Deadly Intent

Deadly Intent (The Nancy Drew Files #2) by Carolyn Keene

Background Information:

It’s been a couple of years since we reviewed one of this mysteries, so let me do a bit of background information.

So this series began in the ’80s and have some updates from the original series. Nancy Drew originally was a 16 year-old, high schooler, an amateur detective, but in this version she has been aged up to 18, and a high school graduate. She still lives in River Heights, IL and is in a long distance relationship with Ned Nickerson, who is a student at Emerson College.

Her friends are still cousins Bess Marvin and George Fayne; Bess being the beautiful blonde shopaholic who is always eating and George the super athlete in every way. Instead of a blue roadster, in this book she gets a blue mustang convertible.

One of the best things I love in this series are the clothes, the author (as Carolyn Keene is a pseudonym), always gives great detail to what she wears. I’m totally going to add a special section at the end.

One other thing that this series does a little differently is that every book cover has a handsome guy on it, someone who appears in the book. Some people hate that, but I always think of it as a fun guessing game as we try and figure out which of the characters it is.

Hmmm…

Another thing this book series does,  as it is a “case file”, there is a little information sheet at the very beginning. Sometimes the suspects mentioned turn out to be who did it, while other times the person whodonit is someone Nancy never saw coming.

ASSIGNMENT:Find a missing rock star-Bent Fender’s lead guitarist, Barton Novak, who disappeared suddenly after telling Nancy he had something important to tell her.

CONTACT: Roger Gold, Bent Fender’s drummer, whose father is a friend of Carson Drew’s.

SUSPECTS: 

  • Ann Nordquist, the group’s agent. She may have decided that ten percent isn’t enough. Maybe she’s going for it all.
  • Harold Marshall, the producer of Fender’s hit records. Could he also be producing pirate editions of those same tunes?
  • Dave Peck, a friend of Ned Nickerson’s, with a mysterious new job, and lots of cash to flash around.
  • Alan Wales, Bess Marvin’s new boyfriend, who’d give anything to be a success in the rock world. How far is he willing to go?

COMPLICATIONS: How do you prove there has been a kidnapping when there’s no ransom note? And how do you investigate a case when all the clues lead straight to your best friend’s boyfriend? But Nancy has to hang in there. Barton’s life is in danger-and before the case is over, so is hers!

Nancy has just finished her last case Secrets Can Kill, and is ready for some fun and relaxation. Her father, Carson Drew,  was college roommates with Sy Gold, who’s son is Roger Gold-drummer for Bent Fender. Carson is working on the band’s contract and in return, Nancy: George, Bess, and Alan all get to see the concert for free.

They hang out with the band before the show, talking about music and the like. Alan gets his dream wish as he plays with the group. Barton tells Nancy that he needs to talk to her about something strange he has discovered. They have to go and get ready, but Barton tells her they will talk after the show.

Hmm…

The band bursts back into the room with the shocking news that Barton has disappeared. Was he kidnapped or did he just take off again from the stress of fame?

The rest of the band think he just took off, but Roger is convinced that it is different this time. This concert is a special one, Rock for Relief, for handicapped kids, just like his sister. Roger knows he wouldn’t back out on this one. Not to mention he’s totally been into the music, so focused on the contract as he feels they are losing out on royalties.

Alan goes on stage in Barton’s place while Nancy does a bit on investigating. She discovers that two “roadies” no one knew took off with a large box-a box big enough to hide a person. Nancy also finds a wallet that matches one of the roadies rings, with a big L-shaped dragon. She then gets knocked out.

She wakes up with the concert over and the wallet missing. But even with that that she is on the case.

The next day Bess and Alan go to the label that carries Bent Fender to see if they will pick him up too. Nancy heads over with her father to speak to Ann Nordquist, the group’s agent. She is a very nice woman, just recently returned from China. She reassures the two that there is no cutting or dipping being done on her end. She thinks that Barton just didn’t understand the process it takes for the money to get into a  musician’s pocket.

Hmm…

Nancy then goes to see Harold Marshall, the producer, who is an angry bear of a man. He claims that it was all a stunt to sell records Bent Fender, just like Abbey Road and the rumor that Paul McCartney was dead. He also tells Nancy that there is no way they are signing wannabe no talent Alan.

Like that will happen.

Nancy knows that whoever attacked her was dead serious and there is a lot more to this case than meets the eye. She’s definitely not giving up. Even weirder, Alan does get signed onto the label, and Alan saw Barton in Marshall’s office with his famous paisley scarf made by his sister and he confirmed that he was hiding out.

