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review 2018-09-07 11:42
Nancy Drew, Girl Detective #1: The Demon of River Heights by Sho Murase and Stefan Petrucha
Nancy Drew #1: The Demon of River Heights (Nancy Drew Graphic Novels: Girl Detective) - Sho Murase,Stefan Petrucha

 

My library had a bunch of Nancy Drew graphic novels and since I had already planned on reading a ND mystery for this square I decided to make it easier on myself and read the GN. 

 

I wished I had just read one of Carolyn Keene's originals instead.

 

The artwork was okay, although at times it was too dark to make out the characters or scenery. The storyline was less Nancy Drew (from what I remember reading ND in my younger years) and more Scooby-Doo gang. Also Nancy in this is a complete scatterbrain - how could she be a better detective than the police chief when she couldn't remember to put gas in her car SEVERAL times? None of the female characters come across with any good traits (George is an oversexed bimbo, Bess is nosy bitch, and Nancy's nemesis is a gold digging slut - OF COURSE). 

 

A crappy attempt at updating Nancy Drew for a new generation. 

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review 2018-07-23 06:25
The (Original) Secret of the Old Clock, Nancy Drew #1
The Secret of the Old Clock - Russell H. Tandy,Sara Paretsky,Carolyn Keene

A little over a year ago I read 'Secret of the Old Clock' and mentioned being intrigued, but not necessarily interested in reading the original versions of the classic juvenile detective novels. Of course, in a year's time I've become convinced I need to not only read the old volumes, but to collect them, too.

The Stratemeyer Syndicate under Harriet Adams, the daughter of the man who invented the ghostwritten series and 'Nan' Drew, began revising the series from 1959 to 1976. They were intended to address issues of racism and xenophobia as well as the problem, apparently, of Nancy Drew being an entirely too willful girl. Changes needed to be made if the series was to survive, I wholeheartedly agree, but much of the descriptive language was cut out and plots were simplified, when not altogether altered.

'The Secret of the Old Clock' lost many pages, but not the plot. Nancy Drew is the courageous girl out to solve crimes and right wrong, daughter of Carson Drew and all-around capable woman. In the revised edition she rescues a little tyke who runs in front of a speeding vehicle and befriends two poor, elderly women who are taking care of the girl after her parents died in a boat explosion. They express their disappointment in being left out of the will of a wealthy relative.

In the original there is no boat explosion. No little tyke, either. Nancy learns of the speculated missing will from her father over breakfast, and an encounter with two snobby social climbers who are the daughters of the man who will inherit without the will. The family is obviously new money and their behavior makes Nancy dig in her heels and make sure somebody, anybody else gets the money instead of them.

Other characters stay the same, but Nancy's relationship with them is altered. An odd change is that a pair of young sisters - genteelly poor and kind in contrast to the snobs - have their dream changed from getting seed money to start them in tailoring and farming respectively in the original, to getting damn singing lessons in the revision is baffling. What is wrong with working for a living?

This original book is far superior in every respect, until Nancy accepts an invitation from her friend Helen Corning (No Bess and George, yet) to a camp getaway, but sneaks away to sleuth and gets into trouble. Its not getting into trouble that's the matter. Nancy interrupts a robbery at a lake house and is locked away by the crooks. She is found later by the black caretaker who has an "alcoholic glitter" in his eyes, Prohibition was still in effect in 1930. The caretaker had been given alcohol by the crooks and then locked in a shed to be kept out of the way. There's some unfortunate dialogue and Nancy delivers a lecture and...let's not go into it.

To solve her case Nancy hides evidence from the police, avoids gunfire, and in the end enjoys seeing the downfall of the social climbers as much as helping out the poor friends and relations who desperately needed the money from will. This Nancy is flawed, but I like her a lot.

Next: 'The Hidden Staircase'

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review 2018-07-17 01:31
The Clue in the Old Album, Nancy Drew #24 by Carolyn Keene
The Clue in the Old Album - Carolyn Keene

Funny, the first original text Nancy Drew I find is the one where she learns all about antique dolls and the cutthroat dealings of those who collect them.

One evening at a concert Nancy witnesses a purse being stolen and dashes after the culprit. She recovers the purse, but not the contents. The owner is grateful and on learning Nancy's vocation engages her for some further detective work. There is a cryptic note, a willful child, and a missing gypsy violinist. The key to solving the mystery appears to be a stolen photograph album and a missing doll.

Nancy does not mess around. She is undaunted when threats are made against her life, killer dolls are placed in her way, and when people are rude on the telephone. Nancy is determined to reunite a family AND win the first sail boat race for girls.

Obviously, the big deal with this one is the vast gypsy conspiracy that has even River Heights in its terrible clutches. As a people the Romani are depicted here as mysterious, superstitious, and 'wild'. In fact, of great concern for one character is the fact that her granddaughter's gypsy blood may be affecting her behavior. Its totally that and not her missing/dead parents. I don't know much about the Romani as a group, especially in the United States, but they are reduced to a carnival sideshow ("see the child bride in tent 6!") and in the tight grip of the "old ways". During her investigation, everyone was frightened into silence, and in the end it was a white woman who was hiding among them in the caravan that helped Nancy save the day. It doesn't even look like the revised text of 1977 took care of the problems. It's amazing what was acceptable only a few decades ago.

That was hard to swallow, but Nancy Drew, sailing genius, and doll mania kept me reading. My husband, doll genius, assured me that most dolls don't conceal venomous blades and poison spores. Magical health radiation was not a standard feature either. Some of the details were right: many of the dolls Nancy was shown in the collection and at the auction exist and are still sought after. Not enough to fund a crime ring (in this economy?), but its fun to find these references in unexpected places.

