Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Nancy Drew #18 Moss-Covered Mansion

In the revised text Nancy Drew #18, Mystery of the Moss-Covered Mansion, Nancy Drew travels to Florida to help her father with a case. As usual, Nancy's friends Bess and George are able to travel with Nancy, which is rather convenient. Even more convenient, Nancy's destination is Merritt Island, and it just so happens that Ned's parents have a property there. Of course, they are having a house party and are inviting Burt and Dave to come. The core group of six all end up in Florida with Mr. Drew as well as Hannah Gruen.

This is the first of the travelogues, at least when the books are read in numerical order. Other travelogues, such as #36, were published many years before this revised text was published. The reader learns a lot about the Space Center.

Many collectors criticize this book for the absurdity of the explosive oranges. That part of the plot does not bother me at all. I do find it a little hard to believe that all of the government officials so readily share information with Nancy. They share information because of Mr. Drew, but that does not make it logical that they would give Mr. Drew's daughter the information.

While the young people are at the Space Center, Hannah chances to meet Herb Baylor, who is an acquaintance and just happens to have seen the truck with the explosive oranges. He also saw a newspaper that came from the truck. He remembers the ad from the newspaper and recites it for Nancy. I find it strange that Herb would just happen to remember the exact wording of the ad.

The codes in the newspaper ads strike me as a bit stupid. It seems to me that since all of the villains know about the hideout at the moss-covered mansion that they could have met there every few days to keep updated on developments. For that matter, couldn't they just talk on the phone?

On the subject of phones, Nancy is fully aware that Mr. Billingsley's house has multiple phone extensions in different rooms and in the orange packing house. At one point, Nancy hears part of a call and tries to figure out who was on the phone. In spite of her awareness of the extensions, Nancy calls Mr. Drew on the house phone and tells him everything. This is foolhardy.

Nancy and her friends suspect that the people who live in the moss-covered mansion might be involved with the explosive oranges case. Oddly, they decline to tell the authorities about their suspicions. Days later, Nancy and Ned sneak into the mansion. When Nancy and Ned fail to return quickly, their friends call NASA and report their suspicions. At this point, the reader knows what is happening inside the mansion, but Nancy's friends do not. Based on what little Nancy's friends know and had known for many days, the authorities arrive and enter the mansion. Why did Nancy not call the authorities days before?

The original text, The Mystery at the Moss-Covered Mansion, is a completely different story. The only similarities are that part of the mystery occurs at a moss-covered mansion and that wild animals are involved.

This quote in the original text, page 10, is priceless. "'We must run while there's time,' Bess pleaded nervously. 'Nancy, you know it would never do for us to become involved in some tragic affair. It might ruin our vacation.'" Indeed, that would never do.

Ramo learns about June Campbell's fortune by eavesdropping. The reader knows what is going to happen, and this type of plot exasperates me. I hate reading about a villain getting the upper hand, knowing about every step in the process. I would actually have preferred not to have known about Ramo's success at eavesdropping. I would like to have figured out on my own that the heiress that suddenly appears is an imposter. Of course, I would have already realized it immediately, but at least I would have been left to wonder about the circumstances a tiny bit.

Nancy and her friends have close encounters with wild animals in both the original text and the revised text. The encounters in the original text are a bit more unbelievable to me, since it has a lion loose in the woods. Nancy also encounters a tiger inside the mansion and keeps it back with a chair. Nancy missed her true calling; she should have joined the circus.

I enjoyed reading both texts. Since both texts are completely different, I lean towards the revised text as a more favorite story. This does not mean that the revised text is better, just that I like it a little bit more.


Mishy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mishy said...

I can tell your reading Nancy Drew books. You used the word foohardy. LOL

In all seriousness, I remember reading this story and enjoying it. Of course I was like 12, so I cannot wait to read this and the original version to compare and see how it stands. I just read my first original text ND book last night and found it very good, although it was hard to reconcile that ND with the ones I have always known from the revised series I grew up with.

And I agree about Nancy missing her true calling. Although I think she missed her true calling in several books based on how "talented" she is at everything. If only I was as talented. I'd be rich! :)

Lauren said...

As usual, Nancy's friends Bess and George are able to travel with Nancy, which is rather convenient. Even more convenient, Nancy's destination is Merritt Island, and it just so happens that Ned's parents have a property there. Of course, they are having a house party and are inviting Burt and Dave to come. The core group of six all end up in Florida with Mr. Drew as well as Hannah Gruen.

I always found the contrivances regarding Ned and the boys kind of annoying. It's one thing if they are near home and the boys show up to visit, but the fact that the boys always just happen to have some college trip to places like South America just when Nancy happens to be going is pretty stupid.

And half the time, having them there doesn't really add too much to the story. I don't think it would have been that bad to leave them out of some stories. At least Bess and George were actually traveling WITH Nancy most of the time, they didn't just happen to have something going on right in the same location.

This story is actually the one that alerted me to the fact that the books had been revised. I vividly remembered reading the original text of this book as a kid and when I revisited the series as an adult, I got a revised text, I was baffled as to why it was not at all what I remembered.

And in reading your recap, I realize that I must not have reread the revised text since then because I totally don't remember this exploding orange plot. I reread the original text every couple of years, but I will have to look through my stuff and see if I have a revised one because none of this is sounding familiar at all.

Kansas Mad Man said...

I want to re-read the revised text, because I remember thinking the climax was like a James Bond movie. . . the original was one of the first Old Texts or Original Texts I read (outside the ones in the library, about a half-dozen) as a child. It is almost TOO jam-packed with action---of course Nancy is a good artist, but at least the art school is mentioned in a few books, so she was a regular student, not just fantastic with little practice. . . I like the original, but wouldn't put it on my top ten favorites list, so I must now read about Florida. I remember thinking that I would like it because Jeannie took place there, and thought it was just "okay," at the time, and I remember DISLIKING the internal artist. . .

Lauren said...

Just reread this text, I much prefer the original story, the oranges and space center stuff didn't interest me at all.

What struck me most is that the "moss-covered mansion" from the title just barely plays a role in the revised book! Yes, it's the base of operations for the crooks but the author spends very little time discussing it and very little takes place there. It seems like they wanted to write about the space center and just kinda shoehorned it into this book, randomly finding a way to work the mansion into it.