Sunday, May 5, 2013

Nancy Drew #46 The Invisible Intruder

In Nancy Drew #46, The Invisible Intruder, Nancy is invited by Helen Corning Archer and her husband, Jim, to go on a ghost hunting trip with them and three other married couples.  Nancy was invited because Helen and the other couples decided that they needed a sleuth with them to help solve the mysteries.  Bess, George, Ned, Burt, and Dave are invited to go as well.  This means that a total of 14 people will go on the ghost hunting trip.

Their first stop will be Pine Grove Camp on Lake Sevanee, where a self-propelling canoe appears on the lake.  The second location is Madam Tarantella's prophecy hut.  People hear thunder during séances, although no storms are in the area.  The third visit will be to the Red Barn Guesthouse, where at night, a phantom horse appears with its ghost rider chasing after it.  Fourth, the ghost hunters will stop at a mountaintop inn that was once an old fort.  People often see the ghosts of prisoners.  The final stop will be at the home of a skull and shell collector which has an "invisible intruder" visit each night.

This is an interesting mystery that would have been even better if all of the extra couples had not been invited.  They have no purpose, other than cluttering up the setting.  In fact, every single mysterious event is witnessed by Nancy's core group of six.  Occasionally, one or more of the other couples are present, but typically, Nancy's core group of six gets all the action.  It gets funny as this happens over and over throughout the book. Here are a couple of examples.

On page 9, Ned suggests that "he and Nancy, Bess, George, Burt, and Dave go swimming off the dock of Pine Grove Camp."  Soon after the young people begin swimming, the ghost canoe appears.  At supper, the other couples hear about the excitement.

Later in the story, the ghost hunters arrive at the Red Barn Guesthouse.  Right after the group arrives, a banging sound comes from the attic.  Rather than have 14 people go up to the attic, everyone agrees that only Nancy's group will go.  It seems that Helen and Jim miscalculated by having Nancy and her friends along.  They wanted Nancy to help them.  Instead, Nancy gets all of the excitement, and the other couples have no part in the mystery.

This book opens like so many other Nancy Drew books:  Nancy gets warned by the villains!  On page 3, Nancy receives a warning by phone.  I thought it was strange that the villains already knew Nancy would be on the case.  Nancy thinks it is strange as well, but then she decides that someone must have been near the fence while she was discussing the ghost hunting trip with her father in the backyard.  That makes sense, but then... how did the villains know that they needed to be eavesdropping on Nancy?

This story is full of the stupidity that is present in all of the higher-numbered Nancy Drew books.  On page 14, the couples are gathered around the fireplace when the front door opens and a large gust of air enters, scattering papers and sparks everywhere.  The couples chase after a man who has a large bellows under his arm.  This just seems stupid, kind of like when a man strapped peacock feet to his shoes in The Hidden Window Mystery.

On page 34, Ned is captured underwater by a huge octopus.  Seriously.  It turns out that the villain was carrying a rubber octopus and somehow managed to drag Ned away underwater while at the same time dragging the rubber octopus along as well.  Another theory given by the young people is that the man may have been inside the rubber octopus.  Um, okay. Wouldn't he have had trouble swimming?

On page 46, Mrs. Tarpey tells the young people about the theft of a shell collection and how many of the shells are valuable.  She then recites a bunch of historic information about specific rare shells.  I am surprised that Mrs. Tarpey knows all of this and can recite it perfectly for Nancy and her friends.

I don't understand why the thunder at the medium's hut is considered ghostly.  Had Nancy and her friends ever heard of a tape recorder or record player? 

On page 60, Bess is told by the medium that she will soon apply for a license for her own wedding.  Bess begins crying as though this is the worst news ever.  She is very concerned because Dave has to finish college first.  Well, Bess, if you are that upset about the idea of marriage, just dump Dave and then you won't have to worry about messing up his future plans.  

On page 69, Nancy finds a telegram in with Madame Tarantella's papers.  The telegram reads, "RARE.  MEDIUM.  WELL DONE."  Nancy deduces that the message is a code.  She thinks that "medium" means Madame Tarantella, that she did a "rare" bit of work, and that her work was "well done."

