Murder on the Set (Nancy Drew Girl Detective #24)

I had some rough news at work this week at decided a little mystery binge was exactly what I needed this weekend. Murder on the Set was actually the third one I finished, but the easiest to review because it was such a quick read. And, of course, because I never have trouble finding something to say about Nancy Drew!

This one is the 24th in the Girl Detective series, from way back in 2007.  I try to buy them as they come out (they’re pretty much the only books I’m willing to pay full price for), but I’m so far behind I don’t think I’ll ever catch up. They’re already up to 45. It’s also been quite a while since I read the last one. It doesn’t seem like it’s been two years!

In this volume Bess is super excited that Hollywood will be practically in their own backyard. After an accident on the set of his last film five years ago, Gordon MacIntyre is back in the director’s chair for a blockbuster filmed in River Heights and starring two of Hollywood’s hottest names, Brett Harley and Fiona Gibson. Even better, he will be casting locals as extras, so Bess jumps at the chance to get close to the heartthrob. Nancy’s not so much into the glitz and glamour, but she is into mysteries, and when she hears from her dad that Gordon and Brett have received threatening notes she decides that being an extra is the perfect cover for an investigation. Unfortunately, events don’t go as either Nancy or Bess would like. Soon, Nancy realizes that danger just might be afoot, if only she knew who to warn and who is responsible.

First off, why is there NO mention of the film that took place in River Heights for books 5 and 6? Nancy keeps going on about how she gets stage fright, and can’t act, unless it’s for a case, but she already played the lead role of Esther Rackham in the movie about River Heights. I read it before I started writing about the books so I don’t recall if it was actually a Hollywood film or if Bess was an extra. I understand that it would be a nightmare to have continuity with all Nancy Drews ever written, so I’ll overlook that all three girls were extras in Double Horror of Fenley Place in the classic series, but to ignore two books in the same series is a little much. I guess they just wanted a Hollywood tie-in for the real Nancy Drew movie.

There were other contrived inconsistencies as well, such as having George suddenly driving a 1978 bucket of bolts simply so she could be asked to use it in the film. Nancy doesn’t want to tell George and especially Bess about the case, because she doesn’t know if she can trust them. Never mind the hundreds of cases they’ve helped with in the past. Bess is now five inches shorter than Nancy’s 5’7”, and even more so than George. She apparently suffers extreme mood swings between glumness and euphoria, and just for good measure is described as being cheap and never wanting to spend money. I’m pretty sure the Bess I know loves shopping.

The plot was okay, but not great. It seemed more about characters than anything else. And while I liked the longer length in this one, I felt like it really needed more substance to make it worthwhile. As I tried to write the summary above I realized that most of what happens is movie set filler, drama not related to the crime, or red herring filler. Nancy flirts with movie stars, fights with Deirdre, picks a lock, placates Bess, and talks about explosives. And repeats. We had enough handsome movie star romantic tension that at times it read like a Nancy Drew File. If this is for ages 8-12 I’m not sure why they have Nancy making out with the male lead as a stand-in actress and going on a date with a man fifteen years her senior. At the same time, it looks like her eventual reconciliation with Ned is taken for granted because those events were beyond her control, and is not a priority on either side. The author doesn’t even write a “kiss and make up” scene until the end of the book at the movie premiere, which was probably some time after the filming ended. I like the easy relationship the couple has in this series, and Nancy was definitely worried about hurting Ned, but I never thought I’d say that it was too casual.

In other relationship news, the relationship between Chief McGinnis and Nancy seems pretty official at this point. He’s an idiot who either refuses to let Nancy be involved, blocks her investigation, or takes credit when she does succeed. And, apparently, is jealous because she still succeeds with more regularity than he does. I’m still not sure whether I like the dynamic, but it does add an element of humor.

This is not one of my favorites in the series, but from what I’ve heard of later volumes I guess it could be a lot worse.

Published in: on September 10, 2011 at 8:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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