Sunday, July 20, 2014

Nancy Drew Girl Detective #36-38: The Model Mystery Trilogy

The Nancy Drew Model Mystery Trilogy consists of the following titles.

#36 Model Crime
#37 Model Menace
#38 Model Suspect

In #36 Model Crime, Bess and George's cousin, Sydney Marvin, is getting married to a reality television star, Vic Valdez.  By page 52, nothing has happened at all.  Unbelievably, I was not yet bored, but I realized that all I had read was description after description of reality television stars.  Finally, something happens on page 57.

On page 125, we learn about Sydney's stalker.  This seems like something that should have been mentioned in Chapter 1.  The reason it wasn't mentioned is because that storyline was saved for the last two books in the trilogy.  I feel like Model Crime was a waste of time.

In #37 Model Menace, the plot is pretty much exactly the same as in Model Crime.  This book is more wedding events and wedding parties and is boring, boring, boring!  I just read an entire book of this garbage and then I get more and more of it. 

Model Menace just goes on and on!  The book has sabotage and more sabotage.  Finally, two suspects are arrested, but then more sabotage occurs, so everyone realizes that the first two people are innocent.  Another person is arrested.  At the end of the book, Nancy figures out that all three are innocent (and apparently quite upset by the accusations) and that someone else is responsible.  This is just great!  It's like we wasted another entire book on this mess.

In #38 Model Suspect... oh, forget it.  The camera man on the second book looks like a soldier with a military helmet and a deadly weapon.  If he had gone on a rampage, we could have been saved from this third book.

Anyway, the fire on page 67 is interesting.  Unfortunately, not much else is.  The rest of the book is sabotage and more sabotage.  Wait, didn't I just say that about the previous book?   

Model Suspect does get interesting towards the end, but once I knew the culprit's identity, I was bored again. 

For hours after I finished the third book, I felt traumatized.  I was reminded of how I felt after I finished Harriet Pyne Grove's Adventurous Allens series.  Basically, I am scarred for life.

These three books are like the more boring sabotage Nancy Drew Digest books, except that they are even worse because all three books tell the same story over and over again.  I will never read this trilogy again.  The entire thing is a big convoluted mess and should have been written as a single-volume story, not three excruciatingly long books. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Three Investigators #9 Screaming Clock and #10 Moaning Cave

In the Three Investigators #9, The Mystery of the Screaming Clock, Jupiter becomes fascinated by a clock that shows up at the junkyard.  The clock screams instead of sounding an alarm.  Jupiter decides to figure out why the clock screams and from where the clock came.  Soon, the boys discover that the clock is the first clue in a series of clues.  Apparently the clues are very important, because some villains come after the boys, trying to steal the clues.

This is a story which has quite a few intriguing puzzles and riddles.  It's the type of mystery that makes the reader think along with the boys.

I have read nine of these books, and as I read this book, I finally wondered about school.  These boys don't go to school, yet they must.  High school is mentioned offhand in one book, but otherwise, the boys are never in school.  They must have a perpetual summer vacation!  How nice!

In the Three Investigators #10, The Mystery of the Moaning Cave, the boys stay at the Crooked-Y Ranch, which is located somewhere near the ocean in California.  The boys are intrigued by a moaning cave, which strangely stops moaning as soon as anyone ventures inside.  According to legend, the cave is haunted by a bandit known as El Diablo.

I was pleased with myself for guessing the identity of the villain well before the end of the book.  In fact, I had a suspicion from early in the story, because one comment that this person made sounded off to me, like this person was fishing for reasons to convince people that something was true.

I love the setting of this book.  I loved the book from start to finish.  It is outstanding!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Nancy Drew Girl Detective #33-35: The Identity Mystery Trilogy

The Nancy Drew Girl Detective Identity Mystery Trilogy consists of the following books.

#33 Secret Identity
#34 Identity Theft
#35 Identity Revealed

In #33 Secret Identity, Ned's family hosts a visiting professor from Iran along with his wife and two teenage children, Ibrahim and Arij.  Meanwhile, Bess's sister, Maggie, asks Nancy to help out one of her friends, who is being cyberbullied in a virtual reality game, BetterLife.