Hmm…

Nancy is confused at what is going on but then gets a note from Carl Rutland, a security guard, at the music hall. He found Barton’s paisley scarf-which means Alan was lying. But why?

Hmmm…

Ned calls Nancy and is very concerned about everything, joining her to help keep her safe.

Yes that is Rick Springfield. He played Ned in the Christmas episode which you can check out on Netflix or youtube.

Nancy and George are worried about Bess, and try to track her down but miss her along the way. They do discover something fishy going on with Marshall’s secretary Vivian, she’s messing around with the masters of the records-the originals.

Hmm…

After this point it is cause for more research and Nancy and George go to Jefferson Market Library.

They find out more about pirating records, China of course being the country that never follows copyright laws. The same country that Ann just returned from.

Another surprising twist, Ann has been dating Carson, could her father be dining a killer?

What?!

Later that night at the club. Bess and Nancy get in a fight as Nancy questions Alan. Bess is determined to stand by her man and not Nancy.

You’ve barely been dating while have been friends forever with Nancy.

After the fight, Nancy and Ned head out and go for a walk. They run into Dave Peck, someone Ned knew from Emerson, but was expelled from stealing from the record store he worked at. He has a Chinese connection and makes a lot of cash, somehow.

Hmmm…

The next night they are at the Bent Fender concert, when the lights fizz out and Bess is kidnapped. Now the stakes are higher than ever as Nancy needs to solve this case now! Before Bess and Barton end up dead.

Outfits-

George Fayne’s concert outfit, imagine this in all black:

Thoughts After Reading:

Loved it! From beginning to end.

Nancy’s next case:

Another thing I loved about these mysteries is that they were designed like TV episodes. They always made sure to leave you with a little preview of what will come next:

Nancy’s next case:

Nancy thinks a romantic ski vacation with Ned will solve their problems, but she’s in for a big–maybe fatal–shock! First comes a new case–matching wits with a dangerous killer. Then George falls in love with the chief suspect, a tight-lipped ski instructor with a murky, murderous past. A midnight chase down a stormy, sleet-covered slope may help Nancy put an end to the terror. Or will it become a lethal pursuit that puts an end to Nancy Drew?

Find out in MURDER ON ICE–Case #3 in The Nancy Drew Files,™ available in September.

For more Nancy Drew Files, go to Secrets Can Kill

For more disappearances, go to The Secret Adversary

For more kidnappings, go to Gates of Thread and Stone

Secrets Can Kill

Where I live, school starts tomorrow, so I thought what better way to get “back to school” than with a school centered mystery.

Secrets Can Kill (The Nancy Drew Files #1) by Carolyn Keene

So I know most people started with the original Nancy Drew books, but I never grew up reading those. My first introduction to Nancy Drew was The Nancy Drew Files. And of course, the TV show.

In fact, I was first introduced to Nancy Drew by accident. I was looking for a Sweet Valley High book to read and someone had mis-shelved a Nancy Drew Files. 

I first was interested in Nancy Drew when I picked up a copy on accident, as it was mis-shelved with Sweet Valley High. 

Why not try it out?

I read it and loved it and immediately wanted to read the whole series.

Unfortunately, when I started reading them, they were out of print and the library only had a few books in the series. It then became a treasure hunt as I tried to find copies in thrift stores and library book sales.

Background Information:

So this series began in the ’80s and have some updates from the original series. Nancy Drew originally was a 16 year-old, high school, amateur detective, but in this version she has been aged up to 18, and a high school graduate.

She still lives in River Heights, IL and is in a long distance relationship with Ned Nickerson, who is a student at Emerson College.

Yes that is Rick Springfield. He played Ned in the Christmas episode which you can check out on Netflix or youtube.

Her friends are still cousins Bess Marvin and George Fayne; Bess being the beautiful blonde shopaholic who is always eating and George the super athlete in every way. Instead of a blue roadster, in this book she gets a blue mustang convertible.

One of the best things I love in this series are the clothes, the author (as Carolyn Keene is a pseudonym), always gives great detail to what she wears. I’m totally going to add a special section at the end.

One other thing that this series does a little differently is that every book cover has a handsome guy on it, someone who appears in the book. Some people hate that, but I always think of it as a fun guessing game as we try and figure out which of the characters it is.

Hmm…

Another thing this book series does, is that since it is a “case file” there is a little information sheet at the very beginning. Sometimes the suspects mentioned turn out to be who did it, while other times the person whodoneit is someone Nancy never saw coming.

