The Clue in the Diary – Nancy & her friends witness an expensive summer house explode while driving through the country. With one fell swoop, mystery, fraud & a man come into Nancy’s life. As she tries to uncover the identity & motives of a shabby stranger fleeing the scene, Ms. Drew finds herself investigating Felix Raybolt & his shady business dealings. The strongest clue lies in an abandoned diary, found near the ruins, written entirely in Swedish. Her new acquaintance, Ned Nickerson, is more than up for the challenge of helping her solve the mystery while trying to win her heart.
Nancy’s Mysterious Letter – a bag of stolen mail puts Nancy on the trail of a missing British heiress with a similar name. The race for the inheritance is on as each new clue leads Nancy to believe that Edgar Nixon, a fancy-pants con-man, is searching for the heiress as well. Having already duped a bunch of lonely women out of their money in exchange for promises to find them husbands, Nixon’s plan is to woo the British Ms. Drew out of her new fortune. With true blue friends & a working knowledge of Shakespeare, Nancy keeps her cool & sees the mystery through.
My Blather: First off, yes, if you are following along, I skipped #6 The Mystery at Red Gate Farm. It’s not in my mother’s collection & I’m only using those books for The Summer of Drew. Second, I have to call a huge continuity error out. As I wrote before, Shadow Ranch sees Nancy keeping her summer crush in check in order to remain faithful to Ned. But, Clue in the Diary gives us Ned & Nancy’s first meeting (& what a meeting it is!). & none of this, “Well, it could have happened before the other book”. Each Nancy Drew Mystery, like clockwork, has a paragraph that states the story in the previous book as having already occurred. It’s right up there with describing Nancy’s fetching good looks as well as the instigating event that will define the rest of the book.
& let’s discuss Ned Nickerson, shall we? How does he keep from becoming a complete Ken doll? He’s in a frat, he plays football, & there are no sparks when he & Nancy kiss (courtesy of our writers). One thing that keeps him from being a complete bore is that he is completely supportive of Nancy’s “work”. In Clue in the Diary, Nancy jokes about pressing him into service to which Ned quickly replies, “I’m at your service”. He then goes on to congratulate her deductive reasoning. Of course, our writers would teach us that love is a two-way street; Nancy is always there for her man too. Nancy’s Mysterious Letter gives us a detailed two chapters on Ned’s big game against State U. It’s completely extraneous but gives Nancy a chance to get caught up in a (safe) emotional whirlwind. Work off those hormones through cheering, girl!
Good Times: In Diary, Nancy visits two poorer neighbors & finds that their kitchen is nearly bare. Gathering up some money from her friends, she’s off to the grocery store to buy “a quantity of staples [as well as] many luxuries as she could afford—ice cream, a thick juicy steak, fresh fruit and vegetables, cake and an assortment of melons.” Nancy buys groceries for a week all on $10.
Like I said, the big event in Letter is Ned’s football game. While it’s difficult to capture the excitement of sports while it’s happening, this writer did pretty well outlining the plays & the excitement. For instance: “The teams lined up. Toe met ball. Good! The score stood 7-6 in favor of State U.” I want to say that Girl Sleuth said something about Mildred Wirt Benson’s passion for her local college games; I’ll have to go back & check.
That Was Easy: In Diary, Nancy locates the owner of the diary & returns it to him. She then asks him to translate it & read it out loud to her. The owner obliges, reading his most personal thoughts to a complete stranger, inserting his own regretful comments: “Oh, how foolish I was!”
In Letter, Nancy & her chicas track down Edgar Nixon’s boarding house. Not only does the landlady let them in & tell them Mr. Nixon’s business, she tells them that she received a ton of letters for him but has no forwarding address. Nancy offers to take the letters off of the landlady’s hands, only after she’s called some key character references.
Love, Nancy Drew-style: With the appearance of Ned, all we need is love. Nancy makes good on her promise to put Ned to work, having him run minor errands for her in conjunction with her case. Bess & George approve. At the end of the book, Ned tells Nancy he’ll start a diary only “if I can fill most of the pages with entries of dates with you”. Our Ms. Drew keeps him guessing by saying only, “Maybe we’ll soon find another [mystery] we can work on together”.
In Letter, Ned sticks by Nancy through thick & thin. . . & a near hit-and-run & a failed assault & a sabotaged stage curtain.
Fabulous Cash & Prizes: In Diary, Nancy receives a beautiful heirloom signet ring from the Swenson family as thanks. Wouldn’t you know it, the initial on it just happens to be a D!
In Letter, it would seem that solving the mystery & saving the other Ms. Drew from a false marriage is reward in itself. The last paragraphs tell us “The young detective always felt a vacuum in her life when this happened. But the feeling was not to last long.”