Monday, May 31, 2010

#4: The Mystery at Lilac Inn

This was one of the dull ones, but I remembered when I reread it, what a fairly b*tchy character it had. :)

Nancy Drew and Helen Corning are canoeing to Lilac Inn. Along the way, they stop by the riverside backyard of a mutual friend, Doris. Doris is startled. She claims that another friend of theirs told her she saw Nancy a few minutes ago at a drugstore. But that's the least of Nancy's worries when the canoe hits something and capsizes! But there is nothing around that could've caused the boat to flip! Right?

At Lilac Inn, the girls greet Emily Willoughby. Emily is going to marry Dick Farnam and they will take over the inn. Because taking on a small business right after marriage is a great idea! Dick's best man, John, gives Nancy and Helen a tour of the inn. When girls go to the to meet Emily's Aunt Hazel, they overhear her arguing "I can't loan you more money, Maud!"

Maud is the know-it-all social director, who controls Aunt Hazel as if Aunt Hazel was dog. When the Drew house is burglarized (one in many burglaries over the course of the series), Aunt Hazel drives Nancy home and Maud invites herself along. She asks Nancy about Mr. Drew. "I'd love to meet your father. I understand he is a widower." Giggle. Nancy replies that Carson is busy with his job. "I see. No time for a social life," [Maud] said sarcastically. Oh, burn, Nancy!

Nancy's charge plate from Burk's Department Store has been stolen, and she is accused of stealing thousands of dollars of goods there, (turns out, by her double). Luckily, she has vouches for her good name--because she's Nancy Drew, perfect and flawless in every way! Chief McGinnis is always a convenient backup.

For her twenty-first birthday, Emily is inheriting her deceased mother's twenty unset diamonds. Emily tells everyone around her when she'll get them, and that they will have a dinner where Emily will receive the gems. Wise move, Emily.

Bang! As she stares at the sparkly diamonds, the lights go out, and when they come back on, the jewels are gone! Then Nancy finds out there is a sliding panel in one wall and that is how the thief slipped between rooms unnoticed. How original.

Well, a few days later, they find the diamonds and the case on the grounds. But when they are appraised at a jewelry store, it turns out that they are...get ready for it...fakes! Gee, didn't see that coming.

Nancy goes out skin diving in the river (she was going to meet John there, but he doesn't show up) and sees....a shark? But there is no time to think about that. Suddenly a spear almost hits her, landing in the lens of the camera she took with her. When she returns to the inn, John asks her why she didn't come to their meeting place to go to the skin-diving dock together some time ago. John had met another Nancy, who had made this arrangement.

After ghosts, bombs in cottages, and rocks thrown at Nancy's convertible, everyone's pretty edgy. Now they also have a shy, nervous little waitress now. The waitress' name is Jean, and she warns Nancy about Maud. Unfortunately Maud quits after a fight with Helen, before Nancy can question her. It turns out, however, that Maud was just being mean to Nancy because she was jealous, and Maud took her sadness from her husband's death out on Hazel. Aww.

One day, Nancy goes to the river to start solving the mystery regarding the shark and spear. After getting some excellent (and much-too-convenient) leads, Nancy finds Jean near the river! Nancy follows and Jean goes into an old shed. Before Nancy can decide what to do, a miniature sub rises from the river--Nancy's "shark"!

Then all the formulaic stuff happens. Nancy is caught from behind! A cloth is tied over her mouth! She is dragged to the shed! Jean is there, along with another man, the gardener at the inn. The man who caught her, the gardener, and Jean discuss what to do with Nancy, and drag her to the sub! Horrors!

Jean is really actress Gay Moreau. She has been playing as Jean (and Nancy...and an imaginary person, Mary, but it would make this post too long to try to add that part of the plot here) in order to get the jewels. She's also vengeful against Mr. Drew, because he once prosecuted her in a check forgery case.

