Like the first book, The Bungalow Mystery revolves around an inheritance. But this one is much more complicated (it might take three or four brain cells to solve, rather than one or two), involving stolen bearer bonds, a kidnapping, stolen identities, and a sack of jewels.
• Nancy begins her adventure on vacation. On vacation from what, I don’t know.
• Nancy, you bad girl! She doesn’t wear a life preserver – in fact, she and Helen Corning go out for a jaunt in a motorboat without even bothering to be sure that they have a couple stowed in the event of an emergency.
• Nancy has taken a class in auto mechanics, always carries an emergency overnight bag in her car (Slut!), volunteers regularly, her tennis game is “terrific”, she is able to pick flattering clothes out for other people, and she knows how to escape rope bonds (she learned from a detective).
• Nancy is also an excellent swimmer with a “powerful crawl”. She seems to be fond of surface dives, which she uses to find Helen Corning after their boat sinks during a freak storm, because Helen’s arms have inexplicably stopped working. (The explanation is that she “bumped them” when the boat hit a log, but the second they reach land, her arms are fine, so I don’t buy it.)
• While I wouldn’t quite chalk the ridiculous coincidences in this series up to deus ex machina, there has to be some sort of middle ground term that isn’t coming to mind. At the very least, all of the coincidences together should count as one big DEM:
Just as Nancy is about to succumb to exhaustion while towing Helen the armless wonder back to shore, a girl in a rowboat comes along to rescue them. Not only had she been walking the beach during the storm (because she liked to do that), but she just happened to hear their cries for help and just happened to have lost her father to drowning so she just had to rescue the girls and then, upon hearing their names, just happened to need Nancy’s help. That’s just in the first ten pages. We don’t even need to go into the fact that Nancy’s case just happens to be the same as El Sketch-o Carson’s case. At this point, that’s pretty much a given, even though we’re only three books into the series.
• The Stratemeyer Syndicate continues to love exclamation points. As far as I’m concerned, they used up their allowance for the next three books in the first chapter alone. I counted seven on one page. SEVEN. !!!!!!!
• Nancy becomes suspicious of the bad guys when they make a point of mentioning their adoptee’s lack of money – she is surprised that they would discuss money matters with a virtual stranger. Interesting that that never has bothered her before – she totally took it in stride in the last two books. For that matter, I think that Nancy might be a tad guilty of failing to allow for a little bit of variety in human personalities:
Nancy drove away, but told herself they would bear further investigation. It seemed unnatural that they would not have told what parts they were playing.
She hasn’t even met them and she thinks they’re acting “unnatural”. Good, Nanc.
• You can always spot the bad guys and gals by their rudeness. If you still aren’t sure, they’re the ones driving the foreign car (which is, of course, black):
“That’s the end of my story,” he said, “except to tell you, Aborn, I sold your blue sedan this morning. The money helped pay for my new foreign car.”
• Impressively, Nancy once again converts a bad guy:
”Thanks, Miss Drew. And I want to tell you I’m tired of this whole business. You’re only a kid but you’ve really taught me a lesson.”
• Nancy receives a frightening phone call – the caller manages to ask for Nancy, then gasps, there is a crash, a thump and the phone is slammed down. She tells her father what happened. Carson’s response?
”Well, dear, I must run down to the office.”
• Why, if Carson is such a big-time lawyer, is he doing what basically amounts to private investigator work? He’s so lame. If he got in a fight with Keith Mars, Keith would totally wipe the floor with him. As for that, it totally makes sense to me that Veronica Mars helps her dad out on his cases – they have money problems, etc. But I have no idea why Carson Drew, Mr. Rich Guy, keeps asking Nancy for help. It makes no sense. Also, Keith is a gazillion times more protective than Carson – he at least tries to keep Veronica from doing anything dangerous. Carson, though: “Sure, honey – no problem – why don’t you go out and snoop around the supposedly violent alleged embezzlers? Let me know what you turn up. Oh, and make sure you go alone.”
Maybe he secretly bumped off her mom and he’s trying to get rid of her, too, so that he and Hannah Gruen can finally give into their forbidden passion.
• A couple of hotties in this one – one is the helpful neighbor of the kidnapped man, one is an old high school friend of Nancy’s – actually, she’d gone to the Spring Prom with him. Apparently, Ned doesn't appear until Book Eight or so. I'm waiting with bated breath.
• While Book Two highlighted the utter crappiness of Nancy’s local police force, Book Three provides evidence that they do have one thing going for them: response time. Nancy calls them to report an intruder in her house and despite the fact that River Heights is apparently crime-ridden (judging from the last three books) they’re there within five minutes. When they realize that the intruder is, in fact, Carson Drew, everyone has a good laugh over the mix-up.
• Never one to be content with only solving the mysteries, re-uniting the adoptee with her real adoptive parents AND saving the bad guys from a car crash, Nancy throws herself under the burning wreckage to rescue the bearer bonds, too, thus assuring the adoptee’s status as an independently wealthy young woman. Mere seconds after she pulls the suitcases from the car, it explodes. It was a gripping moment.
• She’s eventually going to need to add a wing to her house – so far, she’s been given the Old Clock, a silver urn and an aquamarine ring. I wonder what she’ll get at the end of The Mystery of Lilac Inn…