ASSIGNMENT:To pose as a student, go undercover, and investigate a series of thefts at Bedford High.

CONTACT: Daryl Gray, a gorgeous senior with sexy, blueberry colored eyes and an instant attraction to Nancy.

 SUSPECTS: 

  • Jake Webb, a genuine creep who seems to have something on half the kids at school.
  • Walt “Hunk” Hogan, the tough football captain who’s acting strangely paranoid.
  • Carla Dalton, who hates Nancy on sight. Mere jealousy–or something more sinister?
  • Hal Morgan, the class “brain” who Nancy catches cheating on a test.

COMPLICATIONS: There’s more going on at this school than meets the eye. Much more. If Nancy isn’t careful, she could get herself into serious trouble…She could get herself killed.

Nancy thinks this will be a simple job, a few rooms at the school have been broken into, one or two things were stolen. The police can’t do anything as the fingerprints don’t match any of the adults, and the offenses are so minor.

The principal turned to Nancy to pretend to be a student and search who did it, as it is most likely a student. She bought new clothes, will take some easy classes, etc. However, things take a dark turn quickly.

After her shopping trip with Bess she discovers a VHS on her porch. When she puts it in to watch, she sees HERSELF!

What?!

Someone videotaped her, which means whoever she is out to investigate, knows who she is.

The next day, Nancy gets into a race with a handsome guy. When she goes to see the principal and report for her job, it turns out that her contact to know who she really is, is the guy she was racing!

He’s cute!

Daryl Gray is cool, handsome, rich the student body president, and drives a porsche. He and Nancy spend a LOT of time together, and things start heating up between them…

Smirkity smirk smirk

Nancy starts investigating and discovers that they call the strange happenings in the school “the ghost”.

As she searches further she discovers this case involves a kleptomaniac, hidden injuries, false test scores, blackmail, cut brake lines, and espionage!

Nancy figures out who the is responsible for the break ins, but when she goes to confront them the next day-they turn out to be dead! Will Nancy solve the mystery or turn out to be next?

Outfits-

This book doesn’t have as many as later ones do. There is one that caught my eye, when Nancy goes to the dance near the end of the novel. I always imagine her in something like this:

And let’s not forget the cover, I love the purple leather jacket and would totally wear that of I could find one.

Thoughts After Reading:

Loved it! From beginning to end. It had a great twist I didn’t see coming as well.

Nancy’s next case:

Another thing I loved about these mysteries is that they were designed like radio shows and TV episodes. They always made sure to leave you with a little preview of what will come next:

Nancy’s next case:

When she investigates a rock star’s mysterious disappearance, Nancy once again finds herself probing perilous secrets! Her only lead takes her straight to Bess’ new boyfriend. What is he hiding? Finding out my kill her friendship with Bess. But not finding out may kill the kidnapped rock star–with Nancy and her friends next on the hit list.

Can Nancy survive the dark side of the rock scene? Find out in DEADLY INTENT–Case #2 in The Nancy Drew Files,™ available now!

For more Nancy Drew, go to Betty and Veronica: Stranger Than Fiction

For more private investigators, go to Sam the Cat: Detective

For more female private investigators, go to B is for Burglar

For more ’80s mysteries, go to C is for Corpse

For more undercover mysteries, go to The Hyde Park Murder

For more espionage, go to The Manchurian Candidate

A is for Alibi

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A is for Alibi (Kinsey Millhone Mysteries #1) by Sue Grafton

So before I begin the review let me first say how upset I am at Sue Grafton. I’m signed up for all her news updates, but I received nothing about the newest addition to the series, X.

seriously

I was first was introduced to this series when I was reading an Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, seven years ago. One of the books they recommended was J is for Judgement.

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Not too long after I found the book at a library sale, but after I bought it I realized it was part of a series.

So I decided the only way to read it would be to start from the beginning, with A is for Alibi.

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So the book takes place in the ’80s.

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Kinsey Millhone is thirty-two year old, twice divorced, no kids, private investigator living in Santa Teresa (parody of Santa Barbara), CA.

Every book starts off with this short piece of info and the closing remarks to her case. We then flashback to the actual mystery.

flashback

Nikki Fife was convicted of her husband’s murder eight years. She believes herself to be wrongfully accused and wants to hire Kinsey to find out who actually murdered him.

