I lucked out on Bookmooch and found one of the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys Be-A-Detective Mysteries, as well as three supermysteries I was missing. In the Be-A-Detective books, you get to make choices that will affect the outcome of the investigation.
I used to read Choose Your Own Adventure Books occasionally, but I’m the kind of person who sat there making a tree diagram to be sure I read every possible storyline in the book. After a while reading them because more cheesy and tedious than fun, so I stopped. I was curious as to how the format would work with a mystery, because sometimes choices turned out very badly!
Fortunately, Nancy and the Hardys’ good luck holds in Secret Cargo. The basic premise is that a young trucker approaches Nancy for help. His father’s company has been hired to deliver an unnamed cargo that must remain sealed, and now he is being followed by mysterious men. The only clue he leaves is the word “Greenglobe.” This is the name of the boat owned by a famous folk singer, as well as the name of his huge environmental campaign. Nancy calls the Hardys for help, and from this point the case takes off in a multitude of different directions.
Of course I had to make sure I read every possible ending, twenty in all. That’s a lot of content in 120 pages! Each individual storyline seems sparse, but taken together there is surprising variety in both plots and clues. My favorite was a note that, depending on your choice, was interpreted at GG or 66. I was really impressed at the different ways Greenglobe and the cargo fit together. Some of the plots involved convicted polluters out for revenge, poaching, promotion tactics ranging from dubious to illegal, an undercover EPA investigation, and even clues deliberately planted by the government to keep the sleuths off the trail of a national secret. A person might be innocent in one ending and guilty in another.
The only aspect I had a little trouble with was the environmental angle. With everyone “going green” these days, it seems hard to believe that only 25 years ago chemical companies would pollute rivers, or dump barrels of toxic waste in the woods. We’re still far from perfect, but I’d like to think that we’re a little more aware of the consequences of our actions.
I have the last one in the series as well, and am looking forward to reading it at some point. I really enjoyed this format for a mystery. In some ways, it seems like the precursor to the Her Interactive games. I wonder why they never published the seventh and eighth volumes.