Nancy Drew (#53): The Sky Phantom by Carolyn Keene

Written by: Harriet Adams (1976)

Nancy, Bess and George are vacationing on a ranch in the midwest. While Bess and George aim to improve their horseback riding, Nancy is attending a nearby flight school. During one of her lessons, she and her instructor encounter a mysterious plane. When they investigate, they discover the plane belongs to a pilot that has been missing for some time. Of course, Nancy quickly begins to hunt for clues.

This was a strange one. It was oddly political. In the sense that revolutionaries are planning some kind of attack. What kind of revolutionaries? I have absolutely zero clue. All I know, Nancy and Ned uncovered a cache of bombs and guns. I’m honestly scratching my head over this mystery. 

Anyway, there were two moments that made my jaw drop to the floor. The first being super depressing. One of the criminals shoots a pony in the leg. The ranch manager gives a eulogy for the pony, before putting it out of its misery. Bess was too overcome and walked away mid-eulogy. But Nancy and George, with tears streaming down their faces, watched the horse die. One of the most depressing things to happen in a Nancy Drew story. 

The second moment was much more drama-filled. Bess became close to Chuck, one of the ranchers. When Ned, Burt and Dave call to tell the girls they’re planning to visit them soon, Bess panics. When George teases her, Bess inadvertently tells her and Nancy that Chuck has proposed to her (!) and wants her to stay on the ranch with him!! 😮 Well, color me shocked! Many books ago, Bess accidentally told Nancy that she doesn’t plan to marry Dave until after he graduates from Emerson. Now, she’s over here contemplating playing cowgirl to some cowboy for as long as they both shall live. The boys arrive and it’s all pretty tense. But Bess manages to get her feelings sorted out and hooray for Dave. The poor sap will never know how Bess did him dirty. 

So… this book. To be honest, I was more invested in Bess’s love life than the mystery. A missing persons case becomes a weird political plot and the mastermind behind it all doesn’t appear until he’s captured. I have no idea who the guy was. He really only popped up for 2 seconds. Dude who are you?? 

These books are getting to be way too much. What sucks is that there are only 3 books left in the original series…

Nancy Drew (#52): The Secret of the Forgotten City by Carolyn Keene

Written by: Harriet Adams (1975)

Nancy’s friends have a surprise for her. They are all going to the Nevada desert to take part in an archaeological dig. The area is also believed to have hidden gold nearby and Nancy endeavors to find it.

This wouldn’t be a Nancy Drew story if another mystery didn’t fall into Nancy’s lap. A Native American woman has 6 ancient tablets that wind up being stolen. She was initially hoping Nancy would help her decipher the petroglyphs. Now, Nancy has to find the thief first.

A few books back, I made the observation that Nancy messed up a dig. Which is true. She dug up old tribal grounds to solve a mystery. And she went about it completely wrong. But this book addressed the issues I had then. This dig is sponsored by a university, so all of the students are taught the proper way to proceed. Hallelujah! Way to right a wrong. 

Speaking of wrongs, there were a number in this story. The biggest one being when at one point Nancy finds a human bone. The crew takes turns unearthing it, string the uncovered skeleton and then proceed to play and joke around with it. Sigh. Do you know how disrespectful that is? What they did is despicable and shows a lack of consideration towards the tribe. No respectable archeaologist would ever allow this to happen. Because it’s wrong on so many levels. 

Anyway, the story is fairly entertaining. Nancy and Ned kiss. A lot. Well, a lot for one of these stories. Nancy and crew find gold and an underwater river in the desert. Oh, and all of a sudden Nancy knows spanish? And, can differentiate between various dialects. Yeah, okay Jan.
Look, I know these are kids books so I shouldn’t take them too seriously. But honestly, I wouldn’t feel comfortable giving this specific book to my 8 year old niece. We’re teaching her to be respectful. And this book doesn’t send that message. Blegh. 

There were parts I really did like about this book. But I simply couldn’t get past all of the problematic aspects. Which is just too bad. It had the markings of a favorite. 

Nancy Drew (#51): Mystery of the Glowing Eye by Carolyn Keene

Written by: Harriet Adams (1974)

When Nancy discovers that Ned has been kidnapped, she takes it upon herself to try to find him.

