Sunday, September 30, 2018

Nancy Drew Diaries, Special - A Nancy Drew Christmas

This book took me completely by surprise for so many reasons. First, this was advertised late, and it was solicited as the 18th book in the series, but somehow it suddenly was pushed for publication prior to the 17th book. Everyone was wondering how this would work out - until the book hit the shelves and we discovered a number of things...

First, there is no number for this book; rather, it appears to be a special, sort of like the Super Mysteries were for the Girl Detective series.

Second, the book has red endpapers with snowflakes, and the green boards for the book also have the snowflake designs.

Third, the cover to the book has raised lettering, as well as silver sparkles on the tree for the snow.

Fourth, and probably the most surprising, the book has 341 pages of story.  Yes, you heard that right. Three hundred and forty pages of actual story in a Nancy Drew Diaries book! For Nancy Drew fans, this is quite an accomplishment for Simon & Schuster, for the Diaries, as well as its precursor the Nancy Drew, Girl Detective series, have averaged 115 to 140 pages in length, with very few exceptions getting near or going over the 200 pages count.  And with the large font, it makes the actual story page count even less.  But with large font, 341 pages would still be approximately 250 or so pages of story - which means, the author actually has plenty of time to flesh out a decent story, provide some characterization, and simply put - tell a good story!

And A Nancy Drew Christmas does just that. It tells a good story, with plenty of characters who are more than just cookie-cutter stereotypes, and in my opinion, the story has a very Alfred Hitchcock Rear Window feel to it - with Nancy stuck in a wheelchair due to a skiing accident her very first day at the resort! It definitely goes to the author's creativity and Nancy's skill as a detective to be able to solve a mystery while crippled by an accident. In addition to all of this, the Hardy Boys make a guest appearance in the book, and there is even a Tom Swift reference (but I won't spoil it by telling you how he is referenced...)

As for the mystery, that is the one thing that I wish could have been changed a bit. Sabotage is the key here, yet again, and this is a tired trope that S&S cannot get away from. Throughout the Girl Detective series, and now within the Diaries series, it seems 90%, if not more, of theirs mysteries center around sabotage. In this instance, someone is sabotaging the grand opening weekend of the Grand Sky Lodge ski resort on the border of Montana/Wyoming, which promotes itself as being the most-green resort to exist. Its two owners have even lured a famous chef to run the resort's restaurant with locally grown food. Nancy is a guest of one of the owners, for whom she helped her father win a big case. But, from the moment Nancy arrives, things begin to happen.

Nancy is asked to fill in for the chef on a beginner's slope for the opening ceremony - but something goes wrong, and Nancy ends up wiping out on a patch of ice, injuring her ankle and hip.  Someone moved the warning flags, causing the accident. With a cast on her leg and stuck in a wheelchair, Nancy is afraid her entire week's vacation will be ruined. But when she witnesses someone snooping in one of the owner's cabin, and then overhears concerns regarding the big oil company that is trying to bully the resort into selling part of its land to allow a pipeline to run through town, Nancy smells a mystery.

A red pepper scare in the dining room, some malfunctioning electric menorahs, a dangerously-placed bear trap, moved warning flags on a dangerous slope, and a runaway sleigh (not to mention an avalanche, a fierce snowstorm, and a deadly chase through a maze with men bearing chainsaws!) all  place Nancy, Joe, and Frank in terrible danger. But, this being a Nancy Drew mystery, she simply has to follow the clues: an impression left on a message pad, a hidden passage behind a bookcase, and an item left on a staircase lead to a climactic confrontation with the culprit that leaves Nancy hanging (literally) on for dear life!

Plenty of characters (I, for one, thoroughly loved the chef!), lots of action, and more mystery and suspense than all of the Diaries books to date make this special mystery well worth the purchase and read.  For those who have never picked up one of the Diaries books - trust me, this is one you don't want to pass!

RATING:  9 crocks of rotten sauerkraut out of 10 for finally providing Nancy Drew fans with a book that is deserving of the Nancy Drew name!

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