Friday, December 5, 2008

#18: The Mystery at the Moss-Covered Mansion

Like a lot of the Nancy Drew books, this tends to wander, but was enjoyable. As a bonus, it is set in my childhood state, Florida. It also centers around the Kennedy Space Center, plotwise. My mom and dad took me and my siblings there. I was seven, it was friggin hot, I was tired, and I didn't give a damn about the rockets. I'm sure I would've enjoyed it in cooler weather.

Anyway, Nancy is helping her father with a legal case (again). Carson doesn't have a Florida license, so he's working with another lawyer in Florida. Their client was falsely accused of sending exploding oranges (!) to the space center. (Let's hope our enemies abroad never read this book--or this post! They just might send the White House a gift of fruit ;).

Nancy goes to Florida and stays at the client's house. The client's foreman and his (the foreman's) wife were supposed to pick up the Drews, but they make a "mistake" and the Drews had to take the taxi to the house. Carson Drew believes the incident is deliberate, because anything disruptive is suspicious.

Par for the script, Bess and George come to Florida, too, as well as Ned, Burt and Dave. (Do the boys ever have time for college?). Well, here's your convenient plot device: the Nickersons (Ned's family) are having a party at their summer home in Florida. I'd have a tag for 'convenient plot device', except that every book has one.

The mystery starts, and soon we have a house where suspicious things happen, a plot to blow up a space launch, and devious plots to harm Nancy (and, inadvertently, Ned). That's a bit crazy, huh?
I don't think I need to mention that it all comes right in the end...but I already did.

  • Nancy and crew get lost in an orange grove but get out by knowing that the roughest side of the tree is north. I've tried this before. I guess it only works when you're freaking out.
  • Bess stops at the edge of a swamp to pick a water lily and almost gets bitten by a gator. Somehow, I found this really funny.
  • The orange packing house catches on fire. Nancy asks what she can do to help, and one worker is all "you're a GIRL! WTF? You can't do anything." This was rewritten in '69 -'71, but I'd love to get the 1941 original to see if the original scene if it is similar (or there at all)*
  • While investigating a house that Mr. Drew might buy (being a Midwest lawyer must pay well!), the gang discovers that it is next to a weird house guarded by wild animals. Of course, they have to investigate, but they also have to get past the guard panther (!), so they drug it by hiding a pill meant for humans in a piece of meat. The huge panther takes the little sleeping pill, drops off in minutes. Uh-huh. But it is Bess' idea, so I have to cheer.
Overall, I'd give it a 5 out of 10...nothing special, but still fun.

*ETA: Thanks to Jennifer, @ the Series Books for Girls Blog, we have a great explanation of the role of sexism and feminism in the original books vs. the condensed\rewritten.