Previously: A disappeared band member all boiled down to pirated music because WHO DOES THAT? Nancy saves the day by noticing that our bad guy likes dragons. He was not, however, 8 years old.
Lorraine: When we last left dear old Nancy, she was in New York on a vacation when someone in a band got kidnapped. We join Nancy now en route to another vacation, this time to Vermont to do something ski-related. Since this book is called “Murder on Ice” I’m going to go ahead and assume that this vacation doesn’t end well either.
Sweeney: Can I just say that when I went into the drafts and saw that this was called “Murder on Ice” I let out a delighted squeal because there’s no way this isn’t going to be gold? I already know that I’m going to love this post.
Lorraine: Maybe it’ll be just like “Disney on Ice,” Sweeney. You never know.
Anyways, yes, another ruined vacation for our girl detective. If you are Nancy, this is probably the point where you should step back and ask yourself, “what the hell is wrong with me?” Good question, Nancy. Good question.
Sweeney: We ask ourselves this question all the time, Nancy. We feel you, girl.
Lorraine: Nancy is joined on her latest adventure by her best friends George and Bessie, also known around these parts as the Bovine Besties. In case you forgot (and let’s be honest, you did) George is athletic and boy-shy and Bessie is plump and her favorite sports are “shopping and men.”
If you consider men a sport? #hosuspension.
Sweeney: That #hosuspension was inevitable. She already got a #hodetention for being Nancy’s BFF. Oh and being “plump”? Ew. Traumaland authors don’t like that. Forget Barbie, I developed my misguided priorities and body image problems from books. Books! And our parents thought we were safe here…
Lorraine: Maybe I got my “being brown” insecurities from books too! LET’S BLAME BOOKS FOR EVERYTHING. Books is my new “the economy.”
In Bess’ defense, shopping is totally a legit sport. Like cheer-leading.
Ned Nickerson, who Nancy likes to kiss a lot, is also present.
They get there and Nancy signs the group in. As she’s filling out the forms, Bess leans over her shoulder and says, “Hey Nancy, don’t forget to put, “Bestest Detective Ever” under occupation, har, har, har” and she makes sure to say it super loudly so that our plot can progress nicely.
Liz, the lady who runs the ski resort, is the worst sales lady of ever. She tells them that they don’t have the amenities of the larger, better place up the road, “Overlook.” Also, they don’t always have rentals, their chair lift is old and they don’t always have a ski instructor but they happen to have one at the moment, Luke Ericksen.
Sweeney: I support this – keep expectations low. Be honest, this is how we’d run a resort to. “Hey, uh welcome. We hang out and it’s fun and all, but shit’s broken a lot because we’re too lazy to fix it so we’re just letting you know. Don’t ask us to do anything about it. Kthnxbye.”
Lorraine: This reminds me of fundraising in school. I would be all, “buy a tin of popcorn that tastes like tin so that I can get free stuff from the prize chart!!” I would never get anything off the prize chart, though.
Liz then shows them to their rooms, which are summer camp style with a girls side and boys side and bunk beds. It’s like a college dorm resort, apparently.
Nan gets ready to get her ski on but as she heads back out of her room, Liz stops her and asks her to have a word. “Is it true what I heard your friend conveniently expositing in a loud voice? That you are a detective,” Liz asks. Why, yes. An internationally renowned barely legal detective at that.
Liz explains that she’s been pissing her pants lately because the other night, she saw someone with blond hair and blue eyes peering into her office. Not even in a bom-chicka-wow-wow-way, but in like a creepy way. I just realized that there is probably no sexy way to be creeping in someone’s window, and that’s just another way living/having friends in the Internet has messed up my perception of the world.
Sweeney: When I see you this weekend I’ll show you how way sexy a blond-haired-blue-eyed person creeping in your window can be. And this is the story of how I ruined our friendship.
Lorraine: …and started our love affair? Because I’m not seeing anything wrong with being creeped on by you.
So, yeah, someone was creeping. And she went out back to investigate and the person disappeared and all that were left were the ski trails leading to the area of the mountain they share with Overlook. Since then, the kitchen door has been tampered with and she keeps getting mysterious calls from someone looking for “John.”
Please help Nancy! Puh-leeeeze!
Oh, why doesn’t anyone call the cops? Er… because she wants to make sure someone actually is creeping before causing a commotion. Cops around the hotel would be bad for business.
