For the revised edition of this book, see The Secret of the Old Mill (revised text).
This book was published on May 16, 1927. Ghostwritten by young Canadian writer Leslie McFarlane (under the pseudonym Franklin W. Dixon), this book was the product of the Stratewmeyer Syndicate and published by Grossett and Dunlap. Stratemeyer hired ghostwriters to write adventure stories for kids under pseudonyms. They usually did it for a flat fee. Then Stratemeyer leased the bookplates to publishing companies.
Stratemeyer usually released the first three books of a series at one time, and that was the case here. Called "breeder" books, this was done to create interest in the series and give kids an opportunity to buy all the books.
Applewood Books reissued this version in 1991; due to contract issues, this book was discontinued in 2011.
The dust jacket states that "Counterfeit money is in circulation, and the limit is reached when Mrs. Hardy takes some from a stranger. Then the Hardy boys and their high school chums are warned to stay away from the old mill. Their curiosity plunges them into peril of the most unexpected kind." However, Mrs. Hardy's acceptance of counterfeit money does not take place until near the end of the book. The events that cause the Hardy Boys to take the case are as follows:
- A stranger at the train station changes a five-dollar bill for some one-dollar bills which Frank and Joe give him. When Frank and Joe use the bill to buy some pie plates, they are told the five is a counterfeit.
- Frank's girlfriend Callie Shaw's cousin, Pollie, accepts a counterfeit fifty from a customer.
- While visiting an old mill, hostile scenes convince the Hardys that something is going on.
- Putting two and two together, they deduce that the counterfeit money and the mill may be connected.
A series of investigations ensues (which also includes the first appearance of the boys motorboat, the Sleuth. The Hardy Boys round up the counterfeiting gang, and the story comes to an end.
This book introduces the Hardys' motorboat, the Sleuth.
"Perhaps if you went down to the boathouse you might find something there," their father suggested casually.
The boys stared incredulously. Then they gave a simeltaneous whoop of delight.
"You don't mean to say the motorboat is here?" exclaimed Frank...
Fenton Hardy merely smiled... "It mightn't be a bad idea to go down to the boathouse anyway.
- Bayport, the Hardys' home city. All locations, such as the boathouse and the old mill, are set in Bayport.
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