I absolutely loathed this book. It starts off with Nancy being jealous of Marty King, a young, new lawyer working for her father. Nancy is upset that Marty King is taking over a mystery her father had initially mentioned to her. Then it kind of spirals out into the science fiction realm.

A self-piloted helicopter lands on Nancy’s front lawn. In the cockpit, she finds a note scrawled by Ned, warning her against Cyclops. Nobody knows whose helicopter it is or why it landed there. But Burt and Dave quickly inform Nancy that Ned has been missing for a couple of days. 

Nancy, Bess and George drive to Emerson College where they discover that another student is also missing. A grad student working in the same lab as Ned. As the case unfolds, Nancy fears that Ned has been kidnapped by the grad student and ties the case to a mysterious glowing eye that appears in a museum. 

Ned is MIA for 99% of the book. Dropping breadcrumbs for Nancy and friends. But they seem to be a step behind each time they get close to finding him. Then the glowing eye plotline is introduced. Okay, I have no idea how that glowing eye worked or what the point of it was. It made zero sense. And I still don’t know if the museum’s receptionist was involved or not? She takes herself out of the narrative; whereabouts unknown. 

And then the ending. Good Lord. So after everything that Nancy does to find Ned, he rescues himself. Then acts like nothing really happened. He was gone for days. Days! With some lunatic pointing a gun at him and trying to steal his invention. Oh yeah, Ned invented something. What, you ask? To quote Ned, 

“My invention is a new way for a scientist to produce laser light so that even a small source of energy will do great feats. It’s done by converting all of the energy into light.”

Boy, I have no clue what you just said. 

Oh, and if you’re wondering about Marty King, well I’m pretty sure she’s never appearing again. You see, Mr. Drew asked her to resign. Apparently she proposed to him and admitted to being jealous of Nancy and her sleuthing adventures. Ha! Yes. It was a mutual jealousy-fest. 

Ugh. This book was a mess. I’m done. The 70’s were obviously not good to Nancy. I won’t even get into how hideous the cover is. I am so done. 

Nancy Drew (#50): The Double Jinx Mystery by Carolyn Keene

Written by: Harriet Adams (1973)

This mystery is a little strange. (When aren’t they)? A stuffed bird is left on Nancy’s doorstep which is only the first in many weird incidents. Nancy believes it is connected to the case she is helping her father with. High-rise apartments are set to be built on private property which the owner is refusing to sell/give up. Mr. Thurston doesn’t want to sell his property because of a zoo and bird sanctuary he has built on it. It is Mr. Drew’s job to stop the city council from forcing Mr. Thurston off his land. And with help from Nancy, he succeeds.

Okay, first things first. The bird. It’s a wryneck bird (like the one on the cover) and apparently superstitious people believe the bird is a jinx. That it’s a sign of ill-omen. Nancy doesn’t know this, but Hannah Gruen tells her. Which then makes Nancy panic and think there’s a bomb inside??

Nancy claims multiple times that she’s not superstitious. She even goes so far as to convince Mrs. Thurston to stop believing in them. Yet, her first conclusion upon seeing the bird is: bomb. At this point, she hadn’t even started working on the case! Then the cops show up and inform her there is no bomb and all is well. How unrealistic is that? No warning? No telling her to stop calling the cops when there is no perceived threat? I call B.S.

And then, oh my goodness. Later on in the book Nancy, Bess and George invite a group of kids to see the zoo and bird sanctuary. So they all pile into her car. There are 9 kids. 9!! Plus Nancy, Bess and George. That’s 12 people in 1 car! Of course, a cop pulls her over on the way. But he lets her go!! He tells her that her car is only designed for 6 people, but since she’s near her destination she can go. As long as the situation is remedied on the way back. 

Again, I call some MAJOR BS!! Speaking from experience, I know for a fact that would not fly. Must be nice to be a titian haired, blue-eyed teenager with a prominent attorney as her father. Or it could be a 70’s thing. Who knows. When did child car seats become law anyway? *googles car seat history* 1971! 

