Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Nancy Drew #43 The Mystery of the 99 Steps

In Nancy Drew #43, The Mystery of the 99 Steps, Nancy and her father depart for Paris to solve two different cases.  Mr. Drew has been asked to find out what has frightened a certain financier into selling his stocks.  Nancy has been asked by Mrs. Blair, a River Heights resident, to find out where she saw a long flight of stairs with 99 steps.  Mrs. Blair has recurring nightmares about the 99 steps.

Needless to say, Mr. Drew's case and Nancy's mystery are connected and have the same set of villains.  What are the chances of Mrs. Blair's childhood mystery connecting with Mr. Drew's current case?  Amazing!

From the beginning of the story, Nancy gets warning messages from Monsieur Neuf, or "Mr. Nine."  So, some Frenchman calling himself Mr. Nine warns Nancy about going to France.  Once again, the villains give Nancy lots of clues.  If they'd just leave her alone, she'd have so much more trouble bringing them to justice!

This book is full of incidents and remarks that seem a bit stupid.

On page 34, a prowler at the Drew home uses stilts.  Perhaps this was done to disguise his footprints, but a towel or bag tied over each shoe would have the same effect and might even make it easier to walk.  Even better, why not just wear someone else's shoes?  These villains!

Perhaps the villains have mental problems.  On page 36, the villain leaves a warning message, "BEWARE THE GREEN LION!"  The message is propped up inside Nancy's car.  Nancy figures out that the statement has to do with alchemy, so of course the villain has revealed himself as being tied to alchemy.  Continuing the tradition of these higher-numbered Nancy Drew books, the villains hand Nancy her clues on a silver platter.

On page 116, Nancy is with Henri Durant, who met up with Nancy after he went on an errand for his father.  While he is with Nancy, a telephone message is given to Henri, telling him that he is to call his father.  As soon as Henri walks off, Nancy is attacked.  It seems strange to me that the villains know enough about Henri to be able to give a plausible excuse to get him away from Nancy.  I just find it hard to believe.

On page 137, Bess remarks that Louis Aubert "must be a good mechanic to know how to damage brakes."  Nancy informs Bess that since Aubert is a scientist that he probably knows a good bit about machinery, which means that he would know how to damage brakes.  I don't follow the reasoning.  Sure, this is possible, but being a scientist who practices alchemy is not the same as being a mechanic who repairs vehicles.

On page 167, Nancy, Bess, George, two policemen, and Mr. Drew all go into the villains' hideout and secrete themselves behind some bins.  I am amazed that every single person went down into the cellar and not one person remained outside as a lookout.  Not surprising, every single one of them gets trapped in the cellar by the villain.  Of course, they manage to escape, but still, their behavior is ignorant.

I did not enjoy this story very much.  The Mystery of the 99 Steps is a travelogue Nancy Drew book with some incredible coincidences that have little believability. 


Chris said...

OK First let me preface my comments by saying it has been a loooong time since I've read this book! :)

99 Steps has always been one of my favorites. I think because it is one of the very first Nancy Drew books I remember reading; and I started reading quite young. The title always fascinated me as a kid and anywhere there was a long flight of stairs, I would be counting them! LOL I think France seemed exotic too and it was fun reading about some place so far away. Anyway, if I read it today, I'm sure I'd be thinking some of the same things you mentioned, Jen.

Just had to comment though b/c its interesting to view things as you remember them from a child's point of view and then see how that compares with today. Am enjoying your reviews.

Jennifer White said...

I was just reflecting in the last couple of days that as far as I can recall, I loved every single Nancy Drew book that I read as a child. That is, except for Thirteenth Pearl which I apparently abandoned halfway through. I know because I found my bookmark partway through the book when I started collecting them.

When I was a child, I never noticed anything wrong with any of the Nancy Drew books. Even when I read these books again around 12 to 13 years ago, I didn't notice much wrong with them. It is only upon this reading of the books that I have found more wrong with them. It is interesting how one's perspective changes with time.

I posted an illustration from Double Jinx on my Facebook page a couple of days ago. It was only this week that I noticed how Nancy and Ned are sliding down the waterfall as though they are on ice rather than going over the falls in the water. In the past, I never saw anything wrong with the illustration. I actually still like the illustration, but it now seems a bit silly at the same time.

Unknown said...

I, too, started counting steps in longer flights, after reading this book, about age nine. . . I ordered this book and Whistling Bagpipes by sending in a money order, and it took about six weeks---so I have some nostaglia for this book. There is a lot of "James Bond" type book with lots of action. . . there are elements I really enjoyed (falling on the stairs in Notre Dame) and elements beyond belief---running around all the ruins was DANGEROUS. I do not like the cover, because Nancy even looks like a Bond girl with the frosty looking blonde streaks. Blech.