Previously: I’m not really sure what happened to Nancy, but we used a lot of Twilight gifs.
Lorraine: Let’s get this out of the way early: never go on a vacation with Nancy Drew. I can almost hear you questioning the validity of this advice, based on the fact that Nancy is a fictional character who, were she real, would be in her 80’s by now. It doesn’t matter. I feel so strongly about this advice that I’d even go as far as saying, “never go on a trip with anyone named Nancy.” Better safe than sorry.
Sweeney: Related advice includes, “Never trust anyone named Jessica,” and, “If you think that hiring a baby to watch your baby is a good idea, you are probably an unfit parent.”
Lor: To all the Jessicas and Nancys who read this blog: sorry. Kind of.
Nancy’s best friend George is trying to convince their other best friend Bess that white water rafting would be the best way ever to spend a vacation . I’m pretty much with Bess, as she paints her nails and says that no, the possibility of death by rushing water doesn’t sound good at all. I’ll go ahead and say right now that most of the outdoorsy parts of this book were really beyond me. I’ll do my best to recap them but if you see this (?) that means that I am slightly confused by these nature things and may have less than faithfully conveyed what’s happened in the book.
Sweeney: We’re bloggers. The outdoors confuse us a little. (Or a lot.)
Lor: Our cracker jack detective is asking for details regarding the rafting vacation. “Tell us again, George, all the details of this book’s contrivance set-up, so that the readers at home know what the heck is going on,” Nancy says and George tells us this:
She’s won a national contest for a free vacation for four to Montana for rafting. Sure, she doesn’t even remember entering a contest, but those are minor details. She got a letter from a woman named Paula who owns the rafting company and who will also be providing for their travel.
George complains that they need a vacation, even though they were just in Fort Lauderdale. I guess since there was a coma, attempted murder and illegals all up on their vacation jock, it doesn’t really count? I mean, never mind that 4/6 books have now featured the team traveling for some sort of vacation.
Sweeney: I know judging is our thing, but I’m not going to judge them for this one. As a general rule I return from vacation, unpack, and then feel that I am owed another vacation for all the effort and big-girl time that went into unpacking. Except I don’t really unpack, so much as continue to live out of my suitcase for an unreasonable amount of time, but that’s not the point. The point is that if I were as loaded as these girls seem to be, I would be on non-stop vacations too.
Lor: OMG, unpacking sucks. Man, Sweeney. I hate when you make me agree with characters. Fine, they probably do need another vacation especially since every time they are one one, someone dies or almost dies. How many vacations would you take with Nancy before you were like, “no homie. You are on your own. I’ll pay you to not take me on vacation.”
Sweeney: Probably a lot. I really like vacations.
Lor: Fair enough.
Bess whines about wanting to sunbathe and shop, not raft and uh, water. (?) (We can totally use water as a verb here, right?) George gets snippy and asks if there are any other things she lives for. Bess quickly replies, “boys and eating.” I’m pretty sure this is a totally fine priority list.
Nancy convinces George to also invite Ned Nickerson along. Ned is her on-again-off-again, and things have been a little chilly between them since two books ago. Nan thinks the trip will give them a chance to spend time together. They finally win Bess over to the idea by telling her that lots of boys go rafting.
Ned comes over to Nancy’s for a visit. Nan invites him on the trip, apologizing for taking him for granted. They actually have a really cute, flirty moment, but they are interrupted by a phone call from the plot. I MEAN, from “a mysterious voice.” Mysterious Voice warns Nancy that if she wants to stay alive, she’d better sit out of the trip and just stay home.
Sweeney: Mysterious Voice clearly hasn’t read any of these books, because it’s never Nancy so much every single person around her that winds up with a serious case of deadness.
Lor: I also suspect that calling everyone else would rack up the long distance charges.