The mystery itself is super straightforward. The bad guys are preying on people’s superstitious beliefs to get what they want. Nancy and Ned fall sick with ornithosis (some kind of bird disease). The big, evil, high-rise corporation is taken down. It’s all in a week’s work. 

Overall, it was a decent story. It’s wild how times have changed though. 

BTW: what is up with these horrible covers lately?

Nancy Drew (#49): The Secret of Mirror Bay by Carolyn Keene

Written by: Harriet Adams (1972)

Aunt Eloise invites Nancy, Bess and George to a cabin near Cooperstown, New York. Mirror Bay Bide-a-Wee, holds a mystery. A woman has been spotted gliding across the water. Nancy is excited to uncover the truth behind the gliding woman. But as soon as she steps foot in Cooperstown, problems arise. A young woman who closely resembles Nancy, has been taking part in criminal activities. It is up to Nancy to stop the young woman and her gang of criminals. 

Once Nancy figures out the mystery behind the woman gliding over water, another one pops up. An old royal carriage is believed to be buried somewhere near the lake. Nancy is tasked with finding it. It’s a little weird how this baby carriage was preserved underwater for so long though. It is explained, but I still find it very suspicious. Idk, I’m not an expert on what technology was available at the time.  

Anyway, Nancy Drew is nearly arrested. Again. It’s actually not the first time this happens to her haha. Whenever she has problems with the law, it’s due to someone else that resembles her. Like in this case, her look-alike is a thief but everyone thinks it’s Nancy. This hampers her sleuthing abilities a bit. She has to constantly keep defending herself to everyone. 

The boys (Ned, Burt and Dave), are also invited by Aunt Eloise to spend time at the cabin. And Burt brings his uncle Matt! He’s going to be a Chemistry professor at Emerson College the following semester. Instantly sparks fly between him and Aunt Eloise! He makes her blush like a schoolgirl. And then when the mysteries are resolved and everyone is set to leave, Bess (the hopeless romantic) tells George and Nancy: 

This morning I overheard Matt say to Aunt Eloise, ‘After you get back to the city I’ll be calling you for a date.’

Okay, this book takes place near Cooperstown. So of course, the Baseball Hall of Fame is mentioned. And of course they visit! Nancy and friends are living my dream! 

They paused at the showcase containing Babe Ruth’s uniform and Ned remarked, “I think he was the greatest of all time.”

“Why?” Matt asked.

“Because,” Ned replied, “he was equally good as a pitcher and a batter.”

As you can probably tell, I loved this book. The mysteries were pretty good. The new character introduction was a pleasant surprise. (I hope Matt pops up again)! I learned a little about lightning bugs, thanks to Matt. I got to visit Cooperstown with Nancy and her friends. Ah, I am a happy girl. Me right now:

BTW: does anybody else get Lord of the Flies vibes from the cover?

Nancy Drew (#48): The Crooked Banister by Carolyn Keene

Written by: Harriet Adams (1971)

Mr. Drew is representing a client that was unwittingly sold land on Native American land. Mr. Rawley Banister, the swindler, has skipped town while out on bail due to another crime. It is up to Nancy and her friends to find him.

This was a weird story. First of all, the word “weird” is used so many times. I get it. It was the 70’s. Let’s move on. Now, Nancy is supposed to find Mr. Banister, who so charmingly calls himself “The Crooked Banister”. Yet, she is focused more on investigating his house. Maybe I missed something?

To be fair, Mr. Banister’s house seems to be as eccentric as the man himself. There is a robot that is programmed to do various things and sometimes he makes trouble for Nancy, Bess, and George. The decorations are strange, a moat surrounding the home catches fire, and one of the banisters is crooked. Is that a clue or just a nod to the man’s nickname? 😉

The boys, Ned, Burt, and Dave, pop in for a bit to help the girls. Nothing extremely dangerous happens though that requires the boy’s to do some rescuing. In this story, they’re merely helpful hands. It was nice.

I will say, the conclusion did leave me scratching my head. It just wound up so quickly. At one point, Nancy realizes that Mr. Rawley was working with an accomplice in his schemes. And it is this accomplice that has been making trouble. They catch him fairly easily in the end. And Mr. Rawley’s whereabouts? Oh yeah, turns out he died elsewhere while using an assumed name! That tidbit of information was told in passing btw. Seems like a cop-out. An easy way to tie up all loose ends. 

