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Deprivation House is the first book in the Murder House Trilogy and the 22nd book in The Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers series, overall. It was published in early May 2008 by Aladdin Paperbacks, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.

Plot summary

Thousands of teens audition for a spot on a reality TV show called Deprivation House, where they will live in a Mediterranean villa located in exclusive Beverly Hills and have a chance to win one million dollars.

Twelve teens are chosen, but things start to go wrong when one of the twelve contestants, the famous Ripley Lansing, receives a death threat. Her parents request the highest level of security for Ms. Lansing, and the police ask for the assistance of American Teens Against Crime (ATAC).

ATAC sends top their agents Frank and Joe Hardy, undercover as to brothers separated at birth, to find the person (or persons) who threatened to kill Ripley Lansing.[2]

Once at the "house" the contestants are told the rules of the show; each day at least one luxuries (computers, iPods, coffee, etc.) will be taken away and who ever lasts the longest wins. In addition competitions will be held each day, with the winner getting to chose the next "deprivation".

Things go bad fast, when in the very first contest (with the goal, to wash more dishes then anyone else), Frank finds a body in the bottom of the pool. The body turns out to be one of the production assistants, Leo, so he is replaced by a man named Mitch.

After a few of the contestants, including Joe, are threatened again, and Bobby T wins the first contest (the pool one was called off), Ripley finds Bobby unconscious in the hall, luckily Bobby had already told every one that he has a deadly peanut allergy, and if he has an reaction to use the needle he always carries, Ripley does this and saves his life. Frank and Joe wonder what could have caused Bobby's reaction, that is until they find a trace of peanut oil on his toothbrush.

Later Joe, James, and Bobby, are locked in the sauna, and if Frank had not got there in time they would have all died. This is followed by one of the contestants, Rosemary, dropping out of the show, and Joe being almost killed by a dog in the dog cleaning contest. It turns out that the dog was feed jimmsonweed, which made him aggressive.

Already worried, the Hardys are even more upset when everyone of the contestants receives an e-mail reading, "Next competition, someone dies."

The next day after the e-mails, the first cut is made, and a girl named Kit Elroy is "deprived of the chance to win one million dollars!" It seems that Kit, more than any one else had a hard time adjusting to the deprivations, most of all coffee, which she was a heavy drinker of.

Fearing that the last death threat, Frank and Joe feel the need to do a safety check on the next competition. They can not do this however unless they know what it is (no one is every told until a few minutes before), so after getting Veronica (she is the host of the show) out of the house a few hours by convincing a contestant to drop out of the competition and using the ATAC anticamera device they manage to get into Veronica's quarters without being seen. The brothers find what they are looking for as well as a good amount of money hidden in one of the ceiling beams.

It turns out that the next contest is a lawn mower race, so the brothers head to the field were it is to take place. After a search, Joe finds a bomb wired to the ignition of one of the mowers, but before they can do anything about it, Veronica and Mitch find them and Veronica accuses them of cheating, completely ignoring Frank and Joe when the try to tell her what they have found. She orders Mitch to keep the brothers to his quarters, until morning. Frank and Joe tall Mitch about the bomb, who unlike his boss listens and he promises to tell Veronica.

Mitch leaves the Hardy boys in his quarters with a soft drink each and the parting words, "To living through it, right?" quoting the words of the contestants on the first night on the show. After Mitch leaves Frank releases that they came up with that toast before Mitch worked on the show, and that he couldn't have seen footage of it, because they didn't have any outdoor footage that night. And it is dawn on both brothers that the only reason he would be there is if he knew Leo was going to die.

Frank and Joe try to leave the cottage but Mitch sees them and knocks them out. When they come to they find themselves tied up in Mitch's place, who claims he knocked them out because Veronica told him to keep them in his cabin and he didn't want to get in trouble. The Hardys manage to distract Mitch then they roll into a mirror knocking it over onto Mitch. With Mitch momentarily out of the way, Frank manages to cut himself free using the broken glass from the mirror. Once untied Joe knocks out and ties up Mitch and Frank races for the doomed garden tractor contest.

Joe discovers that Mitch robed a bank of 25,000, Joe remembers the money he found in Veronica's house and figures that Mitch must have hidden the stolen money in the house before the show was being run in it. Then when Mitch discovered it he must have killed Leo to get access but since Veronica doesn't even allow assistants into her office he most of tried to get the show shut down by killing contestants.

Meanwhile, Frank tried to get to the tractors before anyone else but didn't quite make it, and now is horrified to see one of the contestants, Brynn, getting on the very one with the bomb set to go off when the ignition key is turned. Frank yells at her to stop but she turns the key. In one last attempt, Frank hurls himself at her, knocking her off the mower – seconds before it explodes. Veronica lets Frank and Joe stay on the show because of what they did. Later that night James finds a dead blackbird in the bathtub, with the words, "It's not over yet" written in blood.

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Businesses and organizations


Cover art

The cover art of this book is of significance because it is the first time since 2002 that Frank and Joe have appeared on the cover,[4] and the first time since March 1997 that the Hardy boys will be portrayed by actors on the cover.[5]



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