The key ingredients to a Nancy Drew mystery, y’all. 1.) Nancy awkwardly standing in front of a guy on the front cover as an obvious metaphor for how much she gets around. 2.) Contrivance. 3.) A craptastic reason for why the cops can’t be called. 4.) a shitton of the most boring stuff ever. 5.) I become an alcoholic. Again.
Glad to see we’re well on on way! *drinks*
Sweeney: Why haven’t we created a Nancy Drew drinking game yet?
Liz hires Nancy on her vacation to figure out who is creeping.
Nan goes outside to start skiing and spots the ski instructor, Luke, who happens to have blond hair and blue eyes. She goes up and introduces herself but he’s basically a douche and ignores her while she’s standing right there. When she’s finally all, “well.. I guess I’ll just go ski now…” he yells at her that she can’t ski until he’s had time to inspect the chair lift. So, he matches the description of the creeper, is a jerk and is introduced to us right away? He’s clearly not the murderer. Nice try, Ghostwriter. You can’t fool me.
Sweeney: I’m totally hiring you the next time I have an outlandish mystery that I should take to the police. Or maybe the next time I lose my keys or something.
Lorraine: I’ll make sure to blame everyone and the mail man for taking your keys, then I’ll fall out of a window, then I’ll kiss a hot guy, then I’ll find them under the couch next to an empty Blue Moon bottle.
Determined to start skiing OMG RIGHT NOW, Nan asks if there is any other way to get up the mountain and Luke mentions an old rope tow and then says that only awesome experts like him can use it. Way to make sure Nancy will get on that rope tow, Luke.
When Ned goes off to borrow some skis, Nancy makes her way over to the rope and starts her ascent. Halfway up, she spots someone in a blue ski suit waiving her down. Sensing that there is danger ahead, she notices that the rope is fraying up ahead, and her weight is quickly making it worse. The rope snaps and Nancy falls hard and fast. And once again, Nancy Drew delivers in one area that none of the other books can: repeated physical violence against the main character. +10000000 points for Nancy Drew.
Sweeney: YES. PLUS SO. MANY. POINTS. A toast, to Nancy Drew. BSC books are also dull as a box of rocks and yet no one is ever tragically maimed! I will never get over the injustice of this. Actually, I’m sure one of the girls will break an arm or something eventually. Probably not Kristy, though – I’m not that lucky.
Lorraine: Nan wakes up all achy and, you know, fallen on a mountain. Next to her is a man, also blond haired and blue eyed, shaking her and saying really unhelpful things like, “LIVE DAMMIT.” He must’ve taken a page out of Jessica Wakefield’s book of helping people recuperate.
She fades in and out of consciousness and at one point hears Luke, who I am now calling Pukey Lukey, talking to the mysterious helpful man. They seem to recognize each other and Pukey mentions “The Broken Leg Cafe” but Nancy blacks out again. By the time she comes to, Helpful Man is gone and only Pukey remains. Nan asks where Helpful went and Luke denies that anyone was ever there.
When Ned and the Bovine Besties get to the scene of the, uh, fall, Pukey Lukey is all, “peace bitches” and clears it. They wonder what his deal is. Just then, Ned’s new dorm-mate Gunther appears. Introductions are made and Bessie, the Olympic Whore, is on it immediately. She’s all, “want to give me private lessons,” and Ned’s all, “yeah, remember how your best friend just fell out of the sky and landed on a mountain? Think we can get her back to the lodge first?” Bess agrees.
Back at the lodge, hot chocolate is had because chocolate cures everything. (PS I’m actually reading the Harry Potter series for the first time ever, and by far my favorite part of the whole thing so far is that chocolate helps after an encounter with dementors. Obvs.)
Sweeney: I am also reading it for the first time – we needed to be reminded that not all books for kids suck. Related: THAT’S TOTALLY ABOUT FOUR CHAPTERS BEFORE WHERE I LEFT OFF BEFORE BED LAST NIGHT. Sorry, I think my job is to go off on tangents about things that nobody cares about. Every movie has someone like that.
Lorraine: Nancy fills Liz in on the rope breaking and the Helpful Man, who she’s sure she saw. She questions Liz about Lukey because he is awful pukey. Liz stands up for him, and surprisingly, so does George, because he’s an athlete just like her! And, y’know, athletes are… awesome and… honest and… oh, fuck, she just thinks he’s cute. The book tells us that George is basically in love after meeting Lukey exactly ONCE.
