Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Sleuth or Dare Series by Kim Harrington

Last month, I was in a local bookstore and happened to notice the book Sleuth or Dare #1 Partners in Crime on the shelf.  Hmm.  I decided to purchase and read the book in order to compare it to the Nancy Drew Diaries series.  I wanted to see if these girls are weak girl detectives like the current Nancy Drew.  After all, the people at Simon and Schuster apparently think that girls enjoy reading about weak and scared girl detectives who don't know what they are doing.  Anyway, I thought it might be interesting.

Sleuth or Dare is a short series by Kim Harrington.  The series consists of three books.

1.  Partners in Crime, 2012
2.  Sleepover Stakeout, 2012
3.  Framed & Dangerous, 2012

Norah Burridge and Darcy Carter are best friends, who are 12 years old and in middle school.  Norah and Darcy.  I find it interesting that I can come up with Nancy Drew's first name easily from the two girls' names.  Also, put the first letter of Norah and Darcy's names together, and you get Nancy Drew's initials.  Nancy Drew is mentioned on page 98 of the first book.

Norah is very smart and is considered a goody-goody.  The stories are told from Norah's viewpoint.  Her best friend, Darcy, is reckless and brash.  She dresses in black and has a purple streak in her hair.  Darcy is a technology expert.  Fiona is another girl who becomes close to Norah and Darcy.  Fiona is a very popular cheerleader and has a great fashion sense.  Maya is a shy girl who also becomes friends with the girls.

In Sleuth or Dare #1, Partners in Crime, the students are assigned a project where they have to create a possible small business, including the name and logo.  Norah and Darcy come up with a detective agency and name it Partners in Crime.  Darcy creates the website, using the school's server.  The girls present their project and think no more of it until they get an email:  "Please find my twin sister."  Suddenly, the girls' detective agency is real!  The girls know that a classmate must have sent the message, so they work on finding out who this person is so that they can solve the mystery.

The girls even get a warning note, which is so Nancy Drew, that is, classic Nancy Drew.

Darcy uses a couple of cell phones in a creative fashion, which leads to the solution of the mystery.  I appreciate seeing cell phones used this way, since cell phones are used in an inept fashion in the Nancy Drew Diaries series.

This is a very captivating book.  I read it quickly and decided to purchase the other two books in the set.

In Sleuth or Dare #2, Sleepover Stakeout, Maya has a mystery for Norah and Darcy to solve.  The baby monitor in Maya's home keeps picking up strange conversions, yet whenever Maya checks on the baby, nobody is there.  Norah and Darcy spend the night with Maya so that they can investigate.  The girls hear what sounds like someone being threatened, and Darcy points out that baby monitors can pick up sounds being transmitted on the same frequency.  The girls check all of the surrounding houses as they work on the mystery.

Towards the end of the story, Norah and Darcy have a huge fight because Darcy resents how much time Norah spends with Fiona.  The girls aren't speaking at the end of the book.

The beginning of this story also has a very clever use of a cell phone, different from how phones were used in the previous book.

On page 4, the text gives a good summary of the girls' interests.
We each have our own hobbies.  I'm an astronomy buff.  Fiona is a fashionista. She can't name any of Jupiter's moons, but I don't know any expensive shoe designers, so we're even.  Darcy's into technology, crime, and conspiracies, and she's totally obsessed with the TV show Crime Scene: New York.

Even though we all have our own interests, we work well together.
Not mentioned here is how Fiona's popularity enables her to advertise the detective agency simply by word of mouth.  The girls form a great group of diverse personalities that mesh together well.

On page 18, the case that Norah and Darcy solve in the first book is mentioned, but Norah states that it must remain a secret.  I wondered how the author would avoid spoiling the first book, and I'm pleased with how she handled it.

The second book is another solid entry in the series.

In Sleuth or Dare #3, Framed & Dangerous, the middle school's new field house burns down.  Zane, a boy that Norah likes, is accused of setting the fire.  Norah decides to take the case, but with Darcy not speaking to her, she isn't able to do much.  Even though the girls are still angry, they do come together to work on the case.

On page 119, Norah laments, "The odds are stacked against us."  Darcy replies, "News flash, Norah.  We're twelve.  We're geeks.  The odds are always stacked against us.  But we always pull through.  Together.  And we will again."

I finished the third book wishing that there were more of them.  These are good books.

I really think that Kim Harrington did model these books after the original Nancy Drew series.  She created three friends who are very different from each other, yet each are able to contribute in a unique way to the solving of each mystery.

In the original Nancy Drew series, Nancy's friends are the ones who are reckless (George) or scared (Bess).  Nancy is the stabilizing force.  In the Sleuth or Dare series, Norah is the stabilizing force.

The Sleuth or Dare girls do get scared at times, but this is logical given the situation and that the girls are just 12.  The reason the original Nancy Drew books work so well is that Nancy Drew remains brave, but Bess shows the fear.  In the Nancy Drew Diaries series, Nancy is the one who shows fear, and she gets scared and nervous over the silliest situations.

In conclusion, the Sleuth or Dare series is really good.  The girls are likable and fun, and the stories are engaging.  The books are everything that the Nancy Drew Diaries series should be.

1 comment:

Barb Sanford said...

I've been waiting for your review! I will look for these books and read them.

I have only read one of the Nancy Drew Diaries, and I was disappointed with what has become of our strong, smart heroine. I'm glad this series has a new set of smart, strong girls working together to solve problems.