The next day, Nancy is telling the Bovine Besties about the threatening phone call over ice cream. This seems like both the best and worst thing to be doing at the moment. On one hand, if someone just threatened your life, maybe it’s not the best time for ice cream. On the other hand, if someone just threatened your life, you’d probably want ice cream while you discussed it.
Nancy says she wasn’t sure if the phone call was a threat or a warning. Both would bother me, but not Nancy. She decides she wants to go on the trip anyways. The Bovines are all, “we’ll go too because we stick together in tough times.”
WHAT? NO. This is not a tough time! This isn’t a break up or your damn dog dying! SOMEONE IS THREATENING YOUR LIFE.
Sweeney: Isn’t Nancy’s life in jeopardy on 80% of days that end in ‘y’? As you said before, the Bovine Besties need to just stop hanging out with Nancy in general.
Lor: We jump ahead and the gang is in Montana, trying to find their way to Lost River. They are following a map provided for them but seem to be getting nowhere. Bess says it almost seems like whoever drew up the map wants them to get lost. Uh, duh. Please see, “someone is trying to kill you.”
George finally agrees that the circumstances are fishy, especially because no one met them when they landed at the airport.
Sweeney: Wait, where did this map come from?
Lor: The magical “Maps That Will Lead to Your Death” fairy. She’s kind of a bitch.
As they navigate the twisty roads and boulders and stuff, Ned comments on how it’s a lucky thing they didn’t try driving this road at night. The words are only just out of his mouth before Nancy yells at him to look out. The road in front of them vanishes, causing Ned to slam on the brakes.
The don’t go off the cliff but Bess bumps her head. We get the obligatory, “thank goodness we were wearing seat belts, which me must mention since this a book geared toward children,” thing. Safety first y’all! If you are going to go on a vacation where someone threatens to murder your face off, wear your seat belts!
Nancy wonders why there wasn’t a barricade warning them that the road ended. (Because someone is trying to kill you.)
Ned says if it were night time, they would’ve gone over. (Because someone is trying to kill you.)
Nancy notices that there is a barricade, but someone has moved and hidden it. (Because someone is trying to kill you.)
Bess says it’s almost like someone was trying to kill them. (Nah that can’t be it.)
(Just kidding! Someone is trying to kill you.)
Sweeney: Anyone who blames the internet for the deficient memories of our generation needs to take a step back and look at the characters in these books. Look at our role models! This girl can’t even seem to remember the death threat she got the other day, so how can I honestly be expected to remember birthdays without Facebook?
Lor: Nan gets out a real map and the gang are able to locate Lost River. Don’t ask why they didn’t do that in the first place. Stop. Don’t ask.
When they get there, they meet Paula, who is surprised to see them and a little curt. Nancy introduces herself, and sticks out her hand, but Paula ignores it and doesn’t shake. This gives Nan the heebie-jeebies. Not the mysterious phone call. Not almost driving off a cliff: SOMEONE BEING RUDE. Obvs, Paula goes right onto her suspects list.
Sweeney: Obviously. Rudeness is like indicator #1 of serial-killer-ness.
Lor: This makes my day to day life suddenly very scary.
Also immediately on the suspect list is Max, the expert river-rafter. All he does is look at Bess a little skeevily and say it’s nice to meet them and BAM, he’s a suspect.
The gang take a few moments to meet the other people there: Sammy, a pretty, flirty girl who immediately takes to talking to Ned; Tod and Mike, two practical jokers; Linda and Ralph, two quiet friends and Mercedes, Paula’s cousin. You’ll probably remember none of that so I’m going to collectively call them the Whack Rafters. You’re welcome.
After a bit, Paula announces that it’s time to load the rafts and directs Nancy to climb into one first. She gets up in there and the rope holding the raft loosens (?) and Nancy is rushed away by the river towards the falls.
Ned and Max run after Nancy, directing her to try and use the oars, but it’s hard, ’cause of that whole “big, rushing river” thing. Nancy remembers that there is a less deadly fall off to the left and rows herself that way (?) and she goes over.
