Thursday, April 25, 2013

Nancy Drew #45 The Spider Sapphire Mystery

In Nancy Drew #45, The Spider Sapphire Mystery, Nancy makes plans to go on a safari in Kenya with Bess, George, Ned, Burt, Dave, and a bunch of students from Emerson.  Coincidentally, Nancy's father has been hired to defend a man accused of stealing a fabulous sapphire that contains a spider.  This man has created a synthetic spider sapphire, and some men from Kenya have accused him of stealing the real spider sapphire from its owner.

The mystery opens with three men surrounding Nancy's car with their vehicles and running off.  Ah, one of the many Nancy Drew mysteries that begins with people harassing Nancy for no apparent reason.  If the criminals would simply stay away from Nancy, they would stand a far greater chance of getting away with their crimes.  But no, they chase after Nancy constantly.  It is all too easy.

The vehicle scene is the first of many instances where the book seems illogical.  Okay, so Nancy can't get out of her car because the convertible's top won't open and she can't open the doors.  Nothing is mentioned about the windows.  Couldn't Nancy have lowered a window and simply climbed out?  I am baffled.

Unknown to Nancy, Ned gets kidnapped by Swahili Joe.  Someone then calls Nancy and tells her that Ned won't be going to Africa.  Nancy investigates and discovers that Ned has disappeared.  Again, the criminals alert Nancy that a problem exists, thus speeding up the discovery that Ned has been kidnapped.

On page 34, Nancy and her friends are attacked by men with guns.  The men get tackled and drop their guns.  So what do Nancy and George do?  They grab the guns and throw them into the nearby stream.  The guns would have given Nancy and her friends added protection against the men. 

On page 37, the young people discover that someone has scratched "SJ" on a tree trunk with an arrow pointing left.  On page 38, Nancy explains that she believes that "Ned felt that it would not be safe to scratch his own initials, but we'd recognize SJ if we were able to follow his clues."  Um... Ned scratching anything on the tree with an arrow is rather obvious.  Somehow, I expect the villains would get upset about the arrow regardless of the initials next to it.  Why would it matter? 

I had to laugh when Bess pulls a box of crackers and a candy bar out of her purse for Ned.  She explains she always has a snack ready for an emergency.

On page 49, Nancy rather easily learns a song in Swahili from Madame Bulawaya, and is able to sing it flawlessly.  Of course later in the story, Nancy is able to sing the song in Kenya, also flawlessly.  There is nothing that Nancy can't do!

On page 50, Madame Bulawaya requests that Nancy help find her brother, Tizam, who disappeared in Kenya sometime before.  Guess what?  Tizam has a connection to the spider sapphire case; the villains pinned the blame on him!  Isn't it amazing that every random person Nancy meets has a connection to the mystery?

Oh, it gets better.  In Kenya, it seems that everyone knows Tizam.  And of course, while Nancy and her friends go sightseeing, they stumble across Tizam himself.  Amazing!  Tizam has amnesia, which Nancy is able to cure immediately by singing the Swahili song to him.  You go girl!

At the time this story was written, Kenya had a population of 10 million. Nancy has such incredible luck that in a nation of 10 million people, every single person she meets knows about her mystery.  Wow.

An obnoxious young woman named Gwen Taylor goes on the safari with the Emerson students.  Gwen is self-absorbed, snobbish, and wears a wig, which is snatched away by a baboon on page 78.  Gwen is devastated, but not for long.  Bess goes to Gwen's room, gives her some friendly advice, and Gwen emerges from her room within one hour with her hair styled.  Gwen's personality somehow changes completely because of the talk with Bess, or perhaps because Bess showed her how to style her hair.  Now everyone likes Gwen and is eager to be around her.

The villains are pretty mean in this book.  Ned is abducted.  George is abducted and taken into the jungle where wild animals roam.  The villains burn all of Nancy, Bess, and George's clothing.  They beat up Ned, Burt, and Dave.  They put acid on Nancy's suitcase handle.

Nancy and Ned submerge their hands in oil to counteract the effect of the acid.  They are apparently cured immediately and do not seek medical attention.  Nancy is indestructible, so naturally, the acid wouldn't harm her.

I was curious as to whether oil would be a correct remedy for contact with acid.  I ran some Google searches, and it seems that submerging an acid burn in water is the most common remedy.  I found no mention of oil in the top results.  I did find one page that mentions that mixing acid and oil will cause a chemical reaction.

On page 161, Nancy, Bess, and George return to the hotel and speak with Ned, Burt, and Dave about the mystery in a corner of the lobby.  In the middle of this passage is the statement, "Gwen, in the meantime, had asked to be excused and had gone to her room."  Huh?  Gwen is not part of the discussion, so far as I can tell, and mentioning her name is totally random.  I don't think I missed anything, but I will confess that by this point in the book, I had begun skimming the text.  The book had gotten to be very annoying, and I wanted it to be over.

Most everything about this book is stupid, and I did not enjoy it.  The book is mainly good for laughs.


Ryan said...

At least it's a silly travelouge?

Unknown said...

Unintentional humor heightens this book, agreed! The illustrations of the cars are very poor and do not match most models at that time---in fact, the elongated front hood with a short rear deck is much more like later models, or earlier (Thunderbirds from 1955-1957). On a convertible in the 1960s and earlier, the rear window usually zips, so Nancy could have unzipped the rear window to get out. .

This mystery is indeed silly. I really, really disliked the need to mention whose clothing the girls were wearing after the incineration of their clothes.

Anonymous said...

I can tell you loved this book. ;)

Seriously the scene with Gwen was probably one of the stupidest. They give her a makeover and suddenly everyone loves her!? Dumb, dumb dumb. I got a new haircut and color and I did not attract hordes of people to me. Maybe because my hairdresser is not named Bess.

I think your review was better than the book. It made me laugh. I feel more and more cycnical as I read the ND books. Maybe because I am older and things that were not obvious to me as a child get on my nerves. Like Nancy being handed the clues on a silver platter.

I also looked up acid, particularly acid throwing, which I found on wikipedia. Although not always accurate, it did say many people apply oil to acid burns instead of washing with water to neutralize the acid, thus the oil would make the burn worse, not better.

Uncle Jeffy said...

And not to mention, the latitude and longitude clue that Ned Nickerson leaves is in the middle of Lake Erie...