The Vanishing Statue (Nancy Drew Diaries #20) by Carolyn Keene

Reading the Nancy Drew Diaries are hit or miss for me. For every one that is good, there’s one that isn’t. What would be the case with The Vanishing Statue, the 20th Nancy Drew Diaries entry?

From the publisher: “Nancy is beyond excited when she receives an invitation to an elite celebration of the arts hosted by the Duchess Strickland, a woman once renowned for her collection who hasn’t been seen in years. With Bess and George at her side, Nancy’s certain it will be an evening she’ll never forget.

Then just days before the party, a priceless sculpture is stolen! Still, the Duchess vows the party will go on as planned—and Nancy is determined to use the opportunity to sniff out the thief.

But on the big night, as creatives, collectors, and connoisseurs—all with their own motives—converge, it quickly becomes clear that crime, like art, is all about the illusion, and a stolen statue may be the least of Nancy’s troubles. “

I really wanted to like The Vanishing Statue (Amazon), I really did. But ultimately, the book failed to capture my attention fully. The mystery was mediocre at best. Nancy spends more time trying to decide what she’s going to wear to the celebration as she does looking for the stolen statue. In fact, the vanishing statue is not even the main part of the story.

This book was unusual in that there were some not-so-subtle hints that George might be a lesbian or bi-sexual. Of course, there has been speculation for years about George, mainly because of the stereotypes that she’s got short hair and in both the original books and the Diaries, she’s a tomboy. I never believed the stereotypes because I always felt a close connection to George; I played lot of sports and had short hair, too, and I’m heterosexual. The ghostwriter really drives it home at the end of the book when George is gifted a replica painting by Artemisia Gentileschi who is considered one of the first documented lesbian artists in history. If the publishers want to make George a lesbian, so be it. It matters to young girls reading the books who look up to Nancy and the gang and may be afraid to embrace their own sexuality. I just wish the powers that be were more direct about it and would come right out and say it one way or another.

In fact, this whole book is full of stereotypes about artistic people. Sven only wears loudly colored or glittery leotards and always walks unconventionally; sometimes he skips, sometimes he walks backwards. And for some reason, Bess is crazy for him for most of the book, until she isn’t. Bess is not supposed to be some sort of flake. Sven convinces her do do some performance art. The duchess leaves the first party she’s had in ten years to go painting on the same canvases she’s giving away the same evening.

As I mentioned, Nancy does very little sleuthing and what she does comes during the party, which doesn’t happen until the last half of the book. And Nancy doesn’t so much as solve the mystery as the answer is revealed to her. Ultimately, an unsatisfying book in an uneven series. Chances are the next book will be much better.

This is the 44th Audiobook I’ve listened to as part of my 2021 Audiobook Challenge.

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

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