Reading Wednesday: Sleuths, Cops and Game Wardens

Growing up I had a lot of Nancy Drew books.

Some of them might even have been my mom’s. Plus a lot that I borrowed from my local library growing up. Oh how I loved the visit to the library!

Overdue podcast apparently reviewed one on an episode and before I listen to it … well why not have a refresher? Besides I literally didn’t remember a lot of them though I know I read them all.

So this week I read the following Nancy Drew mysteries by “Carolyn Keene”* —

  • The Secret of the Old Clock #1
  • The Hidden Staircase #2
  • The Mystery at Lilac Inn #4
  • The Secret of Shadow Ranch #5
  • The Secret of Red Gate Farm #6
  • The Clue in the Diary #7
  • Nancy’s Mysterious Letter #8
  • The Sign of the Twisted Candles #9

(Basically I read the books that were listed as available digitally from my library. Less The Bungalow Mystery #3 – which they have but had a wait of a couple of weeks.)

*Carolyn Keene in these cases was Mildred Wirt Benson. Also the books have been rewritten to tone down problematic stereotypes (sometimes entirely removing prejudicially-written characters). Which I am sure was needed because the first releases were in the 1930s. The first re-releases were in 1959. So yeah I have no doubt there were significant issues with racism; there’s some less than stellar elements even now. (Update: The Overdue guys confirm the racist overtones in the earlier versions for me.) Based on those release dates, with the last releases coming in the 1980’s, I almost certainly grew up reading the 1959-ish versions. OY.

Anyway, this week I read the 1980s rewrites so fewer problems of that sort. If you read the early versions it will not be subtle.

The first book is … well kind of not a mystery. Or Nancy kind of invents it with her “intuition“ and combination of dislike of one snooty family and kind heart toward a bunch of families in need.

Also as we follow Nancy around looking for ‘clues’ for a missing object (if it exists!) the reader is basically yelling the title of the book at the characters. Close the book and read the cover, Nancy. It’s the secret of the old clock. Come on!

For the reader, the true mystery seems to be, when is an old clock going to show up in the plot?

Anyway the subsequent books seem to have more of a mystery element. They’re occasionally really edge of your seat, considering the age group they are written for.

But then there’s other total weirdness. Like in The Mystery at Lilac Inn, there’s a time bomb planted in her cabin and only an accident of fate has her out of the room at 1:30am when it goes off. But her father shows up and seems completely unfazed. I mean really???

Finally Lieutenant Brice announced, “I’ve found fragments of what I am positive was a time bomb you heard ticking, Miss Drew. I’ll send an explosives expert over to verify this, however.”

Carson Drew turned to his daughter. “Nancy, I wish I could stay here and help you work out this mystery. Unfortunately, I have to return to River Heights and review highly important evidence for a case I’m to try next week. But keep me posted.”

The Mystery at Lilac Inn

Nothing in these books suggests her dad wants her dead, but that’s odd, right? I was a latch-key kid and all, and I am a full grown adult now rather than the teenager Nancy Drew is — but adult or not, I can promise you that my parents would flip the eff out if a room I was sleeping in had been blown to bits in the night just minutes after I left it.

So yeah … all that was the first few days of reading.

Then I moved on to the next Jesse Stone novel.

  • Trouble in Paradise (Parker)

“Wouldn’t you think,” Marcy said, “with all that money and all that time on their hands, nobody works, that these women could manage to look better than they do?”

“Well it’s not like they all married Tom Selleck,” Jesse said.

Trouble in Paradise

Bet you can guess who plays Jesse Stone in the movies! 🤣 which I enjoy more than the books so far so maybe I’ll leave this series as filler between other things.

The books so far, as compared to the movies, have the same names but different plots. And the books so far have a lot less rogue-cop vibe (which is good, I’m not for that at all) …but this one is very much published in 1998. Because I mean like, the bad guys will cut the phone line to the island but they can’t cut cell or car phones (because those are still two separate ideas ha) — but it will be fine because it will take time for anyone to get near a cell phone.

Cue 2023 laughter. The very idea!

But I did have another series working, so after that I moved on to a bunch of Joe Pickett books by CJ Box.

  • Stone Cold (Box)
  • Shots Fired (Box)
  • Endangered (Box)
  • Off the Grid (Box)
  • Vicious Circle (Box)
  • The Disappeared (Box)
  • Wolf Pack (Box)

And all of that Wild West adventure following the Wyoming game warden is just about enough for one week.

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