There is no indication of the real reason for the sub, or for taking Nancy into it it (wouldn't the usual shed tie-up have worked as well?), except as a plot device. Another plot device happens; as "Jean" snidely tells Nancy all about how she and her accomplices worked together to get the diamonds. Their theory is that explaining the plot will torture Nancy, as Nancy now has no power to bring Jean and crew to justice. (But Jean doesn't know she's in a Nancy Drew book! ;)

Then the sub hits a log and a fire starts in the engine!"Jean" and the men flee, leaving Nancy bound. In a very deus ex machina moment (I use this phrase sooo much in these posts), River Heights police in boats come just in time to get Nancy out. Carson was getting worried about Nancy's absence.

When Gay and her accomplices are captured, Gay is wearing her Nancy Drew disguise AND has Nancy's license, causing people to doubt the real Nancy. She almost fools Carson until he gets up close to her (I guess Nancy's and Gay's voices and mannerisms are so similar that they even trick a father!). To prove herself to the police, Nancy grabs Gay and wipes off part of her makeup. All the bad guys/girls arrested and the world is at peace. The diamonds are found in the river (they were in the sub) and the world is at peace.
I never did like this one, but I admit, it is one of the few of the rewritten originals that gets so close to actually having a murder/death. I know this probably isn't one of my better posts, but this was such a choppy plot.
Extra Fun Tidbits, Non-Essential to the Story:
  • A meal served at Lilac Inn: Beef broth, creamed chicken on toast, peas, salad and iced tea. Um...yum? Sounds nice and light. But the beef broth alone sounds odd, and the the name "creamed chicken" just hints of a strange consistency. But it turns out to be this in most recipes online.
  • A great quote from Nancy: "I have a feeling the thief substituted these fakes for the real diamonds." Well, duuuur.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

#29: Mystery at the Ski Jump

 Nancy is out walking on a snowy day when a car suddenly crashes into a nearby house. The driver, Mrs. Channing (to be called Mrs. C forthwith), is cared for by Mrs. Martin, the neighbor whose house she drove into (lol).

When Nancy gets home, Hannah Gruen shows her a mink stole and says she bought stocks in Forest Fur Co. Our buddy, contrivance, stops by--Mrs. C sold Hannah the stole!

The same day, Mrs. Martin goes to the Drews--Mrs. C slipped out without paying for the damages (nice!) and Mrs. Martin has some suspicions about the whole Forest Fur dealy-o.

Mr. Drew and Nancy were to going to go to Montreal together so she could help Mr. Drew on one of his cases, but she decides to stay behind for a few days to work on the fur mystery. The next sighting of Mrs. C is her car. Nancy, Bess and George start a chase, but a few minutes later, Nancy is pulled over! Nancy explains that she was chasing a possible criminal, but the excuse doesn't fly. To top it off, Nancy's license is gone! George immediately speaks up. "Officer, this is Nancy Drew!" The officer merely replies "then there are two reasons for taking you [Nancy] to headquarters." OMG. Burn!

Of course, Chief McGinnis is lenient with Nancy, his reason being that he knows Nancy has a license, and she's been soo frickin' helpful to the police.

While Nancy waits for her new license to arrive, Bess drives her to visit Mrs. Packer, an elderly woman Nancy suspects was duped by Mrs. C. Mrs. Packer also asks Nancy to find a pair of earrings that disappeared around the time Mrs. C visited.

The Girl Gang tries to trace Mrs. C through various towns. In Masonville, two plainclothes men nab Nancy, and accuse her of stealing from a fur shop. While Nancy's at headquarters, Bess finds Judge Hart, a friend of the Drews and a prominent figure in the area. He saves Nancy by suggesting they visit the fur store owner, who right away affirms that the thief isn't Nancy. Well, THAT was easy.

Nancy discovers that the fur one woman bought was stolen. When she goes to investigate at its parent store and gives her name as she explains her mission, she is stuffed in a closet by the proprietors. They were told that 'Nancy Drew' was coming to steal more furs. George and Bess save her. Mrs. C was the one who "tipped" the couple off.

