I know the old saying is “Never judge a book by its cover” – but let’s face it, how many of us do it all the time? I will readily admit that I have been guilty of it ever since I was a kid. I can remember going into the Waldenbooks or Woolworth’s growing up and running over the section where all the Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Bobbsey Twins, and other series books were. I would spend my entire time there combing through the books, looking for ones that had the most exciting or mysterious covers to them, as I just knew that these books had the best stories. And, admittedly, I still do it today every time I’m at Barnes & Noble or scrolling through Amazon.
So, it’s without a doubt that this cover would lead me to believe that The Ghost of Grey Fox Inn would be giving me a spooky ghost story, something this series desperately needed. It’s been a long time (and I mean a looooooooooooooooooooong time) since the Nancy Drew series has had a good, old-fashioned ghost story. And I give this ghostwriter credit, he or she got the story off to a great start. Stories of hauntings at the inn that go back hundreds of years. A glimpse of a dark figure in the mirror that isn’t there when you turn around. A mysterious figure in an old Civil War uniform standing at the end of Nancy’s bed. Doors slamming, all by themselves. Books, flying off the shelves, with no one there to move them. The perfect set up for the perfect ghost mystery.
“Nancy, maybe this is crazy, but it feels like someone is trying to ruin my wedding.”
And there you have it. We had such a wonderful set up for a spooky ghost story, and the author had to go and ruin it by giving us yet one more in a long line of stories about sabotage. Sabotage, sabotage, sabotage!!! Why does it always have to be about sabotage?! Has creativity when it comes to mysteries simply gone out the door, and “sabotage” is now the easy go-to for mystery writers?
Ah, well, that being said, I won’t say this mystery was a total loss. The author did provide some nice little nods to the original books, starting with the old stand-by, “Bess and George may be cousins, but they couldn’t be more different.” And with the haunted inn comes the secret panels and hidden walkways behind the walls (which, of course, was the manner in which the “ghost” was getting into and out of locked rooms). The writer also gives some rather flowery descriptions of Charleston and many of the buildings therein – such vivid details that have been sorely missed in recent years.
The culprit, of course, was pretty clear from the beginning – the author made it too obvious with the actions and dialogue of the guilty parties. But, overall, it wasn’t a totally bad read, and with 168 pages of story, there was a little bit more fleshing out of the characters than in some of the prior books. If the series continues to head in this direction, even with the first-person point-of-view, perhaps it might finally return Nancy Drew to her glory days of storytelling and mysteries and revive the popularity that Nancy Drew and her fellow series sleuths once had!
RATING: 7 hunting knives tied with a yellow ribbon out of 10 for at least attempting to return Nancy Drew to her roots with a (sort-of) haunted mansion tale.