A wee while back I posted about Nancy Drew, the amateur sleuth who inspired me to write mysteries.
Feeling nostalgic, I ordered a few of the many I’d read as a kid (gotta love Amazon). Written in the 50s and 60s by Carolyn Keene, a pseudonym of the various authors that wrote both Nancy Drew mysteries and The Dana Girls mysteries, they were “frolicsome” adventures for the young [aspiring] Sherlock within.
Having read three so far, the ones I recall having been my favorites back then, I thought I’d provide then-and-now reviews.
The Haunted Showboat
The first Nancy Drew read by yours truly had me so riveted, I spent the entire weekend in my bedroom with it. It took me to New Orleans, which sounded so exotic to a kid living in cold, gray Toronto. It provided action and excitement, a world where a “girl” could lead an exciting adventurous life, have (and easily make) friends. She was pretty, smart, and oh so [enviably] likable; with two affable sidekicks, Bess and George, a darling dad and kind housekeeper, life seemed more than perfect. While solving the mystery with them, I learned a few facts, too. It was a 5/5.
I have to admit—YA writing style aside—it was still an enjoyable read, save for some politically incorrect words/terms/portrayals. During the period, using them in books or on TV seemed the norm; today, whoa, not at all acceptable. Ignorance of the times? A topic for another post. A 3/5 (for taking me back to the bayou).
The Clue in the Old Stagecoach
Nancy, Bess and George attend Camp Merriweather where the trio attempt to locate—yup—a clue in an old stagecoach. In fact, finding it might just help save a town. They detect while pursuing camp fun and encountering requisite villains—which is somewhat reminiscent of those 60s beach flicks with cute crooning Frankie and perfectly-coiffed Annette. Must be nice to have moneyed parents that can send you to fun/faraway places. <LOL> The trio—with the assistance of their ever-faithful beaus—solve the case with stellar results, natch. I’d probably have given it a 4/5 back then.
Stagecoach wasn’t quite what I remembered. Flat and not overly eventful (with some annoying characters), a 1/5 would be about the best I could offer today.
The Moonstone Castle Mystery
This one accompanied me to Germany when my mother and I flew over to attend her mom’s funeral. It had the same drawing power as Haunted Showboat and I was captivated as the three young women traveled to Deep River to locate a girl missing since childhood. Yes, there was a moonstone (a gift sent to Nancy by someone unknown) and a mysterious, rundown castle reputed to be haunted. A sundry of exciting events occurred, including the stealing of our titian-haired detective’s car, a chase or two, and some questionable characters. Oh, of course, the aforementioned beaus made an appearance again—for that “romantic” component I suppose (but, quite frankly, unnecessary). It was a 5/5 then and is a 4/5 now.
As an only child with few friends and parents who didn’t much know what to do with a child they’d not planned for (a fact and not stated with malice or regret) the stories provided pure escapism—distant and intriguing places, and opportunities to allow [a burgeoning] imagination to develop.
What a pleasant diversion these last two weeks have been, an entertaining [if not enlightening] jaunt back in time. There are a few additional Nancy Drew mysteries to read. As time permits. Perhaps there’ll be more reviews, too. <LOL>
For those penning and/or reading mysteries, happy sleuthing.