Nancy Drew Girl Detective: Without a trace

October 1, 2007 at 12:12 pm (Nancy Drew)

Nancy Drew, who is still living with her father Carson Drew and her housekeeper Hannah Gruen in River Heights, is a classic and timeless girl detective, who seems to have endured through the 1930s to today. This book was written in 2004. Imagine!!! Still she is a very smart, independent and resourceful sleuth, who always seeks for economic justice and who always likes to see the best in people. As she is able to solve all the mysteries happening in River Heights, she is very popular and common among her best friends Bess and George and her boyfriend Ned Nickolson. In the original texts Nancy was 16. In the book Without a Trace she is already 18. Again she is motherless since the age of three (in older texts since the age of 10), and so she is very close to her father Darson Drew, who is a famous lawyer in River Heights. He has a very good reputation and this comes very handy during many mysteries Nancy Drew has to solve.

nacy-drew_without-a-trace.jpgNancy has to solve two mysteries in the book Without a Trace. She has to find out who is running through gardens in River Heights and stomping all the people’s zucchini. Moreover, she has to find out who has stolen the gorgeous Faberge egg, a precious family heirloom, from Simone Valinkofsky, a new French resident of River Heights.

While trying to solve the mysteries, she gets supported by her two best friends Bess and George and by her boyfriend Ned Nickolson. Bess Marvin and George Fayne are cousins, but are two very different characters. Bess is a very pretty girl, who is very boy crazy and enjoys it if boys are admiring her. She is very stylish and clothes and makeup play an important role in her life. Still she can do a lot of things that you would expect boys to do, like fixing up her own car and diagnosing a damaged gasket or a blown engine from a mile away.  George, however, is quite the opposite. She is very athletic and tomboyish and doesn’t care much about fashion and makeup. She really likes computers. Nancy falls in the middle. She doesn’t care about fashion the same way as Bess does, but still wants to look good when she meets her boyfriend. But she is more in mysteries than in fashion, and this we get to know when she meets Nick in the movie theater. Nancy arrives too late, because she has spent too much time dealing with the two cases and so she hasn’t had time to fix her hair. A short, thorny branch is hidden in her hair that probably got in when she was in Simone’s overgrown garden. This shows that she is more interested in mysteries than in her looks. The following paragraph also shows that she is not very interested in makeup and fashion.

“As I hung up the phone I couldn’t help being slightly relieved that Bess wouldn’t be coming by to play fashion consultant. It would give me more time to continue my investigations.” (p. 67)

And Nancy hardly ever wears skirts, although she is a girl. She wears a skirt for the party at Simone’s place, but she doesn’t feel very comfortable and blames the skirt first for her accident that happens at the party.

I liked this book best of the three I have read so far, because Nancy tells the whole story in the first person and seems to be more ‘real’ than in the other mystery novels, because she is not only perfect. So I could really easily identify with the girl sleuth. I also liked the roles her friends Bess, George and Ned played in the story, because their characters were described very well throughout the whole story.  You could easily figure out what roles they play in Nancy’s life. Although Nancy is very engaged in solving the mysteries, she accepts and even needs the help of George, Bess and her boyfriend Ned, which is one main reason what makes Nancy so attainable to me. Some scenes in the book show that Ned tries to help Nancy taking important clues into account, like when they were in Susie Lin’s restaurant and talked about the two cases. “Something about what Ned had just said made me think of something else”. (p. 53). Nancy describes Ned as not being into mysteries the same way as she is, but he’s more than smart enough to follow along when she’s in full hypothesizing mode. Ned seems to be a very patient guy and enjoys having such a smart girlfriend.

The friendship between Nancy, Bess, George and Nick makes the story very believable, because also in reality most people would need their friends’ or other people’s help when solving mysteries or other problems. 

Furthermore, in comparison to the first novel I read, “The secret of the old clock”, this story was much more thrilling, because you had to read the book until the end if you wanted to know who the egg’s thief was and who had stomped all the vegetables in the neighborhood’s gardens. I didn’t want to stop reading the book, because I wanted to know who the culprits were and this fact kept me reading.


