- File Size: 683 KB
- Print Length: 180 pages
- Publisher: Simon Pulse (January 14, 2014)
- Publication Date: January 14, 2014
- Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00EB9Z8ZI
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #744,833 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Secrets Can Kill (Nancy Drew Files Book 1) Kindle Edition
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Well, recently I've jumped into Nancy Drew nostalgia, and in another review here at Amazon, I outlined the journey that has led me to read some of the Nancy Drew Files again. As an adult, I recognize that I'm not entertaining great literature with these stories, but considering the two I've read this past month, I know that they haven't been a great waste of time, either. This afternoon I finished "Secrets Can Kill", the first installment in the "new" Nancy Drew series that was introduced in the mid-1980s. Gone is Nancy's familiar blue convertible (she has a red Mustang in this book), and her history with Ned Nickerson is reinvented (I didn't like that), but her old 'chums' Bess and George are still in the picture (yet not their poor, longtime beaus, Burt and Dave!), and Nancy is of course still living in River Heights. She is touted as a 'detective' in this series and not the 'amateur sleuth' she was in the original stories. Funny thing, I don't believe this book ever gave her an age, although she originally was sixteen in the books written in the thirties, and eighteen in the revamped versions of those same books that were published in the fifties. She very easily could have been twenty or older in this book.
Nancy Drew, in what I have read of the original books from the thirties, was a sharp and observant teenage girl with a steel trap of a mind. In the fifties versions of the books, these attributes are still present although not quite as apparent. In the Nancy Drew Files, Nancy strikes me honestly as being rather 'normal'. I mean, she's smart, yes, she's still affluent and she still has the same lawyer father (and loyal housekeeper), but her astute character and pointed intelligence are really almost lost on the reader. At least, they were on me. In "Secrets Can Kill", Nancy Drew is hired to go undercover at an elite high school to investigate some vandalism, but suddenly the case becomes heavier than she expected it to become when one of her main suspects is murdered. Silly things that she did which I don't believe the "original Nancy" would do include blabbing about her case in relatively public situations to friends Bess and George; taking delight in petty revenge paid to irritating female characters who get in her way; and falling for a good-looking seventeen-year-old high school 'contact'. The Nancy I remember reading as a child/teenager in the original stories would NEVER let her guard down so easily, nor would she compromise her relationship with Ned!! It was so out-of-character, and made me respect her less. She thoughtlessly traded in her morals--and, I might add, her brain--for a couple of quick make-out sessions. It was like her hormones were driving her motivation throughout the first half of the story! (And yet you can guess what the target audience of this series must have been for this first volume to have taken place in a high school, so I suppose I can't be too shocked/disappointed.) Still, if this comparison is permitted, Nancy Drew in "Secrets Can Kill" struck me less as an astute and capable 'Emma Peel' type of young woman and more as a Barbie Doll packaged with a pair of glasses. You know she's supposed to be smart, and things always work out for her in the end, but somehow you don't quite believe everything you're expected to in the meanwhile, the details don't really add up.
I wouldn't consider this appropriate material for the "ages 11 and up" crowd (if I had an eleven-year-old daughter I don't think Nancy in this story would be all that great of a role model for her), and would recommend the original Nancy Drew mysteries instead. That being said, for ME I found "Secrets Can Kill" fun and inconsequential escapism, and while the ending was predictable, the last page also sets the reader up nicely for whatever adventure will greet Nancy and her friends in Case #2. (Hopefully Nancy will treat Ned a little better in that story!) It's not a bad start to a series, but it will invariably pale in comparison to the classics that came before it. So if it wasn't a "Nancy Drew" book I'd push up the rating; as it is, I'll give this installment three stars.
Likewise, the original series are timeless, whereas these already feels dated, what with several descriptions of 80s fashion and style. However, something can be said for the characterization of Bess, George and Ned, who are not simply "sidekicks" anymore, but often have their own storylines - furthermore, their relationships with Nancy are no longer static (they can have squabbles with our heroine, and often Ned finds himself sick of coming in second to Nancy's cases). Also introduced in this series is the re-occurring character of Brenda Carlton, a catty journalist who acts as a foil to Nancy's intelligence by meddling in her cases. She's a typical stereotype of a rich daddy's little girl, and therefore doesn't add much to any story she appears in, save to make things more difficult for Nancy.
As basic mystery stories go, this is a pleasantly diverting series that can be read in one sitting - though naturally they don't even come close to comparing with the original series (the endings are almost always action-sequences in which Nancy's life is endangered). The mysteries here are feather-light, and can probably be solved by the reader before even Nancy herself.
In "Secrets Can Kill", Nancy finds herself caught up in what she thinks will be a fairly easy mystery. Commissioned by the headmaster of Bedford High to investigate a series of minor thefts, Nancy poses as a high school student in order to mingle among the students. Things get interesting when she is sent an anonymous tape in the mail with footage of her in the shopping mall, and when she is introduced to her contact at the school: the handsome Daryl Grey who takes an instant liking to Nancy.
The case seems simple enough - until her main suspect turns up dead at the bottom of a staircase, evidence of blackmail emerges and another videotape is found that incriminates a range of school students. When the threat escalates to the level of national security, Nancy needs to call in nothing less than the government itself to help her resolve the danger. As the opening to a new series, this is a rather weak first installment, though I must admit I've enjoyed later books in the series.