22 May 2011

Secrets Can Kill- Nancy Drew Files #1

 The Nancy Drew Files were meant to make Nancy Drew into a girl of the eighties, complete with big hair and terrible fashion choices.  The first Nancy Drew File, Secrets Can Kill, was published in 1986, and aimed at an older audience than the earlier books.  People die in these books (although never really important characters) and Nancy and Ned aren't the perfect couple they've always appeared to be.  I've always believed that the Nancy Drew Files started after she graduated from high school, since she's eighteen, even though Nancy never really went to school to begin with.  I read these books when I was a kid and to be perfectly honest, I cannot remember any specifics of the plots without reading the backs of the books or just rereading the books.  That's how good these books were.  So, let's get started with Secrets Can Kill.
Nancy Drew Files #1 Secrets Can Kill

Nancy Drew has to go undercover at a high school to help solve some thefts that have been happening at Bedford High.  For some reason (which I really don't understand, since she should have just graduated from high school herself) Nancy and Bess and George are super excited that she gets to go back to high school mainly because of the boys.  When I graduated high school I was ready to move on to college boys, but maybe I'm missing something.  Bess is currently looking for "a good diet and a great date."  (Don't forget she's the FAT one!)  And George plans on falling in love for real- no casual dating for her.  Nancy and Ned's relationship is also rehashed in the first few pages, (forgive me for the long quote, but this is hilarious)
             "Nancy and Ned had a very special relationship.  They'd known each other since they were kids, and when they'd first realized they loved each other, they'd thought it would last forever.  But neither one was ready yet for a "forever" commitment, so occasionally they drifted apart, dating other people.  Yet somehow, Nancy always found herself coming back to Ned.  They were so in tune with each other that no matter what they were doing--whether it was tracking down the clues to a mystery or planning a private party for two--it seemed that they could read each others thoughts."
I remember hating Ned in these books and their relationship only gets more irritating as the series progresses.  If they were on Facebook, their status would be "it's complicated."

Alright back to the mystery- Nancy hasn't even left the house yet to do any detecting and by the end of the first chapter, she's gotten her first threatening video tape.  But haters have never deterred Nancy before and the NDF are no different so the next morning she heads off to Bedford High.  Her student contact at the school is of course the hot guy who drives a Porsche, Daryl Gray.  Daryl's "dusky, blueberry eyes" are foreshadowing for all the problems he's going to create for Nancy and Ned.  After all who could resist any guy who wears a pink sweater in front of a burning car with such swagger?  Then Nancy meets her student suspects, Jake Webb- a video wiz who blackmails people, Walt Hogan- the football star who is acting suspicious, Carla Dalton- who doesn't like Nancy (if that's not proof she's up to no good, I don't know what is), Hal Morgan- the smart kid who cheats, and Connie- who shoplifts.  Come to find out, Carla hates Nancy because Nancy stole Daryl from her.  Not everybody's as cool with an open relationship as Ned.

While sleuthing, Nancy and Daryl are almost killed in a sabotaged car.  So they make out (everybody knows the rule- it's not cheating if you've just almost been killed).  Then Jake Webb is murdered.  Nancy figures out he's been blackmailing everyone and sending nasty videos.  And we get to meet Brenda Carlton, ace reporter, for the first time.  She's trying to scoop Nancy but they make a deal.  Later when watching Jake's incriminating tapes, Nancy finds out that Daryl is selling US secrets to the USSR!  Technically, I guess he's more of a mule who carries the secrets from Mitch Dillon (a worker at the defense plant) to the USSR diplomats.  Why they use a high schooler to do this, I have no idea and considering how it works out for them, I doubt they do either.  Nancy goes to the dance with Daryl (in all eighties teen books- SVH, ND, Canby Hall- there's always a convenient dance) and confronts him.  Daryl confesses but Ned has to save Nancy from him, and then in a weird team effort they convince him to help them trap Dillon.  It took me far too long to figure out who Dillon was during all of this.  At this point the book also started to drag...  they come up with a really hokey plan involving a park and bushes and recording equipment, which doesn't really seem like it would work but by the end they trap Dillon, even after Brenda Carlton ruins their first attempt, and Nancy saves the day. 

Secrets Can Kill establishes the template for all the other NDF books.  The rest of the books will play out more or less in this manner with different supporting characters.  Overall for the first book in the series, it wasn't that bad, but these books don't get better.  There's a reason why I don't remember any of the plots!  What's bad for the series, however, is good for this blog and a lot more fun to read about.  

Stay tuned for Nancy's next case: Deadly Intent- Case #2.
Nancy Drew File #2

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