Lorraine: We all know kids are dumb, but these bitches are supposedly 18. You can just admit you are horny. Wait. These are still kids books? Fine. “She’s in love.”
George abandons Nancy, because face meeting mountain is really nothing, and she’s got a ski instructor to seduce. In fact, no one sees Lukey or George again until way late at night, and all through dinner, George ignores Nancy.
Nan figures that George is pissed at her for suspecting the love of her life that she’s just met today of being a creeper. She lays awake at night thinking of how creepy Luke actually is when she hears rustling outside. She goes over to the window and in the snow, someone has etched the word, “murderer.”
Conveniently, and because this was back in the 80’s when phone pics did not even exist, the word has been snowed over in the morning. Our girl detective tells Liz and Ned about it the next morning, and Liz has an overly dramatic reaction and then offers to fire Luke over it. Nan tells her they don’t really have evidence yet, so to hold off on all that noise.
Ned borrows some skis from Luke and him and Nan start fooling around on a more advanced slope. Really, they are trying to sneak around and find Luke. While they are racing, Ned has a nasty tumble and the book tries to scare us into thinking that maybe Ned is dead but, pfft book. This isn’t our first time at the rodeo. His eyes “flutter open” at the start of the very next chapter. This would be the perfect time for someone to explain to me why eyes always “flutter open” when you are coming back from the dead.
Sweeney: Naturally, death and butterflies go together swimmingly.
Lorraine: Luke spots the hurt Ned and he starts being a pain in the ass about Nan and Ned not being good enough skiers to keep doing these daring things. Nancy tells him to suck a big, hairy one and then after examining one of the borrowed skis realizes that it’s been sabotaged. One of the screws was unscrewed and the hole was purposefully widened, or some sabotage-y thing like that.
Sweeney: SKIING IS JUST A BAD IDEA. NOTHING GOOD HAPPENS IN THE SNOW. I think anyone who is dumb enough to choose to vacation in snow and cold deserves their misery.
Lorraine: Amen. I mean, “hey, let’s get on two long poles and glide down slippery ice,” just isn’t appealing to me.
Back in the story, we have a cut tow rope and unscrewed skis. Nancy figures that either someone is trying to go after Luke and having really bad luck or Luke is trying to kill them. And having really bad luck.
Nancy tries to talk to George about her potentially-a-murderer-man-flavor-of-the-week. George isn’t having it because sure, Nancy is her best friend since forever ago, BUT LUKE IS HOT AND CAN SKI AND YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND HIS TORTURED SOUL. Nancy keeps pressing though, bringing up the Broken Leg Cafe, which she heard the Helpful Man mention, and George just breaks down crying and runs away.
Sweeney: In her defense, finding out that your new boyfriend is a murderer would have that effect.
Lorraine: Later that night, even though Ned’s ankle is all swollen and shit, the gang all heads to Overlook to go dancing! Nothing like attempted murders to make you wanna put on your dancing shoes. At the Overlook, who does Nancy run into but Helpful Man, whose real name is Michael, but that’s dumb and boring, so we’re sticking with Helpful.
Helpful Man pretends not to know Luke, as Nancy tells him the story of skis, but she can’t ever really not be nosey so she presses. Again. Some more. Helpful fesses up to knowing Luke. Helpful says that Luke once lent a friend of his, Dieter McSomethingOrOther some skis and they were defective also. Dieter ended up in a coma and then ended up dead.
Sweeney: Oh! Yeah, that guy. I mean, yeah, I guess I knew that guy who lent my friend some skis that made him in a coma and then dead. But that was so long ago, you know? Water under the bridge, really.
Lorraine: Yeah, I’m not sure I like Helpful Man too much.
Now Nan is really, really worried about George and she figures maybe if she sets her up with Helpful Man, George will forget about Luke. It’d say this is the worst plan ever, but since George is accustomed to falling for boys in the span of a minute or five, maybe Nan is onto something. Helpful Man disappears, however.
Sweeney: That is particularly unhelpful, sir.
Lorraine: Determined to find him and get more dirt on Luke, though, Ned and Nancy come back to Overlook the next day. When Nancy’s car doesn’t start, Liz lets them borrow Luke’s Jeep, which he keeps on hand for emergencies. So, off they go, and locate him they do. Helpful Man explains that he doesn’t know if Luke sabotages stuff on purpose of if he’s just the unlukiest guy ever, but either way, that doesn’t bring his dead friend back to life, so Luke can suck a dick, basically. Word.