Anyway, I did enjoy this mystery. Sort of. It was really strange. Super farfetched even for a Nancy Drew story. The 70’s vibes are pretty apparent in the language though haha. And the introduction of a mechanical robot was… interesting. Even if the way it functioned was confusing to me. That stuff just went over my head.
Looking forward to the next one!

BTW: what’s up with that hideous cover?? Yikes!

Nancy Drew (#47): The Mysterious Mannequin by Carolyn Keene

Written by: Harriet Adams (1970)

Mr. Drew receives an oriental rug from Farouk Tahmasp, a client that went missing two years ago, after he was accused of being a smuggler. He was acquitted but disappeared before Mr. Drew was able to tell him. Nancy discovers that there are hidden clues within the rug’s design. She believes that by decoding the hidden message in the rug, she will be able to trace the man’s whereabouts. 

When Mr. Tahmasp lived in River Heights, he owned an oriental rug store that had a mannequin in the window. The message hidden in the rug, indicates that Mr. Tahmasp wants Mr. Drew to find this mannequin and send it to Istanbul. 

So, Nancy goes international. This time we travel to Turkey, where in an interesting turn of events, Bess is briefly kidnapped. Dave, her “favorite date”, is frantic to find her. Nancy isn’t kidnapped with Ned desperately searching for her. It was a nice change of pace to be completely honest.

Also, talk about a plot twist! Very rarely am I taken by surprise by the unfolding of the mystery. This time, I did not see it coming! Looking back, the clues were obviously there. But it was so unexpected! Ah, a good mystery. 

A Double Dose of Nancy Drew #6

The last double dose! From now on, there will be only one Nancy Drew review per week. We’re getting closer and closer to #56… 

Now, without further ado:

The Spider Sapphire Mystery (Nancy Drew #45)

Written by: Harriet Adams (1968)

Nancy and her friends are going on an African safari that is being hosted by Emerson College. While in Africa, Nancy is able to investigative work for one of her father’s cases. A rare spider sapphire has gone missing in Africa and Mr. Drew’s client is being accused of stealing it. It is up to Nancy and her friends to figure out where the sapphire could be. Also, Nancy is tasked with finding a singer’s missing brother in Africa. The last time he was seen, he was giving a tour before being attacked by a lioness. But his body was never recovered so his sister is holding on to hope that he is alive somewhere.

You know, this is another Nancy Drew book that has not aged well. A lot of cultural insensitivity and low-key racism by today’s standards. Big pile of yikes. 

The story was interesting though. In an unforeseen twist, Ned is kidnapped by the jewel thieves in an attempt to stop Nancy from going on her trip. He’s actually missing for a couple of days before Nancy comes to his rescue. Yeah, she finds him 😉 Once he’s safe, everyone of course acts like it’s no big deal and off they go to Africa.

The thieves attempt to stop Nancy from uncovering the truth multiple times. They put acid on her suitcase handle, burn her clothes and possessions (along with Bess and George’s), and attempt to suffocate her. But Nancy is undeterred. Love this headstrong girl. 

Anyway, the mystery has a decent conclusion. Nancy’s hunches always pan out. And the sightseeing! Favorite parts, by far. 

Fun fact: Omega Chi Epsilon is Ned’s fraternity house. Imagine my shock when I found out it’s real! And that it’s for chemical engineering students. Which makes sense, since a few books back it was mentioned that Ned is studying chemistry. I always figured it was fake. You know, like the movie ones usually are haha.

The Invisible Intruder (Nancy Drew #46)

Written by: Harriet Adams (1969)

Nancy is invited by Helen Archer to go with her and her husband on a mystery-hunting expedition. There have been strange happenings around five different places and Helen puts together a group to figure out what is happening. 

I absolutely enjoyed this mystery!! First of all, Helen and her husband Jim are back! It’s been a while since they’ve appeared. Second of all, this is one big mystery, made up of 5 smaller cases. They all tie in together, but that’s something the reader doesn’t find out until later. 