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Nancy Drew Mysterious Stories: Nancy’s mysterious letter

September 25, 2007 at 9:45 pm (Nancy Drew)

Again Nancy Drew, the sleuth detective, is trying to solve a tricky mystery. She becomes involved in a case when her mail carrier’s entire mail bag gets stolen in front of her house while the man is inside talking to Nancy and Hannah, the housekeeper, and warming up. Ira Dixon, the victim, is nancy-drew-3.gifshocked and heartbroken, and Nancy tries to find out who the thief is. Nancy finds most of the letters again when she visits Ira’s Nixon’s neighbours to ask them questions about the relationship between Ira Nixon and his brother Edgar Nixon. The letters have blown off the seat of Edgar’s car after he had visited his brother. One of the letters she finds has been addressed to Nancy Drew. She finds out that she has received the letter by mistake, because the letter from England is intended for an heiress, also named Nancy Drew. Nancy starts to search for the young woman, but it becomes obvious that a dangerous man, Edgar, tries to prevent Nancy from finding the heiress. The clever and smart young girl detective finds out that Edgar Nixon plans to marry Nancy Drew, the heiress, to steal all her inheritance after the marriage. Edgar has found out about the inheritance accidentally by reading the letter after stealing the mail bag in front of Nancy’s house. Actually he just wanted to steal one specific letter of one of Mr. Drew’s clients, because there was money in it. He got to know the client via the Lonely Hearts Club he had opened. It was a fake Lonely Heart Club just to get money from his clients.  During Nancy’s investigation, she finds out that Edgar is a very dangerous person and involves many innocent and trusting people in the racket. Nancy, although several times in dangerous situations, finally saves the heiress from the schemer with the help of her two friends Bess and George.

Nancy again is portrayed as the very smart girl detective in the story, who solves the mysteries on her own with some help of her friends. She seeks nancy-drew_mysterious-letter.jpgfor justice and so she immediately tries to find the thief of the postman’s mailbag. She doesn’t want innocent people, like Ira Dixon, to get in trouble. Nancy strongly fights for economic justice, when she realizes that the inheritance should belong to the real Nancy Drew. She tries to search for her, even though she has to confront many obstacles on her way to find her. But she doesn’t only want to find her to tell her about the inheritance – no -, she wants to prevent her from marrying the sly, cunning schemer Edgar Nixon, who does everything to get money. He even engages innocent people to frighten the girl detective Nancy Drew. One day Ned, her boyfriend, and Nancy nearly get hit by a car, the other day Nancy nearly gets hit by a dropping curtain. At the airport before her flight to New York she even has been drugged by a woman who supports Edgar Nixon.

Nancy and her friends overcome all the obstacles and can be seen as the heroes at the end of the story. Sometimes I really want to be Nancy Drew, because her life must be really exciting. She has to solve so many mysteries.  The innocent people involved in the mysteries, for whom Nancy is the detective, are really proud of her and grateful for her support. She can be seen as a real girl hero. Imagine, the actress Nancy Drew had married Edgar Nixon – she would maybe be unhappy her entire life living together with a schemer. Thanks to Nancy and her friends, she has saved her heart and her money.

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Nancy Drew Mystery Stories: The secret of the old clock

September 17, 2007 at 9:31 am (Nancy Drew)

The mystery novel “The secret of the old clock” is the first book in the Nancy Drew series and was first published in 1930.

Nancy Drew, who is the protagonist in this and all the other Nancy Drew novels, is a sixteen year old teenager, who lives together with her father, a very respectable and knowledgeable lawyer, in River Heights. Nancy wants to help the poor relatives and friends of a man called Josiah Crowley, who nancy-drew_clock.jpghas died recently. Before his death he lived together with the Tophams, a very snobbish family, who treated him very badly. Still, they should inherit all the possessions and money of Josiah, as the actual will remains hidden, till Nancy, the detective girl, solves the case. By chance, she meets two friends of Josiah, Grace and Allie Horner, who are really poor and would urgently need some money. They tell Nancy that actually Josiah has promised to mention them in his will. Due to several stories of the girls, Nancy gets to know some relatives of Josiah, who say that the man should have made a new will before he died. Nancy struggles for justice and does everything to find the new will of the dead man. She does not want the Tophams to inherit any money or any possessions of Josiah and hopes that the true heirs will get the money as soon as possible. Travelling through the rural areas with her blue roadster and confronting very dangerous situations, like getting locked in a closet by thieves, following the thieves and breaking into their van, Nancy finally finds the mantle clock, where the information to find the new will is hidden.

