Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Carolyn Keene's The Quest Of The Missing Map

The Quest of the Missing Map is the 19th Nancy Drew mystery. I saw it recently in a local Little Library box, and I'll return it once I've finished this review. This copy sold somewhere once for a dollar, and once belonged to a girl named Debbie who had a green marker.

The missing map will lead to a treasure, of course; half is in possession of Ellen Smith, the daughter of Tomlin Smith, who survived the shipwreck of his father/captain's ship, but not before he got half a treasure map. The other half was in the possession of Tomlin Smith's non-identical twin brother, who will need to be found.

In the setup we learn a little bit about Hannah Gruen, the Drew family housekeeper. Before she came around to raise Nancy she'd worked as a housekeeper for Ellen Smith, which is the connection the brings Ellen Smith to Nancy.

The heirs of the twin brother turn out to be located conveniently close to River Heights; Nancy Drew, naturally, discovers them. There are also two competing groups of thieves also after the treasure map (both halves) who know of their rivals, but are in competition. Nancy must escape their clutches, with the help of her boyfriend Ned. In the end both halves of the map are reunited, and they set sail for the island in the South Atlantic where the treasure is, plus also a grand finale.

It was pretty satisfying. I didn't remember any of this one, and I don't remember whether I'd read it before. It's possible I didn't. A friend of a friend had a complete collection, and I always envied that friend, because she could borrow them from her friend, and read them all. I didn't have them all, or access to them, and I either had to buy them with my allowance, or try to get them (impossibly) from the library. After more years than I care to think about, I can still remember significant parts of The Old Clock, or The Twisted Candles, or Pine Hill, but I don't remember this one, and I just don't know whether I read it at the time or not. (I allowed my parents to give away my childhood mysteries and my Legos, and every now and again I regret it, especially the Nancy Drews and the Trixie Beldens.)

Pretty satisfying, but not perfectly. Nancy ends up kidnapped (though she escapes!) and half the map is stolen, both events occurring because she acts in a way that's not as clever as she usually is. I always find that annoying: when tension is created by your hero acting stupidly. Even heroes will act stupidly, of course, but still...Vic Warshawsky should have known the thugs had tracked her to that warehouse, and Nancy should have known that message was a trap. Oh, well.

And while I'm sure I wouldn't have cared when I was a child, now I'm troubled by the amount of time it would take to sail a yacht from New York to an island in the South Atlantic. Can even college kids just disappear for that amount of time? As I said, oh, well. Was this one slightly inferior, or do I just not remember all that well anymore? I don't know.

This was one of the rewritten versions and dates from 1969, which makes it Silver Age. The rewritten ones are mostly the versions I read as a kid. I was totally unaware of the difference at the time, but I now think one or two of the ones I had were the older editions: it was Nancy Drew that lured me into the dangerous (to me) habit of haunting used bookstores. When once I realized I could get a Nancy Drew I'd never read for a dime (if I was lucky) at a used bookstore when a new one might cost me two dollars of my all-too-limited allowance! (I forget the exact values.) Well. My life has never been the same.

I could use this for a blonde (Bess) or a brunette (George) or, were it a category on the challenge card, titian-haired (Nancy) but I'll go for the map of the title.

Silver Age. Map or Chart. Read for My Reader's Block Mystery Scavenger's Hunt.

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