desperate criminal

Rick Brant

Rick Brant is a children's literature series of novels published in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s by Grosset & Dunlap, publishers of other series such as The Hardy Boys and Tom Swift, Jr. It was never as popular as those series, and ended with most other juvenile series in the late 1960s.

The books were billed as being written by John Blaine, a pseudonym for Peter J. Harkins and Harold L. Goodwin. Peter Harkins and Hal Goodwin wrote the first three books, Hal Goodwin wrote the rest. Starting in the 1980s Grosset & Dunlap began transferring the copyrights to Hal Goodwin. The rights are now held by the John Blaine/Rick Brant Trust. The Goodwin family has been working to bring the works back in print, starting with the rarer final 4 books.

While Rick Brant had a scientific tone (being bylined as "Electronic Adventures" or "Science-Adventure Stories" and finally "SCIENCE Adventures"), it was realistic science, unlike the fantastic science of Tom Swift, Jr. Hal Goodwin, a popular science writer, had a very strong technical background, which served him well in the Rick Brant stories. This more realistic approach may have hurt the series sales by making it less fantastic.

Goodwin was also a more accomplished stylist than many in the juvenile adventure-series field. The books are genuinely suspenseful, well-plotted, atmospheric, and enriched by humor and acute characterization. Exotic locales--tropical islands, Philippine jungles, the Himalayas--were given vivid and well-researched depictions, as were a variety of specialized hobbies and professions, such as deep-sea diving, infrared photography, home rocketry, and the inevitable espionage work. Like the Ken Holt mystery series, the tales appealed to a slightly older readership than did the typical Grosset & Dunlap title. (Ken Holt had a crossover cameo in The Flying Stingaree, and Rick lent some of his gadgets to Ken in one of the books in that series, by agreement of the respective authors.)

The stories focused on teenaged Rick Brant and his ex-Marine pal, Scotty. They live on Spindrift Island off the coast of New Jersey, where Rick's father, Hartson Brant, heads a group of scientists working in the field of electronics, later expanding to a wider range of scientific endeavors. In this way, Rick and Scotty are able to be involved in various adventures in the US and abroad, solving many baffling mysteries. Series second-banana regulars include a resourceful youth from India named Chahda; Steve Ames, agent of a government spy group called JANIG; Rick's pert younger sister Barbara; and proto-girlfriend Janice Miller.

The publishers were averse to any suggestion of the supernatural in the series. An ambiguous coda to "The Blue Ghost Mystery" was dropped, and an entire book ("The Magic Talisman") was rejected due to its inclusion of ESP elements. This lost tale was eventually published in an independent edition in 1990.

Rick Brant never graduated to any other medium of entertainment, although there are notable similarities to be found in the Jonny Quest cartoon series.


1 The Rocket's Shadow 1947
Rick meets Scotty and investigates sabotage occurring on his father's rocket experiment.

2 The Lost City 1947

Rick and Scotty journey to the Himalayas to set up a relay station to bounce a radar signal off the moon. (Chadha character introduced.)

3 Sea Gold 1947

Rick and Scotty take a job at a coastal sea mining facility and investigate possible sabotage.

4 100 Fathoms Under 1947

Rick and Scotty travel to the South Pacific in search of an ancient archaealogical artifact.

5 The Whispering Box Mystery 1948

Rick and Scotty race against time to stop a ring of spies from using a paralyzing weapon to steal government secrets. (JANIG and Steve Ames character introduced.)

6 The Phantom Shark 1949

Rick and Scotty cross paths with a nefarious pearl thief in the South Pacific.

7 Smugglers' Reef 1950

Rick and Scotty use an infrared camera to gather evidence against smugglers.

8 ''The Caves of Fear 1951

Rick and Scotty once more travel to the Himalayas, this time to stop nuclear materials from falling into the wrong hands.

9 Stairway to Danger 1952

Rick and Scotty battle a hardened and desperate criminal in an abandoned amusement park.

10 The Golden Skull 1954

Rick and Scotty search for a sacred relic in The Philippines.

11 The Wailing Octopus 1956

On a skindiving vacation, Rick and Scotty stumble across deadly spies.

12 The Electronic Mind Reader 1957

Rick and Scotty are shocked as one scientist after another falls victim to a diabolical machine. (Janice Miller character introduced.)

13 The Scarlet Lake Mystery 1958

Rick and Scotty visit a rocket base in Nevada, and encounter sabotage and a life or death situation for Rick.

14 The Pirates of Shan 1958

Rick and Scotty search for fellow scientists kidnapped by a vicious gang of pirates in the South Seas.

15 The Blue Ghost Mystery 1960

Rick and Scotty's Virginia vacation turns into an encounter with what seems to be a Civil War ghost.

16 The Egyptian Cat Mystery 1961

Rick and Scotty travel to Egypt and discover an apparently unassuming cat figurine which holds a secret.

17 The Flaming Mountain 1962

Rick and Scotty aid a scientific mission to save an island from an active volcano.

18 The Flying Stingaree 1963

Intrigued by mysterious UFO sightings, Rick and Scotty battle against a group of crafty spies.

19 The Ruby Ray Mystery 1964

Rick and Scotty are forced to walk the line between East and West only to have their allegiance questioned and their lives placed in jeopardy.

20 The Veiled Raiders 1965

A trip to the Sahara turns into an ordeal for Rick and Scotty as they run from slave traders.

21 Rocket Jumper 1966

Rick and Scotty use a rocket pack to save their loved ones from a fearsome plot.

22 The Deadly Dutchman 1967

Rick and Scotty's tour of Europe is interrupted by a fiendish gem trader.

23 Danger Below! 1968

Rick and Scotty investigate the reasons behind the sinking of an oil rig off Spindrift.

24 The Magic Talisman 1990

Rick and Scotty investigate mysterious goings-on in a house used for a dinner theater magic show. (Unpublished by Grosset & Dunlap, this title was published by Manuscript Press in a limited edition of 500 copies. The possibility of a reprint has been under discussion for several years.)

  • Rick Brant's Science Projects 1960

Rick and Scotty explain the secrets behind many of the inventions, codes, and logic they have used in their adventures.

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