There's something about secret tunnels.
I was weaned on the Hardy Boys mysteries. I believe that my parents had somewhat loftier hopes for my reading. But when I showed a dim enthusiasm for the grander works of literature, they were happy to simply have me read, so they introduced me to the Hardy Boys, of which my dad still had a few copies left over from his boyhood.
I enjoyed the stories (and was a little in love with Joe Hardy's girlfriend). But what I remember best were the book's covers.
They were classic over-the-top scenes of drama, like the dime novel pulp covers from the '40s and '50s but without the sexy women in lingerie. This was far beyond simply judging a book by its cover. I have to assume that uncountable boys like me bought the books for their covers.
One cover theme that was featured on many of the books in the series was the secret passage, the secret door, the secret panel... all of which invariably led, by my boyhood calculation, to a secret tunnel.
Now, I live in an area with real tunnels! We have the Cave Rock tunnels, many old mining tunnels, railroad tunnels, natural underwater tunnels through which you can dive, old flume tunnels. We also have the 600-foot tunnel at the Thunderbird Lodge on the East Shore, built by the eccentric, super-rich George Whittell.
George's secret tunnel allowed him (and his lion named Bill) to travel unseen from his mansion to the boathouse of his Thunderbird boat, the beautiful old woodie that still goes half the speed of light and looks even faster. We also have the Cal Neva Lodge in Crystal Bay where owner Frank Sinatra had tunnels built to allow him, Dean Martin, Marilyn Monroe, and other pals to escape their fans and paparazzi while they moved about the Tahoe property. There are rumors, too, that a few other Tahoe mansions, old and new, have tunnels.
You can even take tours of many of these tunnels, secret and not-so-secret.
Whether a tunnel bores through Tahoe granite or simply tantalizes from the cover of a book, there's something about secret passages. And tunnels, hidden from the world, are the epitome of secret.
Perfect subjects for a mystery writer.
Maybe Owen and Spot will one day encounter a secret tunnel.