The group Helen puts together is made up of about 7-8 couples. So with all of these people focused on solving the cases, it was interesting to see how they all worked together. Of course, my girl Nancy does most of the sleuthing though haha. 

One of my favorite parts:

Nancy felt that this tall, good-looking boy was just about everything a girl could wish for. He was wonderful company, lots of fun, yet serious and practical whenever the young detective enlisted his aid on a case.

Finally! Nancy’s acknowledging her  feelings for Ned! ❤

Overall, an incredibly interesting story. Different from the other mysteries. Loved it! 

The next book in the series was written in the 1970’s. A new decade. Should be interesting! 

Nancy Drew (#44): The Clue in the Crossword Cipher by Carolyn Keene

Written by: Harriet Adams (1967)

Nancy Drew is asked by Carla Ponce to help her decipher a family heirloom. The item is an old wooden tablet with a monkey on one side and mysterious letters on the other. It is believed that the item once belonged to a Spanish ancestor of the family. So, Nancy and her friends travel to Carla’s homeland in South America, Peru. 

Okay this mystery takes Nancy all over Peru and into a part of Argentina. She even visits Machu Pichu and learns a bit of the native tongue. But of course, there are evil men trying to stop her from uncovering the tablet’s mystery. 

A group of smugglers, headed by a man calling himself El Gato (The Cat) is focused on solving the cipher before Nancy. Nobody knows what the cipher is going to uncover, but the possibility of its being some kind of treasure is too much for these criminals to pass up. So they try to hurt Nancy multiple times. Even going so far as to tampering with the plane’s door and causing a mid-air emergency. Yeah. While flying from Argentina back to Peru on a private plane, the door flies open and a big panic ensues as the plane begins to destabilize. Talk about a nightmare come true! But the pilot is amazing and is able to land the aircraft safely. Phew! 

An incredible mystery. I loved reading about George using her judo skills on the villains. When the trip was being planned, Nancy tells Ned that since he and the boys aren’t going on the trip, they would rely on George. And they did. Homegirl can kick some ass! 

Overall, a good mystery with a decent story. 

Nancy Drew (#43): The Mystery of the 99 Steps by Carolyn Keene

Written by: Harriet Adams (1966)

Carson Drew is in Paris, doing a bit of investigative work. He has been hired by worried friends of Monsieur LeBlanc, a wealthy businessman, to find out why he is selling all his securities and buying diamonds. Mr. Drew needs Nancy’s help so he invites his daughter and her friends on the trip. Which is wonderful for Nancy as she has a mystery of her own to solve. River Heights resident, Mrs. Josette Blair, has suffered a great family misfortune and has been recently plagued by nightmares. All she can recall, is that it has to do with her early childhood in Paris and 99 steps. What 99 steps, and how does that tie with the dream? Well, that’s what Nancy has to figire out.

Phew! Okay. We’re in Paris, France!! 

Um, Nancy’s mystery is fascinating. She doesn’t really have any clues to go on but she still manages to find a connection between her case and her father’s. Now, Mr. Drew’s case is, well, uh, ridiculous. Monsieur LeBlanc is being duped pretty much. Someone has made him believe that he can turn anything into gold, making LeBlanc panic because currency is backed by gold and so he starts buying up diamonds. Honestly, his greed got the better of him. 

So… the girls speak fluent french. Qui convient, n’est-ce pas? They do a lot of sightseeing which ya’ll know are my favorite parts. I’ve been to Paris before, so it was like I was there once again. They discuss the history of some of the places they visit. Loved it. 

While in Paris, Nancy meets Henri Durant. To quote Bess: “Frenchman. Mmm!” ooh lala haha. Oh, and where’s Ned you ask? I don’t know!! He was never mentioned! Should I worry? Even when he doesn’t appear, he’s at least mentioned in passing by someone. But not this time! 

Anyway, Nancy and the police capture one of the culprits right before she leaves River Heights. This doesn’t lessen the danger she faces in Paris though. She’s in a car accident, nearly drowned (Henri rescues her), her brakes are cut, and an innocent dog is drugged! 

In conclusion, this was a really great mystery!