1 GEEKING OUT JOE YOU GUYS," MY BROTHER''S GIRLFRIEND, Jones, suddenly gasped, staring at her phone with her mouth hanging wide open. "Oh. My. Gosh. Did you know--" "That the whole cast of Mercury Man will be there, signing autographs?" Frank finished, then pulled off the Garden State Parkway, following the exit for Atlantic City. "Yeah, but unfortunately, it''s a ticketed event. We would have had to get our tickets, like, six months ago. And we didn''t even know each other then!" Jones beamed at him from the passenger seat ("Girlfriends automatically get shotgun," Frank had told me with some regret as he''d kicked me out of the seat when we picked up Jones) but shook her head, her straight black hair, cut just below her chin, barely moving. "I can''t believe we''ve only known each other for a month. Like, was there ever a time we weren''t together? But no . . . I was going to tell you that Breakwater Comics is going to have a booth." She pressed a button to put her phone to sleep and placed it in her lap. "Tiny little comics store in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, but they have this amazing website. The owner is almost more like a curator than a straight seller--he finds some amazing stuff." She let out a satisfied sigh, settling back in the seat and looking straight ahead. "I''m going to check out his booth, like, first thing." "After we go by the Hellion booth to get our free comic," Frank said with a smile. "Remember? They''re only printing it for this convention." "Oh my gosh," Jones replied. "I can''t believe I almost forgot. There''s just so much to get excited about!" In the backseat, I cleared my throat. "Like lunch!" I put in. "Remember, you guys said we could check out the boardwalk. I want to get some saltwater taffy." That might sound a little childish. But saltwater taffy, especially consumed on a boardwalk, just minutes after it was pulled, is freakin'' amazing. That''s a fact. Jones turned back to me with a slightly surprised look, like she''d forgotten I was there. "Oh, of course, Joe," she said. "The Comic-Con is in Boardwalk Hall, which is right there. But maybe after we do all the time-sensitive things at the convention." What am I doing? I wondered. I waited until she turned around before frowning out at the flat sandy land that bordered the Atlantic City Expressway. How had I, Joe Hardy, Relatively Cool Guy, ended up spending the first Saturday of my spring break driving to a comic book convention in Atlantic City with my older brother and his girlfriend? Surely there were cooler things I could be doing, like--well, anything. It''s not that I don''t like comics, or, more specifically, comic book movies. I went to see Wonder Woman and Black Panther like everyone else, and I will admit, they were totally awesome. But unlike Frank, I don''t have whole boxes of comic books hidden under my bed, and I can''t spend hours debating with you which Doctor Who was the best or whether the campy Batman television series from the 1960s should be considered "canon" or not. Know who can, though? Jones. Jones isn''t bad. I mean, she''s pretty cool. She''s really friendly and never seems to have a problem with my hanging out with them, even if I sigh loudly and roll my eyes every time they start to act mushy. She''s also supersmart. She''s probably smarter than Frank. Jones is homeschooled, which means she helps set her own curriculum and decides what she wants to study. So she has a wealth of knowledge about random, obscure topics, and she can spend hours telling you interesting facts about octopi (that''s more than one octopus, FYI) or the history of Barbados or who assassinated James Garfield (it was this weird guy named Charles Guiteau--look him up). Yeah, Jones is pretty cool. The thing is--ever since Frank met her at a book signing last month, he and Jones have been inseparable. I wake up on a Saturday morning, and whereas Frank and I used to laze around on the couch watching Netflix until noon, now Jones is there, and she''s brought over some obscure DVD of a Danish movie about a shark person. And she and Frank are, like, making clever little quips to each other about this extremely depressing Danish movie about a shark person, and I''m like, "Hey, wanna watch Stranger Things again?" and Frank is like, "Maybe some other time, Joe," and then Jones offers me popcorn and I just want to punch something. Or also, like, yell, Don''t you have a home?! which I know is unfair and not the nicest way to treat a cool person like Jones. See, it''s not usually like this. Usually I''m the person bringing girls around, or