Saturday, July 27, 2013

Nancy Drew #57 Old Lace and #58 Flying Saucer

In Nancy Drew #57, The Triple Hoax, Aunt Eloise asks Nancy to help out a friend who has been swindled.  Nancy's investigation takes her to New York City, Mexico City and finally to Los Angeles.  Ned, Burt, and Dave are able to join Nancy, Bess, and George in Los Angeles.

The first half of this book bored me.  I began enjoying the story once Nancy reaches Mexico City, but even then, I was not extremely interested.  The Triple Hoax is the typical travelogue book, which tend not to be favorites.

Another reason I do not care for this story is that the plot seems forced at the beginning, and the entire story with the Hoaxters seems kind of stupid.  The Hoaxters have people go up on stage, where they proceed to pick their pockets, taking wallets and similar items.  After the theft is revealed, the Hoaxters have the people return to the audience, telling them that they will be able to retrieve their belongings after the show. The Hoaxters end up using information found among the belongings to target people in various swindles.

Perhaps people in 1980 might have been more likely to tolerate this, but I couldn't help reading it from a 2013 point of view, and all I could think of was identity theft and credit card theft.  This caused me not to enjoy reading the first part of the book.  I did begin to enjoy the book more once Nancy gets to Mexico City, so I partially enjoyed the story.

The book reads just like the higher-numbered titles from #41 to #56 and fits in well with those titles, although I do not care for it. 
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In Nancy Drew #58, The Flying Saucer Mystery, the Drews, along with Nancy's core group of five friends, go on a camping trip in the Shawniegunk Forest.  A UFO has been sighted in the Shawniegunk Forest, and the Drews hope to locate it.

The Flying Saucer Mystery is one of those books that is disliked by a large number of Nancy Drew fans.  I have always enjoyed the story, and this time was no exception.  The story pulled me in from the very first page, which The Triple Hoax failed to do. Sleuthing in the woods is appealing.  Even though Nancy is away from home, the book has the feel of a book set in or near River Heights, which are the ones that I like the best.

Some aspects of the mystery are bizarre, but they are roughly the same level of strange that is seen in many of the Nancy Drew books from #41 to #56.  The one exception is the extended dream sequence that runs from page 77 to page 89, spanning slightly more than one chapter.  The Mystery of the Tolling Bell also has a dream sequence, but it is brief and considerably less bizarre.

In this dream sequence, Nancy and Ned are inside the flying saucer when it leaves, taking them to an alien world.  Nancy and Ned wear silver suits and helmets, can communicate telepathically, and use wings to fly through the air in the alien world.  I believe that if the dream sequence had been left out of the book, fewer people would hate it.  The book is comparable to any of the higher-numbered Nancy Drew books from #41 to #56, except for the dream.  While I love the book, I do not like the dream at all.

A relaunch of the Dana Girls series in softcover was planned at the time this book was released.  To help promote the Dana Girls, they are mentioned by name on pages 99 and 160.  This is the only Nancy Drew book ever to mention the Dana Girls.  The new Dana Girls series never came to be.

A giant Indian named Shoso wanders the woods.  He throws nuts at Bess.  This is pure comedy gold.  Priceless.

Later, Nancy makes the stunning observation that Shoso and Old Joe sort of look alike except for the difference in skin tone.  On page 53, she wonders "if all naturalists were similar in stature."  The thought sounds stupid, but really, Nancy is demonstrating her sheer genius.  Any regular reader of Nancy Drew knows that Shoso and Old Joe will turn out to be long-lost relatives!

Old Joe is looking for his father's treasure.  Nancy discovers a pyramid of rocks in a stream.  In years of wandering the woods looking for treasure, Old Joe has somehow never spotted this pyramid.  I suppose it is possible, but I find it rather convenient that Nancy spots it so quickly.  The pyramid is the first in a sequence of clues leading to the treasure.  The clues and search are rather similar to the ones in the revised text version of The Message in the Hollow Oak.

On page 107, Shoso mutters in an Indian dialect, and it is considered strange because "there are no Indians in this vicinity anymore."  Isn't it safe to assume that Shoso once knew other Indians?  Why would it be strange for him to speak his language, especially since he doesn't know English?

The young people encounter a wildcat.  The wildcat hisses at them, but Nancy and Ned decide to pet the wildcat.  Dear me, this is even worse than Nancy jumping into the crocodile pen in Mystery of Crocodile Island.  The young people want to explore the cave, so they give the wildcat one fish from their bucket of fish.  The wildcat takes it, runs off, and does not come back for more.  I find that hard to believe.

#58 also fits in well with Nancy Drew #41 to #56.  Most particularly, the book reminds me of The Crooked Banister due to the strangeness of certain parts, and The Crooked Banister is another favorite.

3 comments:

R.G. said...

I haven't read Triple Hoax in a while, so I really have no opinions on it.

I don't dislike Flying Saucer, but I do find it a bit ridiculous. That could be why I enjoy it, because that's why I like Crooked Bannister.

Barrett LeRoy said...

I know that there was a Dana Girls series planned, but have we found any of the manuscripts or phantom titles? It would be really cool to see them in print again.

Also, I really like the Triple Hoax, but the whole "Hoaxers" plot does seem a bit ridiculous. I have not read The Flying Saucer Mystery, however, and your opinion has really help me choose if I should read it or not.

Jennifer said...

There is a manuscript for a book called "The Strange Identities." It used to be in the files section of the Dana Girls group, but the owner deleted the entire group. I have a copy of the file saved, although I've not read it.