On page 9, Ibrahim's age is given as 16, and Arij's is given as 12.  On the following pages, the book states multiple times that the two will be attending high school.  Since when does a twelve-year-old go to high school?  I was so puzzled that I kept going back to page 9 to verify that Arij is really just 12.  The age had to have been a typo.

I did not care for the prologue at all, since I had no idea who the people were.  Prologues typically do not work well and are almost always annoying, and in my opinion, authors should not use them. 

On page 131, we learn that Nancy now drives a Prius. 

George helps Nancy sign up for BetterLife so that they can investigate the cyberbullying.  Nancy's ID is VirtualNancy.  I quite enjoyed the virtual reality part of the story.  It's very different and extremely modern for a Nancy Drew book, but the actual investigation is just like in the old stories.

In #34 Identity Theft, Nancy's investigation has earned her some enemies.  Someone is now cyberbullying Nancy!  Nancy's identity is stolen, and her email is hacked.  Nancy's private email messages are posted on a message board in BetterLife, including a fake one where Nancy says that Ned is "dull." The culprit also convinces people that Nancy is racist, and many people begin harassing Nancy mercilessly online.  

Nancy doesn't want to create a fake avatar so that she can snoop in BetterLife.  This seems stupid.  Of course after a bunch more stuff happens, Nancy finally creates another ID.

In #35 Identity Revealed, the harassment of Nancy now extends to her father.  Some of Carson Drew's private files are scanned and posted online for others to see.

On page 42, I correctly guessed the identity of the villain.  I realized that only one explanation existed for what was happening at that moment, so I knew who it was.  I wanted to go back to the first book and verify a certain sequence of events just to make sure, but the plot for the trilogy ended up so convoluted that I would have wasted a bunch of time.  Now if I had been reading an electronic text, I could have performed a quick search.  Electronic texts can be very useful for that type of situation.  Since I couldn't run a search, I had to wait for verification, even though I was certain that I was correct.

Nancy and George go on a crazy chase through a drug store.  They dash around the entire store, creating disturbances, and then finally corner the culprit inside the store.  Nancy and George then have a very lengthy conversation with him inside the store.  No one in the store asks them to leave.  I thought this was very strange, considering how badly all three had just behaved. 

Identity Revealed is a very long Girl Detective book at 198 pages. Remarkably, the book is not boring at all.

All three books in this trilogy are very suspenseful.  The BetterLife world seems real, and I found that part to be very interesting.  The first book in the trilogy is good but not outstanding.  What really makes the difference in books two and three in the trilogy is that Nancy is threatened by the villain and is in great danger.  I could hardly read the second and third books fast enough because I so very much wanted to know how it would all work out.

I greatly enjoyed this trilogy.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Noteworthy Nancy Drew First Printing Auctions

The twelfth known copy of the 1930A-1 first printing of the Nancy Drew book, The Secret of the Old Clock, sold on eBay recently for $7,500.

The same buyer also purchased the 1930A-1 first printing of The Hidden Staircase for $9,000.  That might be the highest price ever for the first printing of The Hidden Staircase.

Both books were purchased by a buyer known to resell to wealthy clients.

The 1932A-1 first printing of The Clue in the Diary also sold recently for $997.56.

This book was purchased by someone else to resell, and the book is back up on eBay for $3,999.99.  I'm not sure that I have ever seen the first printing of The Clue in the Diary sell for above $2,500, so I am skeptical as to whether the seller can get that much.

The first printing of The Clue in the Crossword Cipher sold recently for $86.00.  This book is the first printing because the back cover lists to The Phantom of Pine Hill.

