Susan Sand

The Susan Sand books are a short-lived mystery series from the 1980s featuring a 19-year-old mystery author turned sleuth. Though originally published in the US, they seem surprisingly more available in Australia. Recently I was lucky enough to find the sixth one on Bookmooch, and once I started I could not put it down.

In The Password to Diamonddwarf Dale, Susan is mistaken for someone else and stumbles upon a ring of jewel theives stealing from diamond mogul Jasper Gregory. He enlists her help to discover if it’s an inside job, and also to determine what happened to his adult son with whom he lost contact years ago. Meanwhile, Susan is fascinated by a mysterious emblem on the keystone of the arched entrance.

I also went back to reread the third volume, The Clue in Witchwhistle Well. After a nighttime visitor swaps a souvenir statue, Susan learns it is a replica of a local well making mysterious whistling noises. Rumor says the the elderly owner pushed her husband down it, but she insists he is still alive after being lost at sea. Additionally, a young snake charmer at a nearby circus has her pets stolen. Is it possible that all the events tie in to the recent political trouble on Gilaway Island?

I think the greatest compliment I can pay the Susan Sand mysteries is that I can never quite tell whether Marilyn Ezzell is taking them seriously or not. I can tell from typing the plot descriptions that they sound a little ridiculous and over-the-top. At the same time, however, Susan has so much in common with Harriet Adams’ Nancy Drew. She is self-assured, well-mannered, and admired by peers and adults alike. She has doting best friends and boyfriend. She has a broad range of accomplishments, like swimming and ice-skating, and easily learns new ones (here, dancing with snakes). Not a volume goes by where she doesn’t using acting and disguise to somehow fool the criminals. Even her hair is no ordinary color, described instead as raven. The stories aren’t necessarily believable, but I really get the feel that they are more of a homage than a pastiche.

In addition to characteristics, entire plot elements could probably be traced to Nancy Drew stories–the coded statuettes from The Whispering Statue, the missing son from The Secret in the Old Attic, the circus impersonations from The Ringmaster’s Secret, and so on. Witchwhistle Well even begins with the girls having to stop at cabins overnight because a storm blew up while driving home. Clearly Ms. Ezzell had a love for the series, and I wish there were interviews with her to hear about Susan Sand’s inspiration.

I have one more book I’m holding out on reading until a rainy day, and need three more to complete the series. Hopefully they won’t be too hard to find!

Published in: on June 15, 2010 at 6:48 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: