Read Volume 1: The Mystery of Rafferty’s Farm!
Download book as formatted PDF | Read it online – starts below!
Join Francesca and Josephine Hardy as they set out to solve their first mystery!
Frank and Joe Hardy, former teen detectives, have been retired since their youthful sleuthing wiped out all crime in Bayport. But now a new generation of criminal is back – and it’s up the the Hardy Girls to crack the case, while avoiding parental scrutiny and staying one step ahead of bumbling police chief Oscar Smuff.
The Hardy Girls’ mystery series walks that fine line between fan fiction, social satire, and a rip-roaring kids’ chapter book.
Images by Naeomi Castellano
CHAPTER 1: Endangered!
“For sale? Since when?”
Twelve-year-old Josephine Hardy pulled her bike off the country highway on the west side of Bayport. Her sleek black ponytail fell across her shoulder as she turned to stare at the billboard in the middle of the untended farm field.
Her cousin Francesca, also twelve, rolled to a stop alongside a rusty wire fence that marked the boundary of the property. The field was overgrown with dry weeds. Here and there, a scrubby bush fought to take root. In the distance lay a low hill bounded by trees.
“Too bad,” said Francesca, brushing a strand of wavy blonde hair from her face. “Remember when they used to grow crops here? I wonder if another farmer will buy it.”
Suddenly, Francesca jumped. “Look out, Josephine!” Barreling up two-lane Highway 99 was a pickup truck with a big square contraption fastened on the back. The oversized load unbalanced the pickup, and it swerved wildly, kicking up dust along the roadside.
Francesca hit her pedal hard and skidded toward the wire fence. Josephine was right behind her. The girls squeezed against the fence. The truck careened around the curve and raced past the girls. “What an idiot!” Josephine yelled.
The truck sped up the road, then took a sharp turn onto a dirt road and started across the farm field. A cloud of dust rose as it raced down the road. “I wonder where he’s going in such a hurry,” Josephine said. “We should follow him!”
Francesca wasn’t sure it was such a great idea. But she knew that once her cousin set her mind to something, there was no turning back. Josephine was already pedaling down the highway. Francesca took a breath and followed, catching up at the turnoff.
The dirt road, with a weed-filled ditch on either side, was barely wide enough for one vehicle. Loose gravel was scattered around the turnoff. A battered “No Trespassing” sign was nailed to the fencepost.
“Come on,” Josephine called. “If the farm is for sale, people are allowed to check it out. That must be where that truck was going.”
The girls started up the dirt road on their bikes. Deep ruts made it hard to balance. Finally, Francesca got off and pushed her bike. “We should have left our bikes back by the road,” she said. “Maybe we should turn around.”
Before they could decide, a cloud of dust appeared ahead. The truck was coming back down the narrow road!