Detective work continues, and Nancy visits her Aunt Eloise in NYC so she can also look for clues. [Side-note: there is also a Mr. C]. Nancy's work eventually leads her to a seedy motel, where Mrs. C. could be residing. She only meets swanky, flirty movie star, "Bunny Reynolds" (gag). 'Mr. Sidney Boyd' sold diamond earrings and worthless stock in Forest Fur to her! And she thought she was special because she had to flirt to get Mr. Boyd to sell the stock. When she opens the earring box to show Nancy, they find that it is empty. Mr. Boyd must have stolen them after selling them. By the description they are Mrs. Packer's earrings! But Bunny will get help from the police. She has a "special friend" on the force! ;)

Nancy and Eloise see Mrs. C in a TV movie about ice skating. The actress' name is Mitzi Adele. Nancy goes home to think. Bess and George are waiting, along with a cornball, white-haired woodsman, John Horn, who dislikes cars and throws out phrases like "all we chinned about was mink" (that is, talked about while buying stock from Mrs. C).

Nancy goes to Montreal to look through random mink farms that just might be connected with Forest Fur. She also helps her dad's client, sexy, blonde ski instructor Chuck Wilson. Chuck gives Nancy some complimentary lessons. Before she even puts on a ski, Nancy finds clues that the Channings could be at the lodge.

Chuck invites her to a skating show. He's a skier AND a skater! Both Nancy and Carson go, for they believe Mrs. C., might turn up, as she skated in the movies.While they wait for the show to start, it is announced that 'Nancy Drew' will be in the show along with an anonymous partner! Nancy goes to "her" dressing room to investigate this suspicious announcement (pretending she is the actual Nancy to get by).

Chuck and Nancy decide to save the show by going into the slot together. Nancy is immediately perfect at skating at the last minute!

Nancy takes a call meant for "Fake Nancy" at the hotel, and she discovers that a Mrs. Bellhouse is about to be duped. Nancy finds Mrs. Bellhouse at a retirement home. Nancy and the girls find out from Mrs. B that she's going to give thousands to buy stock from her cousin, Sidney Boyd. The girls leave to spy on the procedure. They get the police to arrest Mr. Boyd.

Nancy and the gang--including Ned, Burt and Dave--decide to take a break at Aunt Eloise's Adirondacks home to follow a clue that Aunt Eloise herself provided. There is a ski jump near the cabin. Conveniently, Chuck Wilson is there (causing a little tension with Ned), as a ski instructor.

Ned and Nancy visit a mink farm which, predictably, has had furs stolen. On their investigation, they get lost and are rescued by John Horn.

As Nancy looks out the window one night, she sees a weird light at the ski jump and goes to investigate. Alone. She is overtaken by rough men, bound, locked into a cabin in the woods, and left to die. When she is missed, the police, the gang and John Horn strike out to find her. John Horn knows all about the cabin; not many people do, it is secluded, and a perfect place to hid captives! Genius, John. They find Nancy, exhausted from cold, but of course she's up and at it in what seems like minutes.

Nancy's kidnappers are arrested. Nancy's reward is a diamond pin from Mrs. Packer, and from Chuck, enough fur to make a stole. (Chuck won his case, a lost inheritance). Maybe Nancy will wear the earrings while solving The Clue of the Velvet Mask.

  • "I told her how many cases you had solved The Clue of the Black Keys and The Secret of the Wooden Lady." Mrs. Martin told Mrs. C while talking about Nancy's "cases". So the mysteries actually have their own names in Nancy's world? *giggle*.
  • When Nancy is falsely arrested for stealing furs from a shop, this is the dialog at the police station: "Any relation to the lawyer in River Heights?" [the sergeant] asked. "He's my father!" said Nancy. "Good grief! You never know where these juvenile delinquents will come from." YAY! Someone who doesn't just dismiss Nancy because of her perfect father.
  • Nancy is learning to ski-jump when she must jump over a careless skier. She crashes and is knocked out for a few minutes. The only time Nancy couldn't do something, it wasn't her fault (and Chuck even assures her of that).
I wanted to have this up the week after the last week of the Winter Olympics, to celebrate a great time, but library requests get wacky long to be processed sometimes. This is one of the best Perfect Nancy books. And that cover (from Series Books for Girls)? It looks like Nancy is shaking her fits angrily at the ski jump, and an arthritic hand is superimposed over her.

