Friday is the day I set aside to go over the children’s books I collected as a child and adult. I started off with my favorite Nancy Drew Mysteries, and realized I should see how my favorite sleuth was faring in the modern world. So I decided to read the Nancy Drew Diaries, the series currently in print. This week, we’re up to volume six, Secret at Mystic Lake.
From the publisher: “To celebrate her birthday, George is taking Nancy and Bess on a three-day bike tour around the scenic Mystic Lake. They can’t wait to spend time exploring the gorgeous landscape by day and camping under the stars at night. What they didn’t count on was sabotage!”
There are only a few other people on the 3-day bike tour, Caitlin and Henry, the college age co-leaders who also happen to be twins. Caitlin is super Type A, a perfectionist in everything she does, and is working this summer to pay for her books to attend Yale in the fall; Henry is laid back and just goes with the flow, saying instead of college he’s going to travel for half the year. Then there’s Zoe, a teen who was roped in to the tour by a friend, who then caught mono. Since her deposit wasn’t refundable, Zoe decided to stick it out, although she’d rather be at home watching Project Runway and giving herself a manicure. Sort of like Bess, who takes an instant shine to her. Then there’s Dagger, a middle-aged man with a positive attitude, but rather mysterious, too.
The first day, while stopping to eat a meal and rest, the group’s tents are stolen. And of course, it rains that night. You can always count on it raining in a Nancy Drew novel. And with only one tent (Zoe packed an extra) and a tarp for Caitlin and Henry, it’s a long wet night.
In the morning, it is discovered that the food is missing. And Caitlin is missing. Dagger claims to have heard Henry and Caitlin arguing, but Henry denies it. Nancy’s spidey-sense is busy trying to figure out the who, what and why of this sabotage.
No one can agree on a plan of action, but finally, after spending some time searching for Caitlin, the group agrees to head to the ranger station located somewhere along Mystic Lake. The reason why no one can call for help is that cell service is sketchy around the lake, and the satellite phone that Caitlin mentioned she had in case of emergencies can’t be found. The hand-drawn map the group is relying on to find the ranger station is badly drawn, and soon the group is lost.
Nancy and her chums don’t so much as look for clues in Secret at Mystic Lake, rather than survive in the wild. What surprised me, and of course, it wouldn’t be a good plot device without it, is how remote Mystic Lake is. I mean, the group is on a bike tour put on by a company, who supposedly have done this type of tour before. So if the tour is popular, if riding or hiking around Mystic Lake is so popular, why don’t Nancy and company come across any people? Okay, okay, it’s a kids book, so I’ll suspend my disbelief for the sake of a plot device.
After another break, the group finds all their bike tires slashed. Who on earth could be doing all this sabotage? It has to be someone from the group, right? Because now they’re lost in the woods so who would know where they were? Nancy has it narrowed down to Dagger or Henry, because they both seemed untruthful and mysterious with answers when asked, and some suspicious behaviors.
The group makes camp for the second night, and sometime in the night Nancy has to get up to use the bathroom (and I do have to say, for a book, there’s frequent mentions of bathroom breaks. It’s refreshing to have real life stuff in the books, because don’t you wonder about that stuff when reading a book? Like, “When did they have time to go to the bathroom? They’ve been searching for hours.”). She hears a noise, then Henry yelling at her to run, so she does. She hears footsteps behind her, and she has no idea where she’s going, but finds her way to a stream.
Nancy knows that if she enters the stream, she’ll be harder to track, so she does. She also comes across a canoe and decides to take it to get farther away from whomever is chasing her. She heads to the opposite shoreline to a house with a dock, hoping to find someone home who can help her. What she finds is a surprise, the real culprit of the sabotage. And Nancy had no clue up until that point. So very, very un-Nancy Drew-like.
I liked Secret at Mystic Lake for the action and description of nature, but felt a little let down that Nancy didn’t do so much sleuthing as she did just trying to survive the wilderness with limited resources. Plus, like I said, Nancy didn’t solve the mystery, the culprit revealed themselves instead. But that also happened in the classic Nancy Drew Mysteries as well, sometimes.
I’ve finally got Nancy Drew Diaries 90th Anniversary Collection in my hands, which features the first ten Nancy Drew Diaries with different artwork and comes in an attractive slipcase. It arrived at the perfect time, because the library does not have volume 7 and I don’t normally buy books I haven’t read previously. I think the artwork for this set is outstanding and much better than the regular books.
For more information about my favorite sleuth, check out Jenn Fisher’s Unofficial Nancy Drew website, which has a wealth of information.
For more of my book reviews, visit www.bargain-sleuth.com
Or subscribe below and never miss a review.
This post contains affiliate links.