Friday, July 12, 2013

Nancy Drew #54 The Strange Message in the Parchment

In Nancy Drew #54, The Strange Message in the Parchment,  Nancy is asked by Junie Flockhart to discover a message in a parchment.  The Flockharts purchased the parchment, and soon after, an anonymous caller informed them that the parchment is the key to righting a wrong.  Nancy, Bess, George, Ned, Burt, and Dave join Nancy at the Flockhart's farm and help her solve the mystery.

Lots is wrong with this Nancy Drew mystery, and it's like we can see how Harriet Adams descended into dementia as these books were written.  Nancy even acts out of character at times. 

The book gives too graphic of a description of the slaughterhouse on page 22.  I was eating a corn dog as I read that page, and I stopped, staring at my corn dog.  I was thinking about where that corn dog came from and then had to force myself to finish it.  I don't know what Harriet was thinking.

On pages 23 and 24, Nancy and Junie recite some bad poetry, like how Junie had a pet lamb that was taken away and made into a sheepskin coat.  Was Harriet trying to gross me out even more?

Mr. Rocco has lived on a farm near the Flockhart farm for many years.  Strangely, on page 38, Junie has no idea how to get to his farm.  Really?

On page 40, Nancy and Junie get what they deserve when they trespass on Mr. Rocco's property.  They are attacked by a flock of vicious birds!  Later in the story, we learn that the birds were lifelike mechanical birds.  This plot device reminds me of the events from The Invisible Intruder.

The painted parchment is stolen from the Flockhart's home.  Nancy draws copies of the pictures as best she can, thinking that the artist can be identified from her sketches.  How?  The reader is expected to believe that Nancy is so good that she can duplicate someone's painting well enough that the original artist can be identified.  Not only that, but Nancy can recreate the original artist's work completely from memory.  Seriously?

Eezy's constant quoting of bible passages annoyed me.  Everything about the book kind of annoyed me.

Here we are on page 113, and Nancy is masterfully painting the parchment pictures from memory.  Suddenly, two men pop up out of nowhere and throw paint onto Nancy, Junie, and the parchment!  How random!

After the paint attack, Nancy wants to go back outside to look for clues.  She asks Mrs. Flockhart to go outside with the girls because Nancy is "sure that two men would not want to tackle three women."  I'm not so sure about that, but even if Nancy is right, the men could be armed.  Three women does not guarantee that there will be no trouble.

Nancy trespasses on Mr. Rocco's property multiple times during the story.  At first, she has no just cause, and her actions are a bit brash and completely out of character.  Nancy even ignores signs warning trespassers away and climbs Rocco's fence to get inside.  She searches his barns when she really has no definite reason to do so. 

The early original text Nancy Drew books portray Nancy as a brash young girl who breaks the law at times.  These later revised text books typically portray Nancy as a law-abiding citizen.  Her behavior is unusual for these later books. 

Nancy's five friends do not appear in the story until page 142, and these higher-numbered Nancy Drew books almost always have Nancy sleuthing with others.  Nancy does have Junie, but Junie is not one of the regulars.  Nancy is away from her core group of friends for 80% of this story.  It's like Nancy remembers her brash side when her primary friends are not present.

On page 154, George is "intrigued by the idea of meeting a real thief face to face."  Has George forgotten that she has solved mysteries with Nancy since volume five and that she has met many thieves?

On pages 158 and 159, Nancy has a heart-to-heart talk with young Sid in the jail.  She gets him to understand how sad he would be if someone were to steal something important from him.  Sid decides that he wants to go straight.  What a happy ending!  A criminal decides to quit hurting others.  Aw, so sweet...  and unrealistic.

The bible passages and Nancy's reformation of a criminal make this book seem preachy. 

I did not enjoy reading this Nancy Drew book, aside from laughing at parts of it.

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