Sweeney: I don’t actually know anything about water rafting, but I’m totally sure that the events surrounding your questions marks were bullshit, because the books we read seem to be researched only for inaccuracy. Like, someone in the various Ghost Writing Collectives actually looks up the stuff they talk about deliberately to get it wrong.
Lor: Ned throws Nan a rope and gets her to shore safely. She’s soaking wet and Paula yells at her for not having her life jacket on. I would’ve been all, “hey can we yell at me a little later? I almost died very recently.” Instead Nancy just says there were conveniently none in the raft.
(Because someone is trying to kill her.)
Everyone gets back on the rafts like nothing just happened and they get to more rafting. After a while they break for lunch near a berry bush and what should come out? A bear!!
YOUTH MAULING BEAR IS THAT YOU?
Sweeney: FINALLY! THE YOUTH MAULING BEAR HAS HEARD OUR PLEAS!
Lor: Nancy freezes. Ned tries to run over and save the day, but one of the Whack Rafters is all, “No! Ned! Don’t leave me!” and tackles him into a berry bush. I’m not really sure why this happens but it’s kind of funny that Ned gets pushed into a berry bush.
Max comes over and makes enough loud noises to scare off youth mauling bear. In his defense, though, I’m pretty sure YMB wasn’t scared, just all, “fuck! You can stop shouting now, Jesus.”
Sweeney: I’m still a little disappointed in the YMB for leaving us with so little damage done.
Lor: Bess is falling in lurve with Max, as she does. Nancy is wary because Max is a suspect, as all the boys Bess like usually are. Bess poo-poo’s Nancy’s warning.
Sweeney: It sounds like Bess’s vagina might be the best detective in the series.
As the gang are eating lunch, Max wanders over and says that Nancy looks pretty familiar. Nancy admits to being a detective and this gets all the Whack Rafters’ attentions. Nancy says she’s worked on all sorts of cases including blackmail, murder and theft and suddenly Max stomps away. Nancy is suspicious.
Everyone gets back on the rafts and it isn’t long before they are up against another fall. Max’s raft, with the Bovine Besties on it, is in front but they get caught up on a rock and the raft capsizes over the fall. (?) Bess almost drowns but Ned swims after her.
One of the Whack Rafters tells Nancy that Max let a raft capsize in the same spot last year, which is how he got a scar on his face. Two people drowned. No other rafting company will hire him, but for some reason, Paula did.
Again, I really don’t know shit about rafting or the likelihood of any of this. They could be saying, “and the raft hit an alien and did cartwheels down a river dance floor,” and I’d be all, “sounds good to me!”
Sweeney: No, that sounds way too interesting to find its way into a Nancy Drew Files book.
Lor: The raft that capsized is damaged beyond repair. Everyone decides to set up camp for the night and then send a group in the morning to go get another raft. Things are never that easy, though, and in the middle of the night someone slashes up the one good raft.
Everyone starts getting huffy and pointing fingers. Nancy says that even though she’s a world class detective, (LOL) she has no leads. Paula practically lets out a “neener, neener.” They remember they have a radio but that is also not working, meaning that if they want to get anywhere, they have to climb a cliff.
Paula asks one more time if the “famous girl detective” has any input and Nancy’s just all, “No. Chill homie.”
The Whack Rafters all climb the cliff and start hiking through the woods with Bess in charge of the compass. Bess tries to explain that she should have nothing to do with such gadgets but Paula says she’ll be fine. So, of course, she isn’t. Bess loses the compass.
Only, Bess swears it was in her pocket and it was taken. Paula is upset and turns to Nancy and says that she’s the expert and is going to have to get them out of this mess. I know this is funny coming from me, but, PAULA YOU FREAKIN’ HATER.
Ned takes Nancy aside and tells her that he saw Paula taking the compass out of Bess’ pocket. Max saw it too. They decide not to say anything and to keep a close eye on both Paula and Max while they keep almost dying. Wonderful plan.
