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The Mystery of the Fire Dragon (Nancy Drew #38) Hardcover – January 1, 1961
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About the Author
Carolyn Keene is a pen name used by a variety of authors for the classic Nancy Drew Mystery series. The first author to use the pseudonym was Mildred Wirt Benson, who wrote 23 of the original 30 books. Other writers who have adapted the "Carolyn Keene" moniker include Leslie McFarlane, James Duncan Lawrence, Walter Karig, and Nancy Axelrod.
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Top Customer Reviews
The Chinese neighbor girl disappears, later we learn it is because she has overheard her boss on the phone referring to smuggling activity. Rather than bluff or simply intimidate the mild-mannered young college girl into keeping quiet, the crooks decide to kidnap her and take her all the way to Hong Kong on a private plane, a rarity in 1961!
Coincidentally Nancy's American girlfriend George just happens to resemble the missing Chinese girl so closely that she is constantly mistaken for her by various members of the smuggling ring, who then blurt out incriminating statements, such as "Chi Che -- how did you escape?"
Food disappointments :
(1) Nancy treats her friends to an elegant meal in "a small French restaurant famous for its excellent cuisine", but we are not told which restaurant or what they ate -- big letdown.
(2) Nancy and her friends enjoy a meal in New York's Chinatown consisting of Birds' Nest Soup, Peking Duck, and Bean Sprouts. No rice, no green vegetables(?)
(3) In Hong Kong, they visit a floating restaurant called the Sea Palace, so you think they're going to have exotic seafood, right? Wrong! They eat bacon and cucumber soup (sounds more Scandinavian to me than Chinese), stewed shrimp (is shrimp ever 'stewed'? It cookes in a minute or two), sweet-and-sour pork, beef fried in oyster sauce, bamboo shoots, rice, and almond tea. Once again, just the one vegetable..?
It is a little bit baffling that 6 members of a smuggling ring could profit sufficiently from tiny pieces of gold being smuggled into the US in just 4 Mah-Johgg sets at a time. They have a lavish boat in Hong Kong harbor as well as access to a private plane; seems like a lot of overhead for a small amount gold being moved. Once the stolen gold items are broken down into small pieces, why do they need to be smuggled out of Hong Kong in the first place? Can't they just be sold locally as is, or melted down?
The title, referring to the "Fire Dragon" ends up having NOTHING to do with the mystery -- the fire dragon just coincidentally appears on stationery the crooks used to leave a note. In Hong Kong the girls are treated to a fireworks display at a party at a private home, where the crooks just happen to be among the guests. One of the fireworks explodes in the shape of a fire dragon, but this has nothing to do with the mystery either. In a last attempt to connect the dragon to the plot, the kidnapped Chinese girl relates that because Mr. Lung's name means "dragon" the crooks use the dragon as a password, but we have not seen them do this.
There is a fun little passage where Nancy is kidnapped in a private plane by yet another Chi Che lookalike, and 3 British pilots in Sea Fury fighter planes force it down.
I also enjoyed when Nancy located a hidden microphone in Aunt Eloise's apartment and they all deliberately threw the crooks off their track by indicating they would not go to Hong Kong after all.
Nancy herself is kidnapped and taken to the criminals' Chinese junk in Hong Kong harbor where the Chinese girl is also being held, but inexplicably the kidnappers in this high-stakes caper UNTIE both girls and leave then to their own devices. They make an easy escape, the last 3 crooks are arrested, and the story ends.
The plot is Nancy's aunt had a pair of new neighbors who moved in her building. They were an elder chinese man and his grown daughter Chi Che. Chi Che went missing one day and in an effort to track her down, Nancy (the redhead) and her two constant companions Bess (the blonde) and George (the brunette) stumbled upon a smuggling ring. The action eventually took them to Hong Kong....not before someone threw a flowerpot at Nancy, Bess was abducted, Aunt Heloise' oven exploded, and George have to undergo Oriental drag. And oh yes....Nancy's hot beau Ned Nickerson is revealed to be able to speak Chinese. How convenient.
Overall, this is one of the better Nancy Drew mysteries... considering that this book was written in the 1950s/60s, its depiction of its Asian characters are surprisingly non stereotypical; none of them acted like buffoons or know karate. Which is very refreshing.