This auction was not advertised as the first printing, but inspection of the above photo revealed the book to be the first printing.  I wonder whether the book could have closed higher if it had been correctly identified or whether the book attained its true market value.  Possibly the people most interested noticed the listing anyway, so perhaps the price would have been about the same.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Three Investigators #7 Fiery Eye and #8 Silver Spider

In the Three Investigators #7, The Mystery of the Fiery Eye, the Jones Salvage Yard acquires a number of plaster busts.  The boys soon learn that the busts may hold the key to the location of August August's fortune, but not before the busts have been sold!  The boys find themselves in a race with several villains, who are also seeking the busts.

On page 4, Aunt Mathilda announces, "That's a very valuable and artistic statue.  I'm planning to charge five dollars for it!"  This struck me funny, since I can't helping thinking in terms of 2014 money.

We learn on page 7 that Uncle Titus "bought anything that interested him, not just things he knew would sell."  Many of us fall into that category with respect to buying books, even those who don't sell them.

On page 159, "Time crawled past like a tired snail the rest of the afternoon." I love that line.

This is a very good book.

In the Three Investigators #8, The Mystery of the Silver Spider, the boys become friends with Prince Djaro of Varania, who then invites the boys to his coronation.  A United States government agent tells the boys that they are to act on behalf of the government while in Varania.  The United States government believes that a threat exists and wants the boys to try to find out what is happening.

I enjoyed this book, but not as much as the others.  For all series, I have always preferred the stories that are set near the home or homes of the main characters.  I never enjoy ones set in foreign countries anywhere near as much, with the only exception being the Beverly Gray series.  Anytime a book involves traveling to another country and learning about that country's history, I tend not to be as interested.

I enjoyed this book, but not quite as much as the others, due to the setting.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Nancy Drew Girl Detective #30-32: The Perfect Mystery Trilogy

With the publication of #30, the Nancy Drew Girl Detective series changed to a trilogy format.  The cover art was redesigned.  While more stylish and possibly more appealing to young people, I dislike it greatly.  Even though the cover art is not particularly great or creative for the first 29 titles, I do like the design.  I do not like most of the covers of #30-47, and some of them are extremely bad with Nancy wearing the same outfits on multiple covers.  It is laughable.  I don't know what the folks at Simon and Schuster were thinking with using the same outfit over and over on some of the later covers.

The Perfect Mystery Trilogy consists of the following books.

#30 Pageant Perfect Crime
#31 Perfect Cover
#32 The Perfect Escape

In #30 Pageant Perfect Crime, Portia Leoni asks Nancy to investigate the Miss Pretty Face River Heights Beauty Pageant.  Portia lost her crown last year after she was accused of shoplifting.  Portia claims that she was framed and asks Nancy to find the culprit.  Nancy goes undercover by joining the beauty pageant as a contestant.  She discovers that quite a few people have agendas and that more is going on than just the mystery involving Portia.

On page 66, Nancy drives an SUV.  Up to this point in the series, Nancy has driven a hybrid car.  She drives a car in later books, so this is a continuity problem.

In #31 Perfect Cover, Nancy continues her involvement in the Pretty Face Beauty Pageant.  I cannot get into specifics, since I would spoil the ending of the previous book.  The plot becomes a bit convoluted by this point with many twists and turns since the beginning of the trilogy.  I was confused several times.  At the end of this book, we learn the identity of the culprit.  The book ends with a cliffhanger.

Nancy spends most all of #32 The Perfect Escape trying to escape from the culprit.  This is another one of those books where the title tells the entire plot.  Nancy runs and runs and keeps getting caught by the culprit, then has to escape and run some more.  Finally it all works out.

Veronica Mars fans will appreciate that she is mentioned on page 31.

While I enjoyed the trilogy, the plot was confusing and convoluted.  The entire third book was not that necessary.  It was just a way to lengthen the story arc to three titles.

While I overall enjoyed this trilogy, I wouldn't care to read it again.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Valerie Drew Girl Detective Short Stories

Earlier this year, I learned about the Valerie Drew Girl Detective short stories that appeared in the British publication, Schoolgirls' Weekly, from a set of three listings in which a seller mentioned a connection to Nancy Drew.  I was completely astounded, because I had never heard of Valerie Drew.