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Nikki first became involved with her deceased husband when she was his mistress. She was married to him for four years, of which he was only faithful for six months. Nikki said that at first she was angry and listened in phone calls, followed him around, wrote down every infidelity; but by the time he had been murdered; Nikki didn’t care anymore. She just wanted to move forward with her life.

As Kinsey looks into Nikki’s case, she discovers that an accountant named Libby Glass, twenty-four, also died from ingesting ground oleander four days after Laurence Fife died. The police couldn’t tie the two cases together at the time. Libby’s boyfriend Lyle Abernathy believes that she was seeing some “Santa Teresa attorney”.

Who done it?

Who done it?

Kinsey starts questioning and looking in the case; from the cute laywer Charlie Scorsoni, Gwen Fife the ex-wife, Lawrence’s two children, and Nikki’s deaf son Colin.

WhoDoneIt?

As Kinsey continues to investigate she discovers that there are a lot of questions and a killer that most definitely does not want to be caught.

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Thoughts After Reading:

I thought this was a good introductory novel. Kinsey was an interesting, different, and fun character. After I read it, I eagerly wanted to read the next books in the series.

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I thought the book did have a few issues. It was easily solvable and Kinsey made one huge mistake. Getting involved with a possible suspect never turns out well.

bigmistake

But otherwise I really enjoyed the book.

likeit

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For more private investigators, go to Murder and Other Unnatural Disasters

More ’80s books, go to The Dollhouse Murders

The Dollhouse Murders

thedollhousemurders

The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright

So unlike most people who have read this book, I didn’t read this as a child but as an adult. This book was recommended to me on goodreads quite a few times. The first time I saw it I thought it was a book I had read as a child of a girl playing with dolls, and in essence whatever she makes the dolls do, happens in real life. In that book she continues to play rough with her dolls, making them cruel to each other, and in doing so turns the people she loves into monsters.

bad decision

She eventually realizes this and tries to destroy the dollhouse, being stopped by her mom or aunt (I don’t remember which) who gives it away to her cousin.

This was not that book.

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Yes this is a completely different book, as I discovered once I read the synopsis.

So this book was published in the early ’80s and definitely has that nostalgic feel. The girls are out wherever they want and their parents don’t care as long as they are back before dark. They listen to tapes, watch TV from the cable shows and have a sleepover that involves hanging out, telling fortunes, gossiping, etc. No internet, cellphones, snapchat, instagram, etc.

bringback80s

So our main character is 12-year old Amy. Amy lives in a suburb of Chicago, (and no this is not a John Hughes movie), with her parents and her younger, mentally disabled, sister Louann. Amy is stressed and unhappy about always having to take care of Louann. It has destroyed friendships, as some girls feel uncomfortable around Louann or dislike her differences; either way Amy finds herself losing potential friends and just having to spend more time with Louann.

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She and her new friend Ellen have to take Louann with them to mall, and it doesn’t turn out well. After Louann runs away, destroys a floral arrangement, and gets the girls yelled at; coupled with Amy’s new friend Ellen canceling their plans (presumably because of Louann), Amy’s had it with her sister.

arghfliptablesangry

She needs some freedom from being Louann’s keeper. When she tells her mom this, the two get in a fight and Amy runs away. She runs all the way to the edge of town where her Aunt Clare currently lives.

Aunt Clare is her father’s sister, and was living and working in Chicago. When she was fired from her job, she returned home to clean out her grandparents’ old house to sell it. She listens to Amy’s views and asks her parents if she can stay for a while and keep her company. They agree, but Louann is unhappy to lose Amy.

Amy is estatic to finally have freedom

Lordoftherings LifeisGood

But discovers something unsettling about the house. It feels as if it has a dark cloud over it.

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Amy discovers a beautiful dollhouse in the attic. And when she asks Aunt Clare about it, she gets the family backstory.

When Clare was 15 and Amy’s father was 2, their parents died in a car crash. The two were sent to live with their grandparents, as they had money and lots of room. Amy’s father did all right, but Clare was constantly clashing with the grandparents. She wanted to be treated as an adult, but they wanted her to stay a child. Hence, they gave a fifteen year old a dollhouse. An exquisitely carved dollhouse that is a replica of the house, has miniature everything you could ever hope for, and has four dolls that are beautiful copies of the family members. Even still, it is a dollhouse and for Clare it was uncool. Three years later, the grandparents also died in a car accident, and the two kids were sent to live with an uncle. As soon as Clare graduated, she left for Chicago and hasn’t returned to the house since.