There won't be any posts for about a month. Our library is moving into a new building and there's been a lot of trouble. Someone's been taking from the funds that are supposed to be for new books, and the final finishes on the new building aren't as quality as they should be. Could they be connected?...I kid, I kid. But, just so y'all know, it'll be a while.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

#26: The Clue of the Leaning Chimney

For fun, I have included the Danish cover for Leaning Chimney, courtesy Series books for Girls.

It was a dark and stormy night...

Nancy is driving with Bess on a shortcut on a lonely road when she almost runs over a man; Nancy goes to help. To her amazement, threatens her. Nancy stays and tries to give him a package the man dropped. She is threatened again but doesn't move until Bess practically drags her back into the car. Nancy did see what was in the package, which fell open: a vase with a dragon pattern. Bess says it sounds A LOT like a vase in her cousin Dick Milton's pottery shop! Bess calls Dick the next day to tell him to check it out. The vase is gone! And dang, the vase was lent to Dick by his friend Mr. Soong, an older Chinese man.

Dick wants to find a legendary pit of super-special clay used to make china. He overheard this in a random conversation; this valuable clay could be found near a "leaning chimney".

Nancy goes into Masonville, where Dick heard about the leaning chimney--and finds a crooked chimney. The homeowner lets Nancy explore the attic, and Nancy sees a man exiting the attic through a secret panel. The man gets away, but the police investigate the attic. Behind the panel are priceless vases!

Nancy and George look for clues by the lonely road again, but run into suspicious men. This time, Nancy gets away but a George is tied up and the two men disappear.
The men dropped a porcelain bowl. Wow, another extraordinarily convenient clue! 

 Oh...and Mr. Soong wants Nancy to find his missing friend, Eng Moy, and Eng Moy's daughter, Lei. They came to the USA so Eng Moy could study new pottery methods...and haven't been seen for five years.

A fake-pottery market suddenly springs up, and just in time Nancy finds the real leaning chimney on an old mine and smelter. On some days, the chimney has a weird iron symbol on it. There is a high, impossible-to-enter fence around the building, and a woman who claims she's from an exclusive cult, threatens Nancy and George as they try to get in. The usual antics happen--Nancy is nearly trapped, she is is rescued by George, then Mr. Soong goes with them to explore the weird grounds.

They discover that the place is the site of a forgery operation-- Chinese people forced to work, making genuine-looking, fake antique pottery! And among them? Eng Moy and Lei!

Nancy and Mr. Soong hide until they can safely go to Eng Moy and Lei. Lei is despairing about her horrible life. All her and her father's attempts to escape failed. She actually says that their only way to escape is to "end it all!". This rather grim allusion is unusual in the original Nancy Drew books.

Mr. Soong and Nancy come out, and try to disguise themselves as workers so they can plan an escape. No dice--but our old friend Deus Ex Machina comes along. Nancy manages to escape (climbing over the fence of the complex with a ladder they brought, used, and left on the fence), runs out to the road, and stops a State Trooper vehicle which just happens to be stopping by.

In the end, the workers (who were lured to the illegal pottery operation with promises of a better life) are free. The man who had escaped through the panel in the old house, and was also the same one who ran across the road with the vase in the beginning AND rented the attic is captured. This Mr. Carr was responsible for most of the operation, and had a clever (for a mass-market juvenile book series) plan for stealing antique ceramics to copy, and resell the copies as antiques. A brother was in "cahoots" with him.

I've read almost half the Nancy Drew's, and this is one of the most ridiculous!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

#54: The Strange Message in the Parchment (LONG)

~Cover image courtesy Nancy Drew Sleuth~

Nancy and a former classmate (conveniently drifting by, never to be seen again) whom she hasn't seen since high school, are standing in front of a mirror. Both are admiring a sheepskin jacket, that "Junie Flockhart" is wearing. Junie talks about the her father's slaughterhouse\ sheepskin\ parchment business, more or less hinting at a mystery. Her father recently bought a parchment with intriguing pictures painted with some intriguing. Soon after, a stranger called him, telling him that a message was on the parchment. If it was decoded, someone could "right a great wrong."

