Saturday, December 26, 2015

Nancy Drew Diaries, No. 11 - The Red Slippers

I will be the first to admit - the title of this "mystery" did not inspire much hope in me.  Even the cover did little to entice me to believe that there was a "mystery" involved in this book.  Then there's the description - someone is trying to sabotage Maggie Rogers' career as a dancer before it even begins.  Yet another case of sabotage in the Nancy Drew series.  Can Simon & Schuster not come up with any new ideas for a mystery?  Whatever happened to haunted houses?  Missing wills?  Lost jewels?  Long-lost relatives?  Stolen paintings?

Then I read the book.  And for what it is, it's not half-bad.  The plot itself (ignoring the fact that this is the 11th out of 11 Nancy Drew books that deals with sabotage) is somewhat interesting.  Someone is targeting Maggie Rogers, who is in River Heights with her dance troop to perform a lead role in "Sleeping Beauty."  Her wig goes missing, and her understudy has to go on.  Someone puts an app on her cell phone that causes her to be late for a rehearsal, which nearly leads to her understudy getting to take over the role. Someone has the hotel front desk making wake up calls every two hours through the night, causing Maggie to be too exhausted to finish a show, and her understudy has to step in.  See a single thread?  Of course, anyone who reads mysteries on a regular basis would guess right away that the understudy is too obvious a suspect, and they would be right.  But that begs the question - who is targeting her and why?

The author leads readers on a wild-goose chase through a number of potential suspects - the choreographer who pushes the students too far to get perfection from them; the father who would do anything to see his son not perform in a ballet; the jealous student who does not like the fact Maggie might have her dreams come true.  Any one of them have a reason to sabotage Maggie's chance at performing for a critic who could make or break her career.  And just when you think you have it figured out - the author pulls the rug out from under you with something completely different!

Obviously, I'm not going to spoil the surprise for those who do want to read the book.  I will say, though, that for me, it was pretty obvious early on who the culprit was.  I was just completely wrong as to this person's reason for doing what they did.

While the story is 162 pages in length, the font is so large, there is more than likely about 120 pages of actual story if they had used normal-sized font.  This means that there is less time for real character development, which is rather disappointing.  Had they fleshed out the story more, given some more time for Nancy to get to know each of the characters, how they interact with one another and with themselves, it could have turned out to be a very well-written story.
As is, it comes across as rushed with less than three-dimensional characters.   I guess I will never truly get Simon & Schuster's reluctance to allow authors of this (and the Hardy Boys) series to really provide a fully fleshed out, lengthy mystery with some great suspense and characters.

On a side note - when this book was first advertised, many people wondered if there would be any comparison with Nancy Drew's original 32nd mystery, The Scarlet Slipper Mystery.  The answer to that would be a resounding NO.  The only similarity comes in the fact that red (scarlet) slippers play a part in both mysteries.  In this one, the slippers are a good luck charm for Maggie, given to her by her mother.  Nancy uses them as bait to try and trick the culprit into revealing himself or herself.  Otherwise, there is nothing about the two mysteries that are in any way similar.

I continue to give this series the benefit of the doubt, hoping each time that the next book will offer a glimmer of hope of improvement.  I hate seeing S&S simply putting out books with the idea that the brand of "Nancy Drew" will sell it.  I would much rather have quality over quantity any day of the year.  I guess we will have to wait until May and see what the next book, The Sign in the Smoke, is like...

RATING:  6 violently scratched out posters out of 10 for providing a worthwhile plot that could have ultimately been a really great story.

No comments:

Post a Comment