At a fitness ranch in Arizona, Nancy discovers the future of the ranch is being threatened by unexplained accidents. A ghost at the ranch helps Nancy begins her search for a precious collection of ancient Kachina dolls. The girl detective hunts for her elusive adversary who is determined to prevent the ranch from operating.
The Kachina Doll Mystery (Amazon US) (Amazon UK) (AbeBooks Used Book Marketplace)
Happy Birthday, Nancy Drew! It’s been 93 years since the first three volumes of Nancy Drew Mysteries were first published. I’m slowly making my way through my Nancy Drew collection, which I started collecting in 1982. The Kachina Doll Mystery was first published in 1981 by Wanderer Books, and imprint of Simon & Schuster.
Nancy, Bess and George are headed to Arizona, much like they did in Nancy Drew #5. The Secret of/at Shadow Ranch. They’re there to solve the mystery of who would try to prevent the opening of a health resort by an old friend of Nancy’s and her family. There’s also the search for some missing Native American kachina dolls, which were lost years before by the man who used to own the ranch that’s being converted into the resort.
As with many Nancy Drew books starting back in the 1950’s when Harriet Adams took over full control of the writing of the series, and continued after her death, there are tidbits of geography and history thrown into the mystery. The story of the Kachina dolls was interesting, and I know I’d like to follow up and read more about the Native American culture that used these. There just wasn’t enough of an info dump in that regard to the story.
The Kachina Doll Mystery is a typical Nancy Drew mystery. Nancy and the gang are tasked with finding out who is sabotaging the resort’s opening (hey, something in common with the current Nancy Drew Diaries series!), all while hunting for the missing century-old kachina dolls on the property. The story of how the dolls disappeared is another example of how the white man twisted history to make the Native Americans look like the bad guys. Nancy doesn’t believe the story, and eventually is proven right when she finds the old settler’s journal; he was friends with the Indians, and promised to look after the kachina dolls when other white men came after the natives.
There’s a subplot with a mixed race boy named Ngyun. The owners of the ranch think all of their misfortunes are due to a curse or perhaps tricks played by Ngyun. Nancy suspects that Ngyun isn’t responsible, although he did admit to lighting one fire once. Now everyone thinks he’s responsible for the rash of fires that have erupted around the area.
What’s weird for a Nancy Drew book is that the ghost element of the story is never explained, which is unusual. What normally happens is the ghostly apparitions are explained away in Scooby Doo fashion by the bad guys, but not so in this volume.
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