Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Nancy Drew Files #9: Review
In today's book, Nancy is asked to recover a stolen diamond. She discovers it in the lost and found box.
I give Nancy Drew Files #9, False Moves, a two out of ten.
Hmmm...I guess I shouldn't end the review here. This book was published in March, 1987, one month after the previous book. You might remember that book ended with a dramatic breakup between Nancy and her longtime boyfriend, Ned Nickerson.
Well, Ned sure got over Nancy fast, because he's now dating a professional ballerina named Belinda Morrison. She's young, beautiful and successful; unlike Nancy, she pays attention to Ned and is worthy of his love. Needless to say, Nancy hates her guts.
The book opens with Nancy watching Belinda perform on national TV, while muttering nasty things about her. Belinda's dance partner is Katya Alexandrovna, who is wearing the famous Raja diamond pin. The show is interrupted when the lights go out for a minute. When the lights come back on, Katya is unconscious, and the diamond is missing.
Ned shows up on Nancy's doorstep the next day. He begs her to take the case and clear Belinda's good name. Nancy isn't thrilled about defending Ned's new girlfriend, but she decides to take the case! Personally, I think this book might have been more interesting if she stayed home and watched more TV.
This book sort of loses focus, partway through the investigation. It starts off in the normal fashion of Nancy investigating people one by one. Halfway through, the book completely gives up on that, and insists on pairing up the suspects like it's Junior Prom. Here are the three culprit couples:
Katya and Colby: Both of them are being forced into retirement this year, so not only do they need money, but they want revenge.
Ana and Andre: Their names sound similar, so they must be in cahoots.
Belinda and James: James the Manager likes Belinda so much that he gave her the lead in Giselle. Either they're up to something, or Ned has major boyfriend competition.
I know the cover indicates that Nancy runs into a topless hunk with girl shoes at one point, but this never happens. Sorry, ladies! Nancy _does_ run into a person dressed in all black, though. It's the culprit, who is in disguise, so they can break into the costume room and steal shoes.
Please note this makes little sense. Both culprits could have easily gone into the costume room, dressed normally, without raising any suspicions.
The next day, Nancy brings her new boyfriend to help investigate. He is Brad Eastman, and you know the relationship is never going to last, because Nancy insults him five times in two pages. The main problem with Brad is that he doesn't know how to solve mysteries correctly, but I dunno. Given Nancy's track record in this series, can we REALLY say that her detective methodology is foolproof?
However, the real fool here is Katya, the culprit. It turns out that Katya faked the robbery and hid the diamond inside her pointe shoe. However, she gave herself away by limping offstage on the wrong foot.
I congratulate Nancy on solving the case, but I question this mistake. Why did Katya limp on the wrong foot? Did she forget which of her legs is the weak one? How does she get an ANKLE injury from stuffing a diamond in her shoe's TOE? I thought ballerinas have superb foot control.
Part two of the plan was for Katya to swap the million-dollar shoes with an extra pair inside her purse. This plan was foiled, when Katya grabbed the wrong purse. Really? REALLY? How do you screw up a plan as simple as "put something in your purse"? When she switched shoes, how did she not notice the replacement pair was the wrong size? And did she REALLY expect to get away with hiding the diamond in her purse? If the police bothered to look into her bag, the plan would have been foiled!
Ever since Katya lost the million dollar shoes, she has been stealing every pair of shoes in the entire theater. All thirty ballerinas have five or six pairs, so Nancy figures that is over 300 pairs of shoes!
*sigh* Nancy, 6 shoes for thirty dancers is not 300 shoes. Someone get Nancy a calculator. Also, why is Katya stealing every shoe in sight? Shoes have labels! There is no reason to steal every pair of shoes in the building, if you're looking for a specific pair of Size 5 shoes.
Nancy goes to Katya and confronts her. Katya more or less admits her guilt and threatens to kill Nancy. I guess nothing interesting happened after that, because the book then skips ahead six hours. Belinda has magically learned all the parts to Giselle in under a week, and it's time for the big performance!
Nancy finds the million dollar shoes in the lost and found box, at the same time that Katy'a accomplice appears with a knife. Nancy runs backstage, and she decides it'd be safest to run through the six-inch gap behind the backdrop. You know, because that makes more sense than talking to one of the dozens of people there.
Nancy sidles over to the other side of the stage, with the culprit in pursuit. She sees Ned, and she throws the shoes to him with a football pass.
Now that the shoes are safe, it's fight time! The culprit must have lost his knife somewhere, because he gets in a big fist fight with Ned. The two of them end up onstage and interrupt the ballet by knocking over some scenery.
Belinda is SO FURIOUS with Ned for ruining her show that she dumps him right then and there. Ouch, harsh, Belinda! You shouldn't blame Ned for fighting a criminal! And besides, the show lasted for less than five minutes; you can easily restart from the beginning again.
Meanwhile, Nancy and Katya have a karate / ballet fight. I am not making this up. Nancy fights with karate moves, while Katya fights with ballet moves. Of course, Nancy wins.
Brad arrives, with the police. He called them to help protect Nancy, as soon as he saw the fights break out. Brad tells Nancy that contacting the police is what she should have done in the first place. Nancy then decides to break up with Brad, because their relationship is obviously not going to work.
I don't believe this, Nancy! You dumped your boyfriend for being worried about your safety? He has a legitimate point! There was a six-hour gap between Katya's confession and the ending scene. You had plenty of time to have Katya arrested!
Well, now that Nancy and Ned are single again, they make dinner plans, to celebrate a mystery solved. Ned kisses her on the cheek, and Nancy hopes they can be a couple again.
This book is bad, and as I said earlier, it pretty much falls apart halfway through. The culprit's plan makes no sense, and it has obvious holes in it, just so Nancy can figure out who the culprit is. In real life, the police would have caught the culprit immediately.
The romance drama in this book is a mixture of good and bad. I liked the scenes with Ned, and I liked the scenes with Belinda. But Nancy's new boyfriend, Brad? What was THAT all about? The book would honestly be better, without Nancy dating a guy she hates for no reason. He's absent for most of the book, so removing him from the story wouldn't make that much of a difference.
It's a disappointment that Nancy and Ned both find new partners, offscreen. The readers are told "Nancy has a new boyfriend now", without any explanation as to who the boyfriend is or how they started dating. That's a real letdown; I would have preferred an explanation. Nancy cheated on Ned with a couple of guys in previous books; it would have been better if she went back to one of them, instead of dating some random guy we've never heard of before.
This is not the worst Nancy Drew book ever, but I find very little to recommend it. I give Nancy Drew Files, False Moves, a 2 out of 10.