I have a better idea.  LAME.  IDIOTIC.  STUPID.  Really, did someone watch too many stupid cartoons and then create these plots?

On page 74, an attorney named Mr. Kittredge comes for Madame Tarantella's papers.  Helen shows Nancy a shell that she found that might have come out of Madame Tarantella's box.  Mr. Kittredge just happens to know all about the shell and tells the girls its nickname and scientific name.  He tells them where the shell can be found and about its value.  How convenient that everyone Nancy meets knows all about shells!

On page 98, Ned calls Nancy to tell her about his abduction and everything that has happened.  It is not until page 107 after several more events that Ned finally tells Nancy about a piece of paper he found in the kidnappers' car.  The paper said, "Force sale red barn."  I find it odd that Ned left out that one important piece of information until later.

The ghost hunters take turns watching for the phantom horse overnight.  Do you want to guess when the horse finally appears?  While Nancy's group is watching!  I am so shocked! 

On page 169, Nancy, Ned, Helen, and Jim are locked inside a cage with the skeleton of a dinosaur.  Ned escapes, and Nancy devises a plan to trick the villain.  She has Helen and Jim hide behind the skeleton.  Jim ducks out and back behind the skeleton.  He takes off his coat, messes up his hair, and appears briefly as Ned.  The villain falls for it.  This just proves how stupid all of these villains are.

Shells are mentioned all through the story.  The final stop at the skull and shell collector is mentioned at the start of the story, but Nancy never thinks about that as they find shells everywhere they go. Really, Nancy, shells are everywhere.  Think, girl!

But then... why exactly do the villains carry shells with them and accidentally drop them everywhere?  Oh, I know... it is a way of giving Nancy a trail of clues, except she never ties that trail to the skull and shell collector's house.  

The Invisible Intruder has a lot of problems, but I have always enjoyed it.  I like the idea of journeying from one haunted place to another in order to discover the source of the various haunts.  The book has some obvious flaws, but they have never prevented me from enjoying the story.  Far too many people go on the ghost hunting trip, and nearly everything of interest occurs whenever Nancy's core group of six is present.  The story would have been better if Jim and Helen were the only couple in addition to Nancy's group.  The remaining couples are hardly ever mentioned, so their presence just adds unnecessary clutter to the story.  Take out the other couples and make some of the events less stupid, and The Invisible Intruder could have been an outstanding Nancy Drew mystery.


Anonymous said...

"How convenient that everyone Nancy meets knows all about shells!'

I am actually surprised that Nancy wasn't already studying about shells or that one of her friends wasn't, since they usually already know everything. :)

This is one of my least favorite books actually.I was so excited to read it and then the plot just kind of ran together to me, and was as kooky as could be.

Tori Lennox said...

Ever since I was a kid, I've wondered why the cover has stingray hanging on the wall. I don't remember any stingrays even coming into the story.

Anonymous said...

I always liked this one when I was younger, and I can't for the life of me explain why. Maybe it was just because of the cover.

Quote: Mrs. Tarpey tells the young people about the theft of a shell collection and how many of the shells are valuable. She then recites a bunch of historic information about specific rare shells. I am surprised that Mrs. Tarpey knows all of this and can recite it perfectly for Nancy and her friends.
Because it's not like any of us could give historic information or values for rare series books, right? ;)

Unknown said...

It's always fun for me to read what you have to say about books that I have read. Your writing style is enjoyable for me anyway, but it is also interesting to see how other people can come away with different impressions. In this book, I always had the feeling that the reason that Bess is so upset about hearing the medium say she will apply for a wedding license for herself soon, is because, knowing that Dave has to finish college first, she takes this "prophecy" to mean she will marry someone else other than Dave, which upsets her.

Jennifer White said...

That is a possibility that Bess might think she won't marry Dave. I had never thought of that.

Stacey said...

I’m currently rereading all these books and what bothers me is poor Mrs. Hodges. They see the ghost horse, she gets robbed of her deed and then THEY LEAVE! She thanks them for all their help and I am like what help?