Max suggests to Paula climbing a high cliff to check stuff out (?) so up they go. It takes 15 minutes before the rest of the Whack Rafters hear anything, and it’s Paula screaming for Max to stop it. Next thing they know, they see Paula’s body falling off the cliff into the creek. Whoops.
Mercedes wants to go after the body but Ned is all, “Uh, no.” The climb down is too hard and plus chances are she’s dead from the fall. They will send someone after her body when they find rescue.
I kind of have a feeling bitch is still alive, but since this post has very little else going for it, how about a death light show everyone?!
Sweeney: Any excuse for a fictional character death light show, really.
Lor: Bess wonders where Max is and everyone else says he’s probably washing the murder out of his hair or something. Is that what murderers do post-murder?
Sweeney: Can we add that to the list of ways to get out of interacting with people you never ever want to interact with? Right after “shaving my hands.”
Lor: Another A+ for you. I feel “I can’t. I have to wash the murder out of my hair” would be an amazingly effective way to get people to leave you alone.
Bess says they don’t know if Max is even guilty and Nancy agrees. She tells everyone they can’t jump to conclusions because the truth is that Paula is the one who stole the compass and probably sabotaged the rest of the stuff.
With their two guides now gone or dead, Tod and Mike start leading the way until they find the trail they were looking for. It’s almost dark so they look for a campsite. Nancy feels like someone is watching her, and it’s probably because someone wants to kill her. As she tells Ned her suspicions, a big rock gets loose from the hill (?) and comes straight for Nancy.
Ned pulls her out of the way. Nancy freaks out a little, but um, it’s acceptable because she almost got smashed by a big rock, kind of like in Problem Child 2.
Ned and Nancy sneak in a little post-almost-dying-flirty-time, where Ned says he’d like to keep Nancy warm ifyouknowwhatImean. (I think he means with his penis.)
Nancy is all, “can you wait until we’re not almost dying?”
I mean, that’s almost what she says. It’s all in the subtext, I promise.
Sweeney: I don’t know, Nancy. You’re almost dying. It sounds like now is exactly the time for a little Traumaland not-sex.
Lor: In the morning, Nancy wakes up and – OH FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. Now there’s a snake placed strategically on her sleeping bag. I can’t decide if this is the worst would be murderer of all time or if Nancy is immortal.
OR- Ned is Superman because he has saves the day again.
Sweeney: So this would-be murderer is close enough to sleeping Nancy to leave a snake, but not to actually get the job done? Are we still trying to make this look like an accident? It’s a little late for that.
Lor: The Whack Rafters all get up and start walking again. Nancy falls behind the pack thanks to a blister on her foot, and Max comes out of nowhere saying he needs to talk to Nancy. So, obviously, he clonks her over the head. This is always what I do when I want to talk to people.
Nancy comes to and she’s tied to a rock. (?) She manages to loosen the rope and when Max shows up, he starts to apologize and say he just wanted to talk but Nancy ain’t hearing that. She punches him and runs away, finding Ned, Bess and George a little while off.
Nancy explains what happened to her, but also mentions that she feels a little bad for punching and running. She thinks maybe Max really did just want to talk.
The gang soon reunites with the rest of the Whack Rafters and they finally make it to the damn forest ranger fire tower (?) they were looking for. But, of course, Max is there waiting for them. Some of the Whack Rafters chase him and beat him some more, before Super!Ned jumps in and single handedly stops the madness.
Nancy goes over to Max and asks him what he’s been trying to say. Max says that he didn’t kill Paula, that it was the other way around. He says Paula is after Nancy. And then he passes out.
The Whack Rafters move Max into a nearby shed. Mike volunteers to climb the tower and send out a rescue message. After Max seems to keep getting worse, Nancy goes off to find Mike and make sure the park rangers send a doctor with the rescue team. She doesn’t it make