Once Upon a Thriller (Nancy Drew Diaries #4) by Carolyn Keene

Every other week I take a break from reading the classic Nancy Drew Mysteries to concentrate on the current series, Nancy Drew Diaries. Once Upon a Thriller is the fourth volume in the series.

Once Upon a Thriller was a classic Nancy Drew mystery. Nancy, Bess and George head to the nearby town on Avondale for a weekend of fun: staying in a cabin, hiking, swimming, canoeing, sight-seeing and more.  When they arrive in town,  a local bookstore, Paige’s Pages, is on fire. A teenager in the crowd is making a stink because famous author and recluse Lacy O’Brien was supposed to be doing a book signing later that day. This same teen also mentions that the bookstore fire is similar to one that happened in one of Lacy’s books. Was the fire an electrical problem in an old building, or was it arson? Nancy’s on the case.


After the fire, a few more funny things starts happening: a locally-famous statue disappears from the art gallery, Nancy’s wallet is missing, but later found, the girls’ canoe capsizes during a storm (seriously, when doesn’t Nancy get caught in a storm when on the water?), and all these events just so happened in Lacy O’Brien novels. 

Nancy’s got a list of suspects an arm long; despite being a well-known author, Lacy O’Brien has a lot of frenemies dating back to high school, including the bookstore owner and the B&B owner, who is also a terrible gossip.  

Nancy nearly gets run down by a mysterious black car, but the occupants stop and apologize, giving Nancy their card in case she needs anything. Nancy finds out that “Cecelia Brown” that almost ran her down is actually Lacy O’Brien and her husband, a well-known artist. Could Lacy be responsible for all these coincidences to try and boost book sales? 

Nancy pretends to be a journalist and interviews people around town about the fire and missing statue, and files her story with boyfriend Ned Nickerson, who just so happens to work at his dad’s newspaper. For some strange reason that defies journalistic integrity, Ned’s dad runs the story in the next day’s paper. (As a former journalist, this boggles the mind).

Nancy collects more clues, Bess and George return, and the culprit is caught red-handed.  Once Upon a Thriller wraps up neatly, and all is right in the Avondale world again.

Once Upon a Thriller is a solid entry in the Nancy Drew Diaries series. Some complain there isn’t enough action in this book, but I prefer a Nancy who actually tracks down clues, rather than clues just falling into her lap, which happens way too often in the original series.

Now that I’ve read the first few books, I know for sure I’m going to pick up the Nancy Drew Diaries 90th Anniversary Collection which features the first ten Nancy Drew Diaries with different artwork and comes in an attractive slipcase. I’m not a big fan of the original artwork because I think it makes Nancy appear more juvenile. This artwork is gorgeous!


For more information about my favorite sleuth, check out Jenn Fisher’s Unofficial Nancy Drew website, which has a wealth of information.

To see more Nancy Drew book reviews, click here.

This post contains affiliate links.

Or subscribe below and never miss a review. Just click the Follow button below.