Saturday, August 28, 2010

Nancy Drew

So I just brought a bunch of my old books back from my mom's house, and a good deal of them are vintage Nancy Drews (mostly from the sixties, though one is from the forties).  I LOVED Nancy Drew when I was a kid, but I haven't read one since... well, at least 17 years ago, I'm thinking.

I've decided to read The Secret in the Attic.  I'm in chapter three so far, and I'm not terribly impressed.  The writing... is not that great.  There are some children's lit books that I still adore (the Bunnicula series by James Howe, anything by Madeleine L'Engle), so I know it's not just that it's not meant for adults.  And the logic is astounding me.

Nancy's dad is a lawyer, and he's been asked by a nice old man to look for clues in old love letters for the location of the man's dead son's unpublished sheet music.  The old man needs the music so he can publish it and afford to take care of his son's daughter, Susan.  Nancy and her dad agree to help him right away.  Were times different then? Why would Nancy and her father assume this music would actually get published and make money? Why would they not worry that the man is crazy?

Then, as the old man is leaving the Drew residence, he gets hit in the head with a rock by a mysterious assailant - so he stays at the Drews' house for the next day or so, and Nancy takes care of him!  I don't trust him.  But I think I'm meant to...

OK, and while he's there, Nancy leaves the radio on for him.  He hears a song, and he recognizes it as a piece of his son's, and knows it's been stolen.  And Nancy believes him!  "Her task was now twofold: to locate the thief and to trace the rest of the unpublished music."

I'm pretty sure Carolyn Keene, the ostensible author, didn't actually write every book in the series.  I think she'd sketch the plots, then farm the actual writing out to a group of writers working for her, like Ann M. Martin did for The Babysitters Club.  So maybe other books are a little better, and don't make the reader think Nancy and her dad are crazily naive, about to be taken in by con men.  We'll see...

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