The Hidden Staircase: Nancy Drew Mystery Stories, #2 -- Carolyn Keene
Okay, in The Hidden Staircase, we learn that Nancy gardens, is good with tools, knows how to glean information from footprints in the mud and has read up on hidden passageways and secret doors. She also knows how to deal with a wild owl in the house, of all things. She still loves speeding -- what's the point of having a new blue convertible if you don't participate in a few car chases?
She also has the amazing ability to determine a very detailed judgment of a person's character after a two-minute conversation:
Nancy had taken an instant dislike to Gomber and now it was quadrupled. She judged him to be the kind of person who stays within the boundaries of the law but whose ethics are questionable.
I mean, really.
In a flash, Nancy was out the back door and running to meet her father. "Oh, Dad, I'm so glad to see you!" she exclaimed.
She gave him a tremendous hug and a resounding kiss. He responded affectionately, but gave a little chuckle. "What have I done to rate this extra bit of attention?" he teased. With a wink he added, "I know. Your date for tonight is off and you want me to substitute."
A) Tell Nancy about the case.
B) Ask all of the reader's questions, no matter how obvious and lame.
C) Get dirty. She's the one who opens the damper in the fireplace and gets all sooty, falls through the hole in the old stable, and gets covered in plaster when the ceiling collapses. (Nancy, romantically, gets knocked out during the ceiling collapse episode. No mention of dust mussing up her titian hair.)
D) Be the boy. When Nancy and Helen dress up in old costumes to entertain the old ladies with an old-fashioned dance, Helen has to be the boy.
"...the delicious dinner of spring lamb, rice and mushrooms, fresh peas and chocolate angel cake with vanilla ice cream..."
"...steak and French friend potatoes, fresh peas, and yummy floating island for dessert..."
"...cup of steaming chicken bouillon, a thin slice of well-toasted bread, and a saucer of plain gelatin."
When the man did not reply, Miss Skade said, "Now look, Harry. This girl's afraid that her father has been kidnaped. It's up to you to tell her all you know."
"Kidnaped!" the taximan shouted. "Oh, goodnight! Now I don't know what to do."
Nancy had a sudden thought. "Has somebody been threatening you, Harry?" she asked.
The cab driver's eyes nearly popped from his head. "Well," he said, "since you've guessed it, I'd better tell you everything I know."
With comedy like that, who needs realism?