I’ve found that the Nancy Drew Diaries are hit or miss when it comes to mysteries, but as I re-read the original and revised Nancy Drew Mysteries, the same can be said. So what about The Clue at Black Creek Farm (Amazon) (AbeBooks), the ninth in the Diaries series?
First off, the story has a big information dump right at the beginning, but given the story, it was unavoidable. I like Nancy books that teach you something as well as have a good mystery. This mystery is about a CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture farm. Nancy, George, Bess and Ned are learning more about sustainable and organic farming and thinking about joining a CSA. We have several CSA’s in our area and I have subscribed some years while other years I support local growers by going to the weekly farmer’s markets in town, so I really liked the info drop. It teaches kids something.
But during a dinner which is also a way to get people to sign up for the CSA at Black Creek Farm, something goes horribly wrong. The owner’s pregnant daughter-in-law, who ate before the others, gets violently ill. Tests reveal that the fruits and veggies on the farm are contaminated with E. coli bacteria, which is only found on the insides of cows. Who could have contaminated the dinner food? Nancy’s on the case.
A visit to the farm reveals more. She has George bring some fresh produce to Ned’s biology major friend, who determines the crops are contaminated with E. coli as well. And it gets worse. The greenhouse on the farm is vandalized. Who could be doing this to the owner, Sam, and his wife Abby? Nancy decides to stick around to find out, with the help of Bess. (George has to go to work at a coffee shop and can’t help right away. What a revelation! One of the girls has an actual job; this is unheard of in Nancy Drew books).
Nancy and Bess camp out on the property at night, and it’s while on Nancy’s watch that someone is disturbing the chicken coop. Nancy goes to investigate but trips in the barn and her light goes out. There’s just slivers of moonlight coming in the barn, but she clearly sees someone holding up chickens with their throats slit, and holding a bloody knife. And that person starts coming after Nancy. She high tails it back to the house, and now she’s hearing shots being fired. Nancy’s in real danger, but she wakes up the house and whoever was out there is now gone.
Nancy narrows down her list of suspects one by one, but she still thinks the obvious choice is the culprit until the real bad guy reveals themselves. So once again in a Diaries book, Nancy doesn’t do a very good job of finding the crook, the crook fesses up. This is at least the second Diaries book to do this. I know the modern writers are trying not to make Nancy infallible like she was in the revised texts, but not having her figure out who the real saboteur is makes her seem like she’s not a great detective after all.
The Clue at Black Creek Farm is also available as part of the Nancy Drew Diaries 90th Anniversary Collection (Amazon) (AbeBooks) which was released a few months ago. I absolutely love the artwork for these books much better than the regular volumes, I just wish the publishers had done volumes 11-20 as well. This is a really neat collectible box set that I’m glad I bought.
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