Friday, August 23, 2013

Nancy Drew #65 Winged Lion and #66 Race Against Time

In Nancy Drew #65, Mystery of the Winged Lion, Nancy, Bess, and George vacation in Venice.  Unknown to them, Ned, Burt, and Dave show up in Venice, presumably to surprise the girls, except that they end up in jail.  And a bunch of stuff happens, all of it annoying and boring.  

This is another book that I do not like.  It reminds me too much of The Greek Symbol Mystery, which I hate.  In this book, people speak in Italian, then the Italian is followed with the English translation.  This practice with Greek annoys me in The Greek Symbol Mystery, and doing it with Italian is equally annoying.

Ned, Burt, and Dave get out of jail at the time that Nancy, Bess, and George are bound and gagged inside a church.  The boys make the assumption that the girls are out having fun and even think that they see Nancy and Bess enjoying themselves in a hotel.  Seriously.  The boys see a girl with titian hair and another girl with blonde hair, and they assume that the girls are Nancy and Bess having a good time.  Clearly, the boys have missed too much college and have lost too many brain cells.

The boys decide to make the girls jealous by dancing with some other girls.  This is all a bit stupid and out of character for how the boys have acted throughout the previous books in the series.  I would have been more interested in the book if the boys had actually wondered about the girls' whereabouts from the beginning and had shown concern much faster.

I read approximately the first one-third of the book before I gave up.  I recall that I did not enjoy this book as much as others when I read it years ago.  I find that I like these books generally less than I did years ago, so I see no point in torturing myself on books that I know I will not enjoy.  Onwards to the next title!

In Nancy Drew #66, Race Against Time, Ned is a member of a film club that is shooting a film in an abandoned house near River Heights.  Nancy has been cast as one of the stars and has also been asked by a famous director to be in a commercial that is to be filmed on a nearby ranch.  Someone is leaving warning messages and vandalizing the house.  Some jealous rivals sabotage the film.  A racehorse has been stolen from a nearby ranch, with quite a few suspects.  Valuable items have been stolen in a rash of burglaries.  And if all of that is not enough, a little girl who lives on a nearby ranch is frightened for unknown reasons.  Tell me why I should care.

Nancy's perfection is on full display in this book.  Not only is she perfect at everything, she is super-speedy.  A mirror slips out of a girl's hands on page 15* and begins rolling downhill.
Without even stopping to think, Nancy flicked the reins and nudged her mount, Black Prince.  The beautiful horse bounded forward and, in two strides, went streaking down the slope.  With perfect timing, Nancy swung out of the saddle and scooped up the round mirror in one hand before it could crash on the rocks.
Truly impressive.

This book does not mention Burt and Dave, and Bess is interested in a cute artist.  Burt and Dave have not yet made their final appearance, but they will soon vanish from the series.

You will notice from my summary that this book suffers from too many subplots.  I found the book to be more tolerable than the other books that I refused to finish reading, although at moments, barely tolerable.  Once I read more than halfway into the book, all of the many subplots had been revealed, so I found the book to be more interesting and was able to finish the book without too much effort.  I can't say that I enjoyed it a great deal, however.

*The page number refers to the Wanderer edition.


R.G. said...

Race Against Time is one of the few I don't have, and haven't read. Many of the sellers for "Race Against Time" have the 2004 Girl Detective book.
It doesn't sound half bad though. If you can get out of the Wanderer books, the rest of the series is a lot easier to read.

Jennifer said...

My recollection is that I liked all titles from around #80 up to #160+, although the series began changing towards the end. I did not read past around #165 but did read the first 8 to 10 Girl Detective books.

I have actually been surprised that I have taken such a disliking to the majority of the Wanderer books this time. I liked most of them 12 years ago, but my opinion has been much more negative this time.

Jenn said...


Why do you think your opinion changed in this reread of the Wanderers? I've been planning to start re-reading them again, since I read these as a kid and they have a sort of nostalgia to me for that purpose. I'm hoping when I do a read through again, I won't dislike a lot of them too. ;)


Jennifer said...

I reflected about it a few weeks ago, and I believe it has to do with the kinds of books I have read in the last five years. I have read a lot of dystopian fiction, which consists of a single protagonist and a small group of friends who struggle to survive and have exciting adventures. The key is that the books feature small groups with exciting adventures.

I also realized that I do not care for any of the books written by Nancy Axelrad. I do not like any of them. All of her books feature large numbers of characters, and her plots are unnecessarily complicated. I have developed a strong disliking for books that have a large cast of characters.

Race Against Time isn't that bad, and most importantly, isn't written by Axelrad, but it is unfortunately similar in construction to the Axelrad texts. Any Nancy Drew book that reminds me of the Axelrad texts is going to be hard for me to read. That is how strong of an aversion I have developed to books written by Axelrad in the last couple of months.

I have no nostalgic feelings towards the paperback Nancy Drew books, so that doesn't help me any. I only read around five or six of them when I was a child, and I don't recall enjoying any of them that much. If the ones I read as a child were written by Axelrad...

Nostalgia goes a long way towards helping us continue to enjoy reading the books we loved as children. Since you read them and enjoyed them, you will most likely continue to read and enjoy them. I enjoyed even the bad titles from the original 56 for the most part during the last couple of years when I read them, just because I loved every single one of them when I was a child.

Jenn said...

I do think as we get older our tastes change--even with nostalgia :) I think after Michael's Crazy 8s columns, sometimes some of those later HSA texts can be read more enjoyably as you come across the funnier or sillier moments too. I do agree--books with too many characters aren't the best--too complicated to keep up with everything.

Mike G said...

I have really enjoyed your commentary about the Wanderer volumes. I'm of the age that I stopped my ND collection with the switch to the paperbacks. I thought, depending on your reviews, that maybe I would try some of the "newer" paperbacks.

I was really surprised that you liked the Kachina Doll Mystery. I did read that book in anticipation of the Sleuth Convention last year in Arizona. I liked the action of the book, but HATED the ghost element. The Nancy Drew in my memory would have never have just accepted that the ghost was really a ghost. I don't remember any other Nancy book where supernatural events were not found to ultimately be the doings of very human criminals. I kept expecting a more human explanation for the ghostly activities, but the book ended with the assumption that a real ghost had been communicating with Nancy, and Nancy not making a big deal about it. It just seemed to be a plot device that Harriet Adams wouldn't have allowed (at least in the pre 1972 era before her writing quality seemed to precipitously drop...)