I was skeptical, since many times sellers make statements that turn out to be bizarre and incorrect speculation.  I was shocked that I might have just unexpectedly learned something that I had never heard in the 23 years I had collected Nancy Drew books.  While I spent around 15 minutes verifying the information, I became increasingly excited and purchased all three lots.

Valerie Drew is a "plucky" girl detective who is assisted by her very smart Alsatian wolfhound, Flash.  The first Valerie Drew story was published in 1933, three years after the first Nancy Drew book was published.

One might suppose that the similarity in names was just a coincidence and that Valerie Drew was not inspired by Nancy Drew.  But consider that the very first Valerie Drew story is titled "That Amazing Room of Clocks."  Hmm... "Clock" is in the title just like the first Nancy Drew book, The Secret of the Old Clock.

The titles of the stories are all in the style of the Grosset and Dunlap titles for Nancy Drew and other series books.  What I find most fascinating is that many Valerie Drew titles that are very similar to Nancy Drew titles were for stories published before the Nancy Drew books existed.  Some of the Valerie Drew titles are similar to Judy Bolton titles that came later.

Also of interest is that Valerie Drew's dog, Flash, is so smart that he is almost like a human helper.  He helps Valerie just as much, if not more so, than Judy Bolton's cat, Blackberry, helps her.  Valerie has reddish hair like Judy Bolton.  Like Nancy Drew, the Judy Bolton series commenced before the first Valerie Drew story was published, so both Nancy Drew and Judy Bolton may have inspired the creation of Valerie Drew.

I would dearly love to get copies of all of the stories for research purposes, but the Schoolgirls' Weekly issues are extremely hard to find.  Most likely, only a small number of each issue still exist.  The paper is pulp and further deteriorates as each year passes.

The three issues I purchased of Schoolgirls' Weekly contain the following stories.

"The Dancers Who Disappeared" from April 1935

This mystery involves showgirls who disappear one at a time when the girls exit the stage.  Valerie stands near the curtain and watches as the girls dance off the stage.  The very last girl vanishes into thin air!  Valerie decides to dance with the girls at the next performance and plans to be the last girl to exit.

"The Case of the Vanished Film Star" from March 1936

Valerie's friend, Trina Torrance, has gotten her big break and will star in a film.  She has received several warning messages, so Valerie goes with her as she prepares to begin filming.  Valerie doesn't take the threats as seriously as she should and is quite a distance away as Trina films her first scene in a building up on a cliff.  Valerie is horrified when she watches Trina fall from the building down to the beach below.  The threats have been carried out!

"The Case of the Haunted Chimneys" from October 1936

Valerie sees a string with a rock attached to the end come down the chimney.  The rock has a number written on it.  Smelling a mystery, Valerie checks the other chimneys.  Each one has a rock dangling from a string, and each rock has a different number on it.  Valerie finds the culprit, but he gets away.

Later, Valerie finds the chimney sweep, who has been fired after being accused of the mischief.  Valerie is certain that he is innocent, and she sets out to find the culprit.

All three stories are good.

Nine stories are available in PDF files from the site mentioned at the beginning of this post.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Books Discounted on eBay and Bonanza

In order to avoid using all of my 150 free eBay listings that I get with my store, I relisted some books as free auctions that I received in a promotion.  I left the Buy It Now prices the same so that the prices would still be correct when I relist the books on a later date in the fixed-price format.  Since the auction starting bid must be 30% lower than the Buy It Now price, these books are effectively on sale for the next 10 days at the starting bid prices.  You just have to wait for the auction to close.

Books for Sale on eBay

I have also reduced the price of nearly every single book that I have for sale on Bonanza.  That's because nothing is selling on Bonanza.

Books for Sale on Bonanza

The books that have the lowest prices generally went down by $1.00.  The books priced at $15 and up generally went down by $5.00.  I still have a coupon that can be applied from any listing.

Books for sale include Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, the Dana Girls, the Three Investigators, Judy Bolton, Kay Tracey, Rick Brant, Tom Swift, Trixie Belden, Vicki Barr, Beverly Gray, and Cherry Ames.