The reasons why I really enjoyed reading the novel

Nancy Drew is a sixteen year old girl and I could very easily identify with her. I mean, even though it is a book for younger girls, I could put myself in Nancy’s position and feel with her.  One reason might be that it’s not so long ago that I was sixteen. She is a girl that is very sensitive and has a very huge sense of justice. She wants the true heirs to get Josiah’s money and hates the people, who would get all the possessions undeservingly. Therefore she tries to do everything to help the people in need and struggles for justice. To be able to do that she has to be very independent, which she really is throughout the whole book. Even though she is only sixteen, she has a lot of freedom, which gets expressed by the car she owns and uses whenever she wants to. She is allowed to stay at a camp with her friends and even takes part in some of her father’s meetings. Maybe one reason her father allows her all the things is that she is very mature for her age. We get to know that whenever she talks to her father and also to other people she is dealing with. One example that reveals her maturity is,

“Convinced that the inspiration was a happy one, she set off toward her father’s office. He was engaged in an important conference when she arrived, and Nancy was forced to wait ten minutes before she was admitted to the inner office. “Now what?” her father asked, smiling as she burst in upon him. “Is it a new dress you want?” Nancy’s cheeks were flushed and her eyes danced with excitement. “Don’t try to tease me,” she protested. “I’ve stumbled onto something important, and I want information!” (p. 62)

When she speaks to the Topham’s family, she also uses language very skilfully. For her sixteen years, she is a very powerful speaking young woman and can convince people very easily. But what fascinates me most about her character is her strong will to achieve something. “Where there’s a will, there’s way”, a proverb mentioned by Nancy that really impressed me. Even though it’s quite a harsh and difficult way to get the original will, Nancy does not give up and uses all her logical thinking and her power to fight for justice.

She is the perfect sixteen year old girl, who seems to live a perfect life. She needs to have enough money to afford the car, the father has a housekeeper who cares for Nancy and the house, as her mother died some time ago, she has lots of friends, with whom she can share her free time with if she wants to, she supports poor people and helps them whenever she can, she has a great relationship to her father and she is even capable of doing things which actually are associated with boys or men, like changing the tyres of a car. She is in no way distracted by class boundaries, values the work and effort done by poorer people who need money, she is very skilful with language and really fights for justice. It seems she lives a perfect life.

Maybe I liked the book so much, although it has been written for younger people, because I want to become nancy-drew-2.gifan English teacher one day. I think, even though the book is quite old, as it was written in 1930, one can use it for English classes in Austria. When reading the Nancy Drew story, kids can learn about certain values in life, which people these days often seem to forget. Justice is a word that really plays and important role throughout the whole story and should play an omnipresent role in everyone’s life today as well. Even though it seems that some parts in the book are quite illogical or too convenient, because Nancy really accomplishes everything without bigger problems, it’s a story that helps people to think about class boundaries, justice, poor people, freedom, parents and children’s relationships, just to name the most important aspects coming up in the book. I can only recommend people who are interested in girls and the aspects mentioned above to read Nancy Drew.

Although the black person, Jeff Tucker, is portrayed quite badly in the book, this should not be reason for saying that children shouldn’t read the Nancy Drew books. Parents and teachers should talk with the kids about the portrayal of the man and talk about the history and the time when the Nancy Drew books were written. Of course, if no one talks with the children and discusses the books, children could get a wrong impression of colored people and could get influenced by the books easily in a wrong way. But the character Nancy Drew is such a strong and impressive girl, and kids should simply get to know her, even though not everything in the books can be taken for granted. The most important thing is that adults talk to the children and try to help them understand the characters showing up in the books.

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