Amy is intrigued and wants to know more, but Clare does not want to discuss the house at all, becoming very upset over the whole thing.

That'sOdd

Ellen is soon invited over and loves the dollhouse as much as Amy does. The two play with it for a while, interrupted by Clare’s baking of fudge. They run down to the kitchen, with Amy realizing that she left the house open. Not wanting it to get dusty on the inside, she runs upstairs. When she gets there, she sees something shocking.

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The grandma doll isn’t where she left it, but in a entirely different room!

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She is called by Ellen and Clare, and shakes off that idea. Dolls moving? Must have been seeing things.

The three of them end up planning a pizza-birthday party for the two girls, as they turn 13 within a week of each other.

After Ellen leaves, Amy asks Clare more questions about the grandparents’ death. Clare however, becomes angry and defensive not answering anything.

That'sOdd

This causes Amy to decide to do some digging of her own. She and Ellen head to the library and start looking through old papers to discover what happened to her grandparents. When they are searching they find an article about them being murdered!

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Yes Clare lied! They were murdered!

Sabrina the teenage witch salem dum di dum dum dum

One night, Clare returned home from the movies and discovered the dead bodies of her grandfather and grandmother. Both were shot, the grandfather upstairs in his bedroom, and the grandmother in the parlor. Amy’s father was initially not found, and many believed him to have been kidnapped, until they discovered the five-year-old asleep in the closet. Valuables were stolen, so the cops believed it was a burglary gone wrong. They never caught the killer.

Another interesting tidbit Amy finds, is that Clare’s boyfriend of the time, Tom, was killed that night as well in a car accident.

Whoa

That night Amy calls Ellen and fills her in. Unfortunately, Clare hears her and becomes very angry, yelling at Amy for her insensitivity. Later Clare yells at Amy again, as she has discovered the dolls in the exact way her family members were on the night of the murder.

Amy is flabbergasted.

What?

She knows she and Ellen put the dolls in the dining room around the table. Besides, she just learned about the murders, there would have been no way she could have made it into the attic and do that. That means…

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THE DOLLS ARE MOVING BY THEMSELVES!

Crap

The only question? Why.

Amy and Clare make up, but Amy is now frightened of the attic and does all she can to stay out.

Amy goes home to get a few things for the party, when it is accidentally is slipped and now Louanne wants to come too. Amy doesn’t want her to come as she wants a day focused on her, and she doesn’t want to worry about anyone. She gets into another fight with her mom.

good-byeNeverwantyouinmylifeHomeAlone

At Aunt Clare’s, they start getting things ready for the party. Clare sends Amy upstairs to the attic to get some bedding so Ellen can stay over. The light went out so Clare gives Amy a flashlight.

Sabrina the teenage witch salem dum di dum dum dum

Upstairs, Amy goes to get a blanket when she sees a light coming from the attic and hears something!

Ahh-1

And runs downstairs.

The next day is the day of the party. Evey thing seems to be going smoothly, until Amy finds out that her mother had to go out of town and couldn’t find a sitter, so she left Louann at Aunt Clare’s. Amy is furious, as she knows Louann will ruin the party. To her surprise everything turns out perfect. All the girls have fun, they treat Louann like any other normal person; with the party going on for hours. That night the girls go to bed, with Louann and Amy sharing a room.

Amy wakes up at 3 in the morning and discovers Louann missing!

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She runs up the attic, as she knows Louann loves the dollhouse. When she gets there she finds Louann, a weird light coming from the dollhouse, and hears someone crying. So does Louann. Amy gets scared and the two go back to their room.

The next day, all three girls go for a hike with Amy telling Ellen everything that happened. She resolves to go up to the attic this very night and watching the whole event, in the hopes that she might discover why this is happening.

KeepCalmSleuthOn

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Thoughts after reading:

This was a very cute and interesting mystery. At first I wasn’t sure as young adult fiction can really be hit or miss.

I loved the character of Amy as I think the author not only accurately portrayed a preteen girl, but a preteen girl having to take care of her disabled sister. It didn’t make Amy seem evil, rude; but just a regular girl trying to figure out her identity and who she is.

The mystery was actually pretty thrilling as the author keeps you guessing until the end. When the true story was revealed about the death of the grandparents, it made me wonder…was Aunt Clare involved with the murder? Was that the real reason she hated the dollhouse? You have to read it to find out.

I highly recommend this book for preteens and even for adults if you are feeling nostalgic.

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For more reviews of mystery novels, go to Lane Changes