Sunday, June 29, 2014

Nancy Drew Files 8 - Review

Yes, I know I do cross-promotion of my videos a bit too often here on my blog, but this is a good review! This is the book where Ned breaks up with Nancy.



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In Nancy Drew Files #8, Ned breaks up with Nancy Drew, because she is a horrible girlfriend. Let me pick the right music for this occasion.

*Now you're just somebody that I used to know* No.
*What about us? What about everything we've been through?* Nope.
*Celebrate good times, come on!* There we go!

Two Points to Murder was written in February 1987. It's the first book in the series to take place in the month it was written. Take notes, Spring Break in October book.

The book begins with Nancy and her friends going to Emerson University. Nancy's boyfriend Ned Nickerson is the co-captain of the college basketball team, and they're hoping to make the NCAA playoffs this year. Sadly, someone has been playing pranks on the team. The coach needs Nancy to figure out who it is!

Oh, and there's an assaulter on campus who is beating up random students, but for whatever reason, nobody thinks this is important.

Also, Nancy's relationship is in a bad place right now, and she's hoping to improve it. Our heavy-handed author mentions this five times in the first chapter. Gee, I sure hope nothing bad happens to them!

Ned introduces Nancy to Mike O'Shea, the other team captain. Mike is very intense, and he needs a lot of alone time. Mike gets especially depressed when the practical joker leaves an effigy hanging from a basketball net. Even worse, during the game, someone attacks the mascot costume. No! What kind of monster would hurt Willy the Wildcat?

Emerson still wins the game, but they lose their big lead. As part of the celebration, Ned takes Nancy and her friends to his frat house, where there is no underage drinking or inappropriate behavior. As long as we're living in fantasy land, I want a pony.

Nancy accidentally enters Mike's bedroom, where she finds evidence that proves Mike made the effigy. Nancy and Ned get in a big fight, over whether or not Mike is guilty. Ned maintains that he trusts his co-captain, and that Mike has no motive! Nancy, meanwhile, has solid evidence.

ROUND ONE
Nancy - 1
Ned - 0

The following day, Nancy overhears a student named "Captain Hook" taking about "the line". Captain Hook later gets attacked by the Assaulter. The main suspect? Peter Pan of course.

Nancy wants to patch things up with Ned, so they go on a date, and she tries to apologize for accusing his best friend. Somehow, the apology morphs into a bold assertion that she will not stop her investigation until Mike is in jail. Ned calls Nancy out on giving the worst apology ever.

ROUND TWO
Nancy - 1
Ned - 1

Nancy investigates the two innocent suspects, and her attention wanders on to the Campus Assaulter. The Assaulter drives a black Camero, and...wow, that's an ugly car.

The assaulter tries to run Nancy over, he shoots out the tires on the basketball team's bus, and there's a chase sequence through a heating plant. All three times, Nancy doesn't remember to get the license plate number until after the car leaves.

ROUND THREE
Assaulter - 1
Nancy - 0

Nancy and Ned have another argument, and she is so mad that she decides to get more evidence! She breaks into Mike's locker, where she finds $2000 in cash, along with a list of opponents and numbers. While exploring the rest of the locker room, Nancy gets trapped inside the sauna. The culprit turns on the heat, forcing Nancy to take off her clothes. Naked Nancy...uh...

*scared kitty*

I'm going to skip to the next chapter, if that's okay with you.

Nancy confronts Mike with all of her evidence. She breaks down his barriers, until Mike becomes calm and determined. He thanks Nancy, for convincing him to do the right thing. "The right thing", in this case, is apparently "go away without telling Nancy anything".

Six hours later, Mike gets pushed off a two-story building. Great, now Nancy and Ned are gonna have to find someone new to argue about.

During the final basketball game, George makes a random comment, and Nancy realizes the culprit is Dr. Riggs.

Who?

The team physician. He appeared on pages 9, 116 and 128. Notice the huge gap in between his consecutive appearances.

Riggs has been running an illegal gambling ring, and he's paying off some of the players. The practical joker was a cover, so the team would have an excuse to play poorly and not beat the point spread. All students who couldn't pay their gambling debts became victims of the Campus Assaulter.

Remember Book 4, when Nancy forced her friends to wait outside while she confronted the culprit? That ended up being a bad move, because it left her alone and helpless when the culprit pulled a gun on her. Apparently, Nancy didn't learn her lesson the first time around, because the exact same thing happens again.

ROUND FOUR

Common Sense = 1
Nancy Drew = 0

Riggs knocks Nancy out with chloroform. When she wakes up, she meets the Assaulter. She tricks him into monologuing, then escapes to the gym. The culprit chases her, and Nancy is forced to hotwire a parade float so she can break through the locked exit doors.

Let me repeat that. Nancy hotwires a parade float, then smashes it into a pair of glass door. I'm surprised I haven't seen that escape sequence in a James Bond film yet.

The book ends with Nancy and Ned having a serious talk. He apologizes for being angry with her, because she was right all along about Mike. She forgives him, and they resolve to be more considerate of each other's feelings in the future.

...That probably WAS the original ending to this book. Instead, we get a one-sided, two-page argument. Ned cannot handle Nancy's constant suspicions, the way she ignores his opinions, and the fact that she also considers random mysteries to be more important than their relationship.

FINAL SCORE

Ned - 2
Nancy - 1

So, it's over. Ned says they should see other people, and he says they can still be friends, maybe.

Congratulations, Ned. Here's your man card back.

The End

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Post-Book Followup:

To my knowledge, this is the first book in the series which enlisted the help of actual experts. The special acknowledgments section thanks Marvin Kaye, a mystery writer who currently edits the Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine. Irvin Muchnick also gets thanked; he is a legal consultant and a writer who specializes in sports injuries.

The book doesn't say who did what, but it's probably safe to guess that Marv worked on the mystery elements, while Irv worked on the sports elements.

The fights between Nancy and Ned are realistic and dramatic, except for the final fight where the two of them break up. As other reviewers have noted, Nancy and Ned's breakup is a transparent and half-hearted attempt to shake up the status quo of a stagnant series.

You know how long Nancy and Ned are going to be separated from each other? One book. That's all. This isn't a real breakup; it's a fake breakup, an obvious trap to sell more books.

In regards to everything else, it's a good book. In particular, the suspense building sections were well-done. There is some filler in the book, but it was _interesting_ filler, which is indirectly related to the plot. That's much better than boring, irrelevant filler or relevant filler which is a boring plot recap.

Overall, I'd recommend this book. I just wouldn't recommend the breakup section, even though it's the main selling point of the book. I give Deadly Doubles an 8 out of 10.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like this book was more for a commercial sale than a serious take at the Nancy Drew canon. I have to admit that this one does seem like a fun read! I enjoy your humorous reviews!!

Juliette said...

I would agree with the previous comment and say that most of the Nancy Drew Files books seem to be geared towards commercial sale. They tend to be more focused on romance than actual mystery, which is a shame. It was the first spin-off series, after all.