bagging on plans with Frank to hang out with a girl I like. Which maybe means I should be more understanding, but also means that I''m just not used to having to share Frank with a girl. And--honestly--I kind of miss the guy. Usually, it''s the Frank and Joe show, all the time, everywhere, with the two of us teaming up to solve mysteries and eat lunch together and make clever in-jokes about Stranger Things on a Saturday morning. So it''s not bad that Frank has found someone he really likes in Jones--I get that. It''s just . . . different. But it''s cool. I''ll get used to it. I want to get used to it. Which was why, when Frank came home a couple of weeks ago all jazzed that Jones had told him about this Comic-Con (not the huge Comic-Con, but a small, local one) that was happening in Atlantic City, which was within driving distance from our house, I asked if I could tag along. Frank, bless him, was like, "Yeah, Joe, that would be awesome!" He seemed genuinely excited, maybe because I have a tendency to fall asleep when he tries to tell me cool stories from his comic books. And I will admit--I was kind of supposed to be studying for the SAT, which I was going to take for the second time a week from today. According to my parents, this spring break would be an "excellent opportunity to really drill down and study hard." To drive this point home, my mom went to the library and borrowed approximately 3,684 SAT prep books for me to study. Who even knew you could take out that many books? Anyway, I don''t love studying. Who does, when it''s a beautiful spring day and the sun is shining? So here I was. In a car. Headed to Comic-Con with my brother and his girlfriend. Who were making moony eyes at each other. "Frank, watch the road!" I yelled. Frank turned back to the highway just in time to notice a Volkswagen swinging into the lane ahead of him. "Whoa! Where''d he come from? Anyway, Jones, did Harper text you?" "Who''s Harper?" I asked Jones. "Friend of yours from the Last Names as First Names Club?" She snorted and shook her head. "Very funny, Joe. No, she''s a girl I know from the InkWorld online community." She lifted up her phone again and began scrolling through it. "Oh, yeah. She texted about half an hour ago, I forgot I had my phone on silent. She says she can meet us on the boardwalk when we get there--near Sandee''s Frozen Banana Shack. It''s right across from the hall where the convention is." I pulled out my phone and Google Mapped it. "Ooh, it''s also right across from the Fiorelli Saltwater Taffy shop," I said. "Perfect!" cried Jones, turning around to me with a bright white smile. "See," Frank said, pulling off the Atlantic City Expressway, "I can just tell this is going to be an amazing day. There''s something for everybody!" * "Oh. My. Gosh! I can''t believe it!" Jones, Frank, and I were wandering through the con-related crowd, around the off-season snack shops and souvenir stands--some open, others closed--when Jones suddenly cried out and took off. I couldn''t say anything, because my mouth was filled with saltwater taffy. Peanut butter, by the way, is by far the best flavor. But Frank looked at me and nodded in the direction Jones disappeared in, like, Shall we follow her? I nodded back, like sure. We passed through a big group of middle school girls, who were all comparing their superhero costumes--most popular component: tinfoil--and emerged to find Jones hugging an older girl. The girl was in her midtwenties, maybe, with a big smile and long, wavy auburn hair tied back with a black-and-white scarf. She was wearing a T-shirt that said I AM WONDER WOMAN, THANKS FOR NOTICING. She was cute, I couldn''t help but observe. Jones let the girl go, and the girl--Harper, I was guessing--looked around the boardwalk with a furrowed brow like she was searching for someone. Then she quickly turned back to Jones, all smiles. Hmm, I thought. Wonder who else she could be looking for? "It''s so amazing to meet you in person," she told Jones. "I feel like I know you already! You always make the best comments, and we''ve had all these long private conversations." Jones grinned. "You''re like my online sister," she said. "Which is way better than a real-life sister, because I don''t have to share a bedroom." Harper laughed, shaking her head. "That''s so funny," she said, "because my boyfriend, Matt, always jokes about how he''s sharing me with you and all my online buddies." Boyfriend. Well, there it was. Even if I could somehow convince Harper to fall for a teenager, she was taken. Bummer. <b
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