Junie and Nancy arrive at Triple Lake Farm. Bess and George as well--as Ned, Burt and Dave (of course)--tag along. Junies's BF, Dan, will also join the happy flock (pun intended) soon. Nancy's first stop is to see the parchment. It shows four pictures: a sad woman, a man with his back turned, a baby boy, and a sailboat colliding with a steamer. Okay...I had that part of the story figured out in two minutes. Anyway, Nancy and Junie visit the farm and operations, incl. the parchment factory and slaughterhouse (cheerful). They go to visit a shepherd that Junie is friends with, but find him knocked out on hill where he tends sheep. When "Eezy" is revived, he clams up about the incident, fearing the girls might get hurt. Eventually he says merely that two guys tried to get him to agree to something he felt was wrong. Eezy is a one of the rarely unique characters in the late books. He applies Bible quotes to various events and makes some fairly funny jokes.

Nancy continues to study the parchment. She even takes it out of the frame, and on the back are a few initials. Furious thinking begins! Nancy and Junie go to question the parchment's former owner, Mr. Rocco, Mr. Flockhart's best customer and neighbor. Nancy already met him once; he was very rude (read: automatic criminal)! The girls go to the gate of his house, which crests his vegetable farm. They know he's home, but there is no answer over the intercom. Nancy spazzes over how totally rude that is, then
she and Junie climbs over the fence! Her reason being: because he is so rude and they need to see him for such an important reason, trespassing is ok. Double standards, Nan? Wrong is wrong. Crud for them, they are apprehended by two tough-looking men who "scold" them for trespassing. Nancy and Junie act offended. They had a right to trespass!

Nancy and Junie eventually get an appointment with Mr. Rocco to get some 'information'. Mr. Rocco is rude and (rightfully) mad about the trespassing. Nancy is "fakely" sorry so that she can get what she wants. They don't find out much, but do make Mr. Rocco suspicious. Good going, Nan.

Nan and Junie sneak around Rocco's farm to interview his workers, but the workers only speak Italian. They think a young boy, who draws beautiful pictures, might speak English, but he doesn't.

When this boy, 'Tony' (his name is conveniently on his sweater) sees Mr. Rocco in the distance, he gets back to hoeing frantically. Later, Nancy thinks 'Tony' might be the baby depicted on the parchment. Her reasoning?
A is written on the back of the baby's picture and Tony is usually short for Anthony. It couldn't be Albery of Adam or whatever, now could it, or the mystery wouldn't go anywhere. :-p

Junie's boyfriend, Dan can talks to Tony, as he takes Italian in college. Tony says that Mr. Rocco is his is his uncle, but makes him work all the time.

Yawn. So various crazy things which I consider fillers happen. Nothing really important until the parchment is stolen! Nancy tries to keep the parchment from being stolen, but the parchment is dropped, the frame glass breaks, and the thief snatches the whole mess and runs. Nancy and Junie go out the next day to visit various shops to find out if someone bought glass that fits the frame. Yes, someone did! Then they inquire at a drug store see if a man bought bandages (because the thief probably cut his hands on the glass). Hole-in-one again! How lucky is Nancy, who just happens to stroll in the exact store where the bandages were purchased from!

The thief is caught! She speaks kindly to him in his cell, preaching on the wrongs of stealing. He says he's a hit man for other hit men for Mr. Rocco, but now realizes he was wrong, and thinks being in jail might be good for him. Nancy is really pleased with herself, and Junie praises her.

Fearing Tony might be in danger from Mr. Rocco, Nancy hides him with the shepherd, Eezy. To stave off claims of a crime, aka kidnapping, Tony writes a letter to Mr. Rocco, assuring him that he's fine (and he is happy), but he'll go to the police if his uncle doesn't shape up.

Then they find out that "Diana Bolardo" is coming from Italy, claiming she's Tony's mother. An Italian artist who saw the initials on the parchment,
DB, said that he knew of three people with the initials DB in Rome and that that could be a lead (never mind the parchment was marked 'Milano, not Rome). This is so far-fetched I have to gag! }8-o Surprise! Diana B. looks like Tony!

