Friday, January 25, 2013

Nancy Drew #31 The Ringmaster's Secret

In Nancy Drew #31, The Ringmaster's Secret, Nancy investigates the mystery of Sims' Circus.  The circus is run by Mr. Kroon, who is abusive towards Lolita, his ward.  Lolita is an aerialist for the circus, and her parents, famous aerialists, are believed to have been killed in an accident many years before.  When Nancy observes how unhappy Lolita is and witnesses Mr. Kroon's suspicious behavior, she decides to help Lolita by finding out what happened to her mother and father.

This book opens with a string of amazing coincidences.  Nancy receives a bracelet which was recently purchased by Aunt Eloise.  The bracelet was once owned by a famous aerialist.  At the exact time that Nancy receives the bracelet, Sims' Circus is in town.  Nancy meets Lolita at the circus and discovers that her bracelet belonged to Lolita's mother.

Also at the same time, Nancy takes riding lessons from Roberto, who once worked for Sims' Circus.  Hitch works for Roberto, and he hates Sims' circus.  All of the events are neatly connected in some fashion or another. This is just like when Ned, Burt, and Dave always conveniently have breaks from college whenever Nancy, Bess, and George travel to a remote location.

One has to suspend belief while reading this book, especially with respect to Nancy's trick riding.  Somehow, Nancy is good enough to take the place of an injured rider in the circus.  Nancy can stand on a cantering horse, and she can even perform somersaults over moving horses.   Wow!

As with all other original and revised texts from this time period, both versions tell exactly the same story.  I did notice a couple of minor differences that are worth mentioning.

In both versions, Hannah is upset that Nancy's lunch must wait and perhaps get ruined when unexpected callers arrive at the Drew home.  The revised text removes the humorous content from this scene, including Hannah's loud "groan of disgust" that occurs on page 64 of the original text.  The original text scene is rather funny.

On page 94 of the original text, "Nancy's heart began to thump wildly.  Up to this moment she had not fully realized that she was actually part of the circus.  Soon she would be under the floodlights performing for hundreds of people!"

Removing that one passage in the revised text makes it seem like Nancy is barely nervous about performing in the circus.  At least Nancy is properly nervous in the original text, even though it is ridiculous that someone who has practiced trick riding for just a few weeks is good enough to join the circus.

Nancy Drew Files #82, Dangerous Relations, which was published in 1993, bears some similarity to the plot of The Ringmaster's Secret.  Nancy is asked by Hayden Gentry, the trainer for a trapeze act, to help his girlfriend, Natalia Petronov, find her real father.  Natalia is a trapeze artist and is engaged to Hayden.  The circus is run by Marshall Keiser, who is prone to losing his temper.

While Dangerous Relations has noticeable similarities to The Ringmaster's Secret, the story takes a different direction.  For this reason, readers will not be able to correctly guess the villain.  Dangerous Relations is one of the better and more memorable Nancy Drew Files stories.

The Ringmaster's Secret is equally good in the original and revised text versions.  The original text has a slight edge, since the scene with Hannah's "groan of disgust" is not to be missed.

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