Saturday, July 6, 2013

Nancy Drew #53 The Sky Phantom

In Nancy Drew #53, The Sky Phantom,  Nancy, Bess, and George stay at Hamilton Ranch, somewhere in the Midwest, while Nancy takes flying lessons at the Excello School.  Popular pilot Roger Paine has disappeared along with his plane.  Pop Hamilton's favorite horse, Major, has also disappeared.  Meanwhile, a strange cloud stays in one spot in the sky.  Planes that fly too close to or into the cloud lose control due to a magnetic force from within the cloud.

The book also has a subplot in which Bess has fallen in love with one of the cowboys, Chuck, and is worried about whether she should stay and marry him or whether she should remain true to Dave.  I remember how traumatized Bess was about the idea of marriage in The Invisible Intruder, so I say that she should dump both of them.  She's not ready for marriage!

I was never able to get into this story, simply because I did not care about Roger Paine or Major.  I never care as much about missing people and animals when they have not been introduced in the text prior to their disappearance.  The book gave me no reason to care.

I ran some online searches, trying to figure out whether a puffy cloud could stay in one place and be magnetic.  I could find nothing.  While a magnetic stationary cloud is interesting, I find it implausible.

A burr incident with a horse occurs on page 45, and this incident is just like one from The Secret of Shadow Ranch, 1965 revised text.  In both books, an unfriendly cowboy places a burr under the blanket of Nancy's horse.

On page 78, Nancy and Bruce investigate the cloud after Roger Paine's plane disappears into it.  They find nothing.  Bruce comments, "I guess it's just a hiding place for the sky phantom."  Say what?  Planes have a continuous forward motion.  A plane can't hide inside a cloud for an indefinite period of time.

Bruce flies back into the cloud, and they see a dark cloud inside shaped like a giant.  Soon after, the dark cloud reforms into the shape of a lion.  The giant inside the cloud is the image used for the cover art of this story.  And of course, the cover art is stupid.  This is the only Nancy Drew book that has Frankenstein's monster on the cover.

Nancy discovers a cave, an above ground cave.  The cave is full of mice and falling oily rain.  How very odd.  On page 117, Nancy tells Mr. Wade that since the oil comes from above ground that whoever owns the hill would have the rights to the oil.  Are we expected to believe that this above ground cave has a large supply of oil?

It turns out that a group of revolutionaries have buried weapons in the ground underneath the cloud.  This cloud must never move; it's a permanent fixture like a tree. 

The revolutionaries even went to the trouble of labeling the boxes so that Nancy and Ned would know that the boxes contain rifles and bombs.  How considerate!  We wouldn't want Nancy to open a box and accidentally touch a rifle or a bomb!

This is not one of the better higher-numbered Nancy Drew books.  While reading, I kept thinking about how the writing of Harriet Adams was noticeably going downhill as these books were published.


Thom said...

I also saw so many comparisons with Shadow Ranch RT. Considering that vacationing at a Dude Ranch is my least-appealing vacation spot, I had trouble getting into this book.

Stacey said...

My favorite part was the bad guy deciding to kidnap Roger because they have the same initials? And yes, steak a prize pony and use a the well known plane ofba mossing piolt for your secret group! And then keep all the pertinent info in that plane! I laughed out loud at the part.