Overall, I'm glad to have found this, and even stumbled upon a whole trove of early Nancy Drews so I'm going to be reading a lot more of these.

Next: 'The Ghost of Blackwood Hall'

Previous: 'The Mystery of the Tolling Bell'

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review 2018-07-12 03:45
The Mysterious Case of Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys by Carole Kismaric
The Mysterious Case of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys - Carole Kismaric,Marvin Heiferman

I picked this up because of my recent re-attachment to the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew novels. I've been curious about what the original books would have been like ever since I discovered they were re-written starting in the late 1950s. I recently had re-read the revised first volume of each series and was under-whelmed enough to do a combo review, and then I began finding early editions. They are sooo much better you guys! Problematic, but not dull!

I haven't reviewed them yet, because I've got stuff going on all the time like no one else on the planet. When I do, you can check my totes-sleuthy shelf....If I don't change that shelf's name. Jeepers. Anyway this book:

This was a fan-letter about Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys with good layouts and illustrations. The content was often repetitive and a trifle biased towards boy detectives. There were musings on other product lines inspired by the series, successful and not-so adaptations for film and TV (this is 1998 so that aughts film didn't get consideration...which is a good thing). The book does provide a nice pocket history of the development of the juvenile series market though the Strathmeyer Syndicate, and how they invented the ghostwriter as we know it today. There are better and much more comprehensive books on the subject: for Nancy Drew there is "Girl Sleuth" by Melanie Rehak, and for the Hardy Boys try "The Secret of the Hardy Boys" by Marilyn S. Greenwald, which focuses on the first ghostwriter for the series.

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text 2018-06-28 23:29
The Hidden Staircase – ND2.6

The Hidden Staircase - Carolyn Keene  The Hidden Staircase - Mildred Benson,Carolyn Keene  

Reading the 1930 & 1959 versions of The Hidden Staircase simultaneously, comparing differences in the story and characters, and pondering dated plot points. Spoilers: full plot description below!

 

1930 Chs 17-22; 1959 Chs 18-19

 

FINALLY we get to the hidden staircase, and the pace really picks up as all the random plot elements start to converge. But not before we spend a lot more time in 1959 with Nancy and the police tracking down the men who kidnapped her father. Acting on clues that Nancy gave them, they’ve picked up one of the men, but can’t get a confession from him. So naturally (?!?), they ask Nancy to do the interrogation. She is of course successful, by using her feminine wiles to appeal to his sense of decency and shames him into cooperating because he’s really just a good guy who fell in to bad company and is now heartily ashamed of himself.

 

1930 Nancy, convinced that Gombet is her “ghost”, decides to confront him directly, but conceals her plans from the frightened old ladies. After they fall asleep, she sneaks out of the house through a window, armed with a flashlight and her gun. Gombet is leaving his house just as she’s getting there, so she decides to break into his house and explore rather than questioning him. She sees a “surly-looking creature” (Gombet’s servant) through the window and avoids the kitchen, then tries all the windows until she finds one to the cellar that’s open. Excitement ensues as she sneaks around, trying to avoid getting caught by the servant, until she accidentally falls through a hidden door in an upstairs closet and all the way down a hidden staircase.

 

1959 Nancy, having spent all the valuable page space dancing, cooking, cleaning, eating delicious meals, and investigating her father’s disappearance, doesn’t get to have fun sneaking around a house that she’s broken into, avoiding detection by a scary servant. Partly because the later revisions deal with the earlier racist stereotypes by just making all the characters white, and partly because 1959 Nancy is too virtuous to engage in illegal breaking and entering. Instead, she wheedles a realtor into giving her permission to explore, despite the house already having been sold to (surprise!) Nathan Gomber. Once again, Nancy lets other characters engage in the shady ethics while she profits from it. She’s like a mob boss keeping her hands clean by letting lesser people do her dirty work. Anyway, similar to 1930, Nancy finds the hidden door upstairs and falls down the staircase, then she and Helen go exploring, eventually coming to another stone staircase, but are confronted by a man telling them to stop.

 

1930 Nancy’s time in the tunnel is a lot more fun, because she’s down there alone at night and nobody knows where she is, and it’s dank and smelly and there are rats, and her flashlight battery is fading, but she bravely marches on until she comes to another stairway that takes her up to… a trapdoor in the attic floor at The Mansion! Nancy sleeps in the next morning and wakes to find that the sisters have finally caved to Gombet’s demands and have verbally agreed to sell the house, but Nancy reveals that Gombet was the ghost and shows them the hidden stairway. They all go exploring together, and discover all the hidden entrances to explain all the ghostly happenings. Then Nancy and the old ladies pile into her little roadster and roar off into town to report to the police.

 

Dated Plot Points: Nancy is trapped in the hidden passageway with no way to call for help, so I’m not sure how this would work in a modern adventure story. I suppose their mobile phones might get no cell reception underground, or maybe Nancy’s phone could have smashed when she fell, and Helen could have forgotten to bring her phone? Also, I loved that the 1959 girls would go exploring a dilapidated old mansion wearing skirts, and even more so that those skirts would have pockets AND those pockets would big enough to carry their flashlights in. I don’t believe they had mini maglites in those days, so these would have been bulky, heavy devices.

 

Considerations: It has always bugged me, and still does, that the books use a single “p” spelling for kidnapped. “Kidnaped” instead of “kidnapped”, although apparently either spelling is correct. Doesn’t make it right though.

 

Index of posts for The Hidden Staircase:

ND2.0

ND2.11

ND2.12

ND2.2

ND2.3

ND2.4

ND2.5

ND2.6

ND2.7 (pending)

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