Hey, speak of the devil! Here come Luke and he’s pissed that Nancy borrowed his Jeep. I’m upset that she would still borrow anything for this guy. He could be all, “here, use my spoon,” and I’d politely decline because that shit would probably explode or scoop out my eye or something sabotage-y.
Sweeney: No shit. I know Nancy is more of a lucky detective than one who is actually good at this, but seriously? The trend appears to be: (1) Luke-lends-shit (2) People-get-hurt-or-comatose-or-dead. Really, Nancy? REALLY!?
Lorraine: Luke is in the middle of his, “don’t touch my stuff you big poo-poo head,” tirade when he notices Helpful Man. He goes pale and gets that look on his face that people get when they see someone who lost a friend thanks to you. That’s probably not a thing, huh?
Helpful Man is all, “Luke… Erickson, right?” which is weird because I thought we just covered the fact that you two know each other? Anyways, it doesn’t matter much because Luke runs away like a pansy. Ned and Nance take the Jeep back over to their hotel, but on the way the brakes give out. Y’know, a lot is said in this book about bad things happening around Luke, but Nancy? You are an injury magnet. They crash and Nancy ends up upside down. I only mention it in an attempt to savor the moment. You all know how I feel about violence.
Sweeney: Specifically violence against Traumaland main characters. It’s kind of the best thing to happen in the history of everdom. (Thank you, Real World: Las Vegas)
Lorraine: Nancy manages her way out of the crashed car and she and Ned start walking the rest of the way towards the ski-dorm before Helpful Man conveniently comes to their rescue. He drives them the rest of the way, and sticks around for a little while because of the approaching snow storm. While there, he tries to convince George that Luke is bad news but SHE IS IN LOVE GOD DAMN IT. Love always assumes you are innocent until proven guilty.
Sweeney: Or until you can find an alternative fuckbuddy for the night. Nancy really should have given Helpful Man some tactical guidance on handling this one.
Lorraine: Sounds dirty.
Liz advises the kids to go on home. A blizzard is coming and if they don’t leave in front of it, they could be stranded for days and days. Naturally, George will not leave because SHE’S IN LOVE FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. Love faces snow storms. Besides, Luke and George have plans to go skiing in the middle of the night. Nancy is all, “bad idea homey. Luke is a good skier, but mother nature be cray-cray. Plus, he does seem to favor his right leg which I’m detecting the shit out of, and assuming he’s injured it in the past.”
George is all, “well in the Olympic trials… WHOOPS. I’ll shut up now!!” and Nancy realizes she’s said something she shouldn’t have. The next day, blizzard be damned, Nancy skis to the library. I’m not sure if that’s an actual thing that happens because I’ve lived in south Florida for practically ever, so snow is like one step below unicorns. I’ve heard of it, I think, a few times, you know?
Sweeney: I have lived in snow, but as it regularly kicks my ass, breaks my computers, and gets me stuck in ditches, I will say NO THAT’S NOT A THING with the asterisk of: but less inherently catastrophic individuals might disagree.
Lorraine: At the library, Nan finds old magazine articles about German Olympic hopeful, Dieter McThingyThing. He was challenged to a night race by one John Bernsten, an American Olympic hopeful. It was during that race that Dieter died and that Bernsten lost his chance to compete in the Olympics due to leg injuries. Bernsten also claimed to have lost his memory. It was later discovered that someone had tampered with Dieter’s skis. Bernsten disappeared before he could be questioned. Dieter’s cousin Gerhardt swore eternal revenge against Bernsten.
If any of you haven’t figured out that Bernsten = Pukey Lukey, well then, I’m doing a terrible job at recapping these. JAYKAY. You’re just dumb. DOUBLE JAYKAY. Kind of.
The story Helpful Man gave her about the Dead Dieter was different than what the magazine article said. Plus, even if Pukey Lukey is a murderer, why would he write “murderer” in the snow? Unless that’s like his street name. “MurDereR wuz here.”
Nancy thinks that maybe this cousin Gerhardt might be the person creeping on the grounds! But there is no Gerhardt staying at their ski-dorm. But! There is Gunther and he’s German and uh, all German people are basically interchangeable right? Right. Besides, it wouldn’t be a true Nancy Drew book if she didn’t accuse everyone at least once. I’m anxiously waiting for the book where she accuses herself.
