Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Curse of the Arctic Star (Nancy Drew Diaries #1)

Curse of the Arctic Star (Nancy Drew Diaries #1)
Carolyn Keene
Simon & Schuster, 2013

Genre: Mystery


Just a few days ago, Nancy was wondering what she do for summer with her dad on a big case and Ned away at a camp acting as counselor. She was surprised when Becca Wright called her. She's a few years out of college and landed the job of assistant cruise director for the maiden voyage of the Arctic Star. She has invited Nancy and her friends aboard for free trip because of some suspicious things that have been happening. Nancy stresses to George and Bess that they can't tell anyone, including Bess's new boyfriend, college sophomore Alan Thomas, why they are really on the trip. Their cover story is that they won a contest for free tickets. There have been some troubling incidents, including threatening e-mails to not only Becca but to the celebrity star that was supposed to be on board the trip but canceled just five days before departure. He also was receiving threatening e-mails. The CEO doesn't want bad press so Becca suggested Nancy for her undercover work.

Nancy and her friends get to stay in the Hollywood suite which has its own butler and two maids. Shortly after they board a scream is heard and a bloody body is found in the pool. The lifeguard discovers that the blonde woman is actually a mannequin. Nancy looks the mannequin over and it appears to be pretty normal. George finds a bottle of cherry powder drink in the trashcan and suggests that it could've been the source of the blood. As the four of them try to find the Hollywood suite they get lost and encounter a mustached passenger, a janitor, and a cook, who all seem very anxious. When they finally make it to their suite Nancy notices that her suitcase is missing. They end meeting Iris, a maid, who gets startled by Tobias, a cranky eight-year-old brat. When Nancy finally gets to talk to Becca she's informed that the CEO is treating the mannequin as nothing more than a prank and that there are rumors going around the housekeeping staff that the company is going bankrupt and no one will get paid. The e-mails that Becca was receiving all told her to back out of the trip. Becca informs Nancy of some of the other mysterious happenings.

When Nancy returns to her room she finds her suitcase. She finds it odd that she saw the porter put a purple tag on it and it now is sporting a yellow one. As Nancy gets ready for dinner she finds a note in her bag. In all caps it says, “I HOPE U GET LOST JUST LIKE UR BAG--& THAT U STAY LOST!” Nancy begins to worry that her cover has been blown but who would possibly want to threaten her? At dinner she meets three old women who like to call themselves the ABCs (Alice, Babs, and Coral) and a honeymooning couple named Vince and Lacey. Lacey is the one who found the mannequin body earlier that morning. The ladies make a comment on how they can't believe how much Lacey looks like a girl who used to work for Jubilee Cruise Lines. Nancy discovers that a film crew has been hired to shoot footage for future ads. She wonders if they might have caught any evidence from the pool incident on tape.

The next morning the girls wake up early to see if they can find any additional clues. They end up inside the cafeteria kitchen where they see the mustached passenger once again in a place where passengers aren't allowed. Alan eventually finds them and drags them to mini golf. A member of the film crew wants to get Nancy on tape so he has her stand in front of a gigantic moose. While he's setting up the camera Nancy senses something and leaps out of the way just as the moose's antler falls right where she was standing. Nancy's arm gets cut. George climbs on top of the moose and discovers that the screws holding the antlers on appear to have been purposely loosened. Nancy doubts that it was an accident—more likely more sabotage.

Nancy begins to look for suspects but it appears that there are too many passengers that have too many motives but not enough evidence to point to anyone in particular. Later during lunch Nancy sees Coral reach into the buffet and faint. Tobias’s tarantula, Hazel, was in the food. He admits to sneaking the spider on board but says that he had absolutely nothing to do with putting her in the buffet because she could've died and he would not endanger like that. Later that night various passengers begin to complain about the temperature control systems going haywire. Nancy thinks about the saboteur and decides that if he was going to strike again he would strike where the people are. However, she's going to have to put off investigating for one day as Alan is determined to get the girls to go off the boat on an excursion today.

Nancy separates herself from the rest of the gang and ends up on a boardwalk high above the Ketchikan Creek. A young girl from a huge family reunion comes running down the bridge. Nancy backs up into the railing to get out of her way. She catches a fluttering of movement behind her as something slams into the back of her knees and she suddenly goes flying into the creek below. Alan, Bess, and George come out of the gift shop right at the perfect time to see Nancy fall. She lands in deep water but clings to a rock while Alan calls for help.

They head back to the boat before everyone else and are informed by Becca that the big chandelier in the main ballroom has crashed down. Becca has been busy trying to clean up the room and reschedule all the events that were scheduled there. They tell Becca about a number of their suspicions but she cancels out a lot of them with reasonable explanations. George suggests that they bring in the ABCs to act as junior detectives since they seem to know everything about cruising. Nancy thinks for a moment and then announces that she's figured out who the saboteur is. She heads off to the gym where Vince and Lacey said they spent the entire day aboard the ship. She asks the attendant about her “friends” and he says that the only person that was there the entire day was the mustached passenger. They had towards the spa where Vince and Lacey said they were headed next and text Becca to meet them there. Nancy recalled what the ABCs had said about Lacey having a twin aboard the Jubilee Cruise Line. What if Lacey did indeed work for the company? What better way to sabotage the new superior competition?

Nancy and friends are just-in-time to catch Vince and Lacey pouring something mysterious into product bottles. Nancy counts the evidence against them: They notified everyone of the mannequin, they were on board when the chandelier fell, they mentioned that Iris was their maid yet she was snooping in Nancy's hallway, Iris would have access to grabbing the spider and messing with the temperature controls. Vince admits that they were working for the vice president of Jubilee who hates the CEO of the Arctic Star because he believes her to be a traitor to the company. They said that they sent the e-mail warnings to warn Becca off the boat since the vice president likes her grandfather, who worked for Jubilee for years. They say though that they had nothing to do with Nancy's accidents. Nancy wonders if they are correct because she realizes that they probably couldn't have planted the note in her suitcase. Arriving back on the boat after talking with the police, the girls hear Becca and the captain shouting. The ship’s jewelry store was just robbed and since Vince and Lacey are now in police custody something else is clearly going on. Nancy doesn't think that they're quite ready you to relax and enjoy the cruise just yet.

Thoughts and Nuggets of Wisdom for Research

The awesome thing about this book is that it is yet another re-launching of the Nancy Drew canon. I love the cover art as it has a fun, manga-like feel to it. The other thing that I really like about the new launch of the series is that (a) it sends Nancy back to her roots (i.e., she’s older) and (b) the stories are no longer self-contained “villain of the week” mysteries—there is clear continuation from one book to the next. One of my teens, Sarah, who loved Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys had me order these new re-launches for the library’s teen section. She’s read the first book and loved it.

In terms of research, sadly there isn’t much to help. This might actually be a good thing in a way—meaning a lot of the bad elements about Nancy in the past are gone. For an example, since Nancy is on a cruise she encounters porters. The description of the man (“The Porter smiled. He was a short, muscular man dressed in a tidy Navy jacket with silver piping and matching shorts, with a name tag identifying him as James” [p. 1]) is a far cry from what would have appeared in a 1930s Nancy—a description which would have assumed the man to be an illiterate black man.

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