I’m up to volume 35 in my reading of the Nancy Drew Mysteries. The first 34 books had an Original Text (OT) which were 25 chapters and a Revised Text (RT) some years later which were 20 chapters. From The Haunted Showboat (Amazon) (AbeBooks) on, there is only one version of the books. This volume was published in 1957 and remains unchanged from its original publication.
“Nancy, Bess and George visit New Orleans for Mardi Gras. While on vacation for the festivities, the three friends become involved with pirates, ghosts, and investigating an old showboat, rumored to be haunted, that must be restored in time for the gala celebrations.”
Nancy takes another trip to New Orleans (she previously went in The Ghost of Blackwood Hall (Nancy Drew Mysteries #25) by Carolyn Keene click for review), this time to visit a cousin of Bess and George named Donna Mae who is a year older than Bess and George (so 19). She’s been engaged twice in one year, and family members were shocked when she got rid of Charles for this guy from New York named Alex, who acts suspicious to Nancy from the beginning.
Because it’s a trip to another locale, at times the book reads like a travelogue, but you know what? I always enjoyed these type of Nancy Drew mysteries because as a family of nine people, we never traveled anywhere. And of course, I learned a few things about other parts of the country.
Donna Mae’s parents, the retired colonel and his wife, live on a plantation and they have “servants” named Mammy and Pappy. Ah, yes, the old south is alive and well in this volume, just like the last volume, where Nancy traveled to Virginia and Bess was charmed by the “quaint” slave quarters. In fact, I’m going to have to look up and see if the same ghostwriter was used for both volumes because once again Bess thinks anything to do with slaves is “quaint.”
Nancy’s beloved blue convertible is stolen before she even leaves town, and her father just goes out and buys her a yellow convertible right away, saying he can trade in her old car if it’s ever found. They both claimed that her car was in derelict shape, with stains and tears in the interior. The yellow car is sabotaged with an alarm clock bomb under the hood so Nancy has to call the bomb squad, then as they go along a while further, they discover the housing is coming loose (turns out acid was poured on it to loosen it). So she gets a replacement vehicle which she almost drives over a cliff.
Then they have a “Negro” river guide named Uncle
Remus Rufus (I swear, every time I read Rufus I was thinking Uncle Remus because of how he was portrayed; even the interior artwork has Rufus dressing like Remus), whose canoe is destroyed as they get closer to the old showboat. There’s some references to the fact that Rufus practices voodoo or at least dabbles in it, and he’s a healer of sorts to “his people.” Egads.
All the while Nancy and the gang do some sleuthing, Donna Mae’s betrothed, Alex, does some pretty shady stuff and acts suspicious so you just know he’s involved in the shenanigans somehow. Few clues are turned up into who or why anyone would want to “haunt” the old showboat, which the colonel wants dragged from the swamp where it’s stuck. Late in the story it’s revealed that there was pirate gold on this abandoned showboat.
Donna Mae’s behavior throughout the book runs hot and cold, and Bess and George think it has to do with her fiance’ because she used to be sweet as pie when she was engaged to Charles, who, despite being jilted, is still helping the colonel with the restoration of the showboat. Donna Mae fears that her fiance’, Alex, has eyes on Nancy, so she arranges for Ned, Burt and Dave to visit during their mid-semester break from Emerson (this of course does not match up in any way with college as I know it since Mardi Gras is the end of February-early March and most spring breaks are mid-March, regardless of whether the school has a winterim session or not).
As for peril in this volume, besides the trouble with the cars, someone throws a rock into Nancy’s car, George falls through a rotten board and falls into the ships hold and hurts her leg, Bess falls and hurts her arm, and Nancy and Ned are knocked unconscious by two people after they discover the pirate gold on the old showboat.
Nancy and the gang are able to attend the Mardi Gras parade and apprehend Alex and his co-conspirator at the same time. Of course, Donna Mae realizes her mistake and quickly hooks back up with Charles and gets engaged–again.
I thought this book overall was good, but not great. I really like the cover art of this one. Nice deep rich colors, and notice Nancy is now a redhead? I can’t remember if this was the specific volume where Nancy’s hair color changed for it’s not mentioned in the text.
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