Sweeney: Maybe after one of her many epic concussion-inducing injuries?
Lorraine: Coma! Coma! Coma!
Nan realizes that Pukey Lukey is the victim here. Someone is obviously trying to attack him, though she’s unsure if he had anything to do with Dead Dieter’s accident. Later that night, someone also tries to attack George. Even later that night, someone sets off an avalanche which buries Luke. The gang all go to his rescue and drag him back to the ski-dorm. Helpful Man suggests going with Nancy to Overlook to get some help.
Sweeney: Wait, so we have a murder who can set off avalanches, but can’t off these morons? Oh. All right. Cool.
Lorraine: Apparently, our murderer had a bomb handy. What a boy scout.
Somewhere along the long, lonely, dark, snowy path to Overlook, Nancy realizes that she’s alone with the actual murderer. I’m really happy that I’ve called him “Helpful Man” throughout this whole post since it turns out he killed someone for the chance at a medal.
Nancy figures it all out: he’s been lying about Luke the whole time. If he knew Luke’s real name, why didn’t he just call him it? He had blonde hair and blue eyes. He does some fancy ski-manuever that Nancy noticed George’s masked attacker do. Etc.
She confronts HelpfulKiller all, “you be killing people, huh?” Helpful says he meant to injure Luke but confused his skis with Dieter’s. He didn’t mean to kill anyone either, but that’s just the way the cookie crumbled. The death cookie.
On the day of the accident, Luke saw Helpful at the scene of the crime and went after him. Helpful tripped him with a ski pole and then hit him over the head with a stone, causing him to lose his memory. It wasn’t until recently that Luke began to remember details surrounding the event and George was helping him piece it all together. Helpful Man just happened to come across Luke in this small Vermont city because the odds of that happening are totally high.
Once he realized that Luke was regaining his memory, Helpful Man knew he’d have to shut him up forever. Except that he’s the worst killer ever, because he tried like five times and failed every time. Lame. I’m additionally upset that “Murder on Ice” is about a murder that happened a long time ago. That basically doesn’t even count.
Sweeney: I’m upset that at no point has figure skating been a part of this show. I was thinking some sort of big epic High School Musical on Ice type event. WHERE ARE THE CHOREOGRAPHY AND MUSICAL NUMBERS? This is not the Murder on Ice I signed up for.
Lorraine: There was a little skating earlier in the book, but I forgot to mention it. And by “forgot” I mostly mean, “it wasn’t important and I already have the longest recaps on the site and really this skating was just an excuse to show us how awesome Nancy is at everything because she’s the #1 young detective of ever.” But, I digress. And agree.
Helpful Man attacks Nancy, but she’s a ninja detective and she chokes him unconscious with his own ski pole. Ned and Liz show up to the rescue, saying that Luke woke up with his memory fully intact, thanks to the avalanche that rattled him. People are like soda machines really. You just whack them a few times if they are broken and everything will be okay.
Sweeney: Definitely applying this philosophy to my daily life.
Lorraine: So, Nancy Drew closes another case. I don’t know why at the end of these books I’m always left with this distinct dull between the eyes feeling. Like I’m not sure what just happened. Like I’m not sure if the mystery was really a mystery. Like I don’t understand why it doesn’t matter who is dying, Ned and Nancy always find a way to kiss. Like why these always end abruptly, after they dragged on for a millionty pages. Why the more things you connect throughout the story, like someone calling the ski-dorm, asking for “John” and Lukey’s real name ended up being “John,” the worse the dull feeling gets. Why you begin to question plot points, like why would HelpfulKiller write murderer in the snow if he knew Luke wasn’t a killer, because he was the killer.
Sweeney: I take these, “Why?” moments as a sign that this project has yet to eviscerate all of my ability to think logically. It’s only a matter of time before we not only stop asking “Why?” to the nonsense plot lines of Traumaland, but start doing it in our real lives. Cherish what’s left of your reason and common sense while you have it, Lor.
Next time on The Nancy Drew Files: Nancy goes undercover at a magazine and Ned is tired of taking the back seat to Nancy’s compulsive need to accuse someone of something at least twice a day. Will their relationship survive? Will this dull ache ever go away? Find out in #4 – Smile and Say Murder.