Saturday, January 25, 2020

Nancy Drew Diaries #19 Hidden Pictures

In Nancy Drew Diaries #19, Hidden Pictures, Nancy receives a newspaper article in the mail.  The article tells about an employee who disappeared from the Carlisle Museum—and then reappeared inside a vintage photo displayed in the museum's Christopher DeSantos exhibit!

Nancy, Bess, and George travel to Shady Oaks, where the museum is located.  Upon their arrival, the girls learn that another person has vanished, and this victim has also reappeared inside a vintage photo in the exhibit.  The photos are locked inside their frames via combination locks, which makes tampering highly unlikely.  Nancy feels certain that spirits are not responsible, and she sets out to uncover the culprit.

The entire Nancy Drew Diaries series has been plagued by the constant switching between bad authors and good authors.  Each time we get a good book, we then get a bad book, and the cycle repeats.  Since I did not like the previous book, as it bears too much resemblance to The Haunting on Heliotrope Lane, I fully expected this book to be good, which would fit the constantly changing pattern of the series.  I was correct.  And of course, this means that the next book will probably be awful.

This book has none of the problems of any of the substandard books in this series.  Since I have read the books in this series months apart from each other over the course of the last seven years, it's hard to compare how good the books are to each other.  Looking over my past reviews, I estimate that this book is one of the top five to seven books in the set, which to date contains 20 titles.

The story starts off very strong and is interesting from the very first page.  I was captivated immediately and read through the entire book quickly.

On page 28, the girls end up with an extra plate of eggs at a restaurant, due to the sudden departure of a dining companion.  "Bess happily ate them herself."  Ah, nice.  This fits the continuity of the original Nancy Drew series.  This is also a big clue that this author did not write any of the Diaries books where George eats a large quantity of food for no reason.

From page 102:
Both [Bess] and George looked concerned by the idea that I might be the next target, and I could tell that Bess in particular was remembering being kidnapped herself, not too long ago.
Bess was kidnapped in the previous title, The Stolen Show.  Normally, I would conclude that this author also wrote that book, but The Stolen Show is too much like Heliotrope Lane.  There is no way that the author of Heliotrope Lane wrote this new book, unless the author of Heliotrope Lane suffers from multiple personality disorder.

This book has no mention of the restroom or needing to pee.  Nobody smirks.

The other books in the series make mention of Nancy being forgetful or unaware of basic life details when she is focused on a case.  This often comes across as a cheap shot taken at Nancy, due to how the author conveys this information.

On page 151, Nancy suddenly realizes that it is morning, and that she hadn't noticed that they were at the police station all night long.  The way the information is conveyed is perfect and does not make Nancy look bad at all.  Nancy is just uber-focused on the case.  Well done, ghostwriter!

This story actually is sabotage for the umpteenth time.  However, this is creative sabotage of the type usually seen in the Hardy Boys Adventures series.  This type of sabotage is fascinating.

This book is very good to excellent.  I actually felt a loss when I finished, because I wanted to read another book just like it.  I enjoyed this book more than all of the books I read from October through early January.  Granted, I read many books during this time that didn't much appeal to me, but it is still impressive that this book is stronger than everything I read in late 2019.

I actually greatly enjoy modern Nancy Drew when done right.  This book is that type.

In closing, I want to explain my current perspective on the cause of the problems with the Nancy Drew Diaries series.  I recently realized that the ghostwriters must be given considerable latitude in how the stories are developed and written.  The old days of yore where the book packager exercised complete control over Nancy Drew are long gone.  The publisher is letting the ghostwriters do whatever they want.  That's the problem.

I drew this conclusion after reading Reuben Sack's posts on Instagram.  Reuben Sack is the ghostwriter for A Nancy Drew Christmas and six of the Hardy Boys Adventures books.  Reuben Sack is one of the good writers.

The Mad Man of Black Bear Mountain  Reuben Sack:  "[T]his one's set in a slightly exaggerated version of my own backyard."

A Nancy Drew Christmas  This book has the word "hell" in it, which offended some fans.  A reviewer on Amazon complained about the language as well as "lesbian, gay people" in the book, which weren't even in the book.  Sack was offended by the review and called the reviewer out on her bigotry.

Dungeons and Detectives  Reuben Sack:  "I went on a gleefully nerdy rampage with this one—D&D, comic shops, LARPing, and a Halloween costume bash at a haunted medieval castle."

The post about Dungeons and Detectives made me realize that the ghostwriters must be developing the stories to a significant degree.  The bad writers are the ones responsible for the mediocre Nancy Drew Diaries stories.  Simon and Schuster is negligent in not doing an adequate job of making sure that the series is consistently good and in line with how Nancy Drew ought to be portrayed.

1 comment:

Pet said...

The book sounds fascinating. I should check it out.