Mrs. B tells of an estate left by her husband, killed in a sailing accident (sur-f*cking-prise!). Her husband's executor, his brother--Mr. Rocco!--wanted her to marry him, but she wouldn't. So Mr. Rocco stole his nephew and went to America in revenge.

Nancy and takes Mrs. B to see her son. They find Tony and Eezy bound & gagged on the hill, and then
they are tied up. After the hit men leave, Nan wiggles over and frees Eezy with the ends of her fingers, and they free the others.

So, the whole gang ends up at the Rocco house. The police have caught Rocco, who is eventually found guilty of the accusations. Then! A mob of workers marches on the Rocco house to make
their accusations--he gave them a fake worker's union that does nothing but lose them money--and Mr. Rocco has to go to jail. The workers get their money back, Tony and his "new" mom go to Italy; everything is happy in Nancyworld! Nancy absorbs more praise. The end. Time to go south and solve The Mystery of Crocodile Island.

Crazy Quotes:
  • "Mr Drew said to Junie with boyish pride, 'I have a few sheepskins of my own...I'll show them to you.'" In Mr. Drew's study are some diplomas from high school, college and law school. Junie praises him for graduating with honors from all three. Now tell me he wasn't just showing the diplomas because of the parchments. xD
That's all! Sorry it isn't more concise, I'm terrible at making short, snarky blogs.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

#36: The Secret of the Golden Pavillion

(Cover from Series Books for Girls)

Nancy Drew is randomly flying in a helicopter above her house (it seems this happens a lot), and a burglar is climbing into the third story! (Since when do the Drews have a third story? Unless they mean the attic?)...

So Nancy has the pilot radio the tower, which then alerts her dad. A briefcase containing papers on one of Mr. Drew's new cases was taken from their house! Gaugh. If I lived next to the Drews, I'd move!!! They must get robbed every freaking week!

So the newest case is about a Hawaiian/Japanese man, Mr. Sakamaki. He's just inherited a beautiful estate in Hawaii, but two claimants have shown up. Suspicious, my dear Watson! Sakamaki also notices a mysterious 'ghost' who dances in--yes--a golden pavilion on the property. He wants Nancy to help solve the mystery, and says she can go to Hawaii with friends (and they're fresh from solving The Haunted Showboat!). Nan is worried about the expense, and 'Mr. Saka' says he'll finance it. Mr. Drew says he'll agree to that on one condition--Mr. Saka's generous offer will be his lawyer fee. Come on. I'm sure Carson would rather have his daughter go off traipsing in Hawaii, than to have money to invest or spend or whatevs.*insert sarcasm*

Nan and the gang stay at the home of Mr. Saka's friends, the Armstrongs. They do the typical Hawaiian things, surfing, swimming, wearing leis, eating tropical fruit, and watching and eating pig roasted on a spit :p . Nancy learns to hula, and is almost instantly perfect at it, of course. Yawn.

The ghost appears, there is a chase, blah, blah, blah. Meanwhile, Nancy and the gang are being chased by the sneaky members of the 'Double Scorps', a frightening gang. One of its members even knocked out Mr. Drew in his office!!

They visit craters, volcanos, etc. George nearly falls off a cliff and takes Nan with her, but the boys save them.

Well, after a series of random, disconcerting adventures involving the Double Scorps, they're arrested. Turns out the ghost was just a dancer who knew a secret entrance beneath the pavilion and went back and forth among the estate. Duh. And there was supposed to be an treasure on the estate! Surprise. Not. The Double Scorps somehow found out about it, made up an elaborate plan, and somehow they found out Mr. Saka had hired Carson....and then they found Nancy was on the case too, and so on.

Really, how do these people randomly find out about opportunities to swindle?
  • This book was originally published 1959, when Hawaii was made a state. It was republished 1985, but NOT rewritten. Hannah Gruen frets about volcanoes exploding all the time, and how primitive Hawaii will be, and Nancy says "'s time you learned about our new state of Hawaii" :p
  • Despite the emphasis in the above quote that Hawaii is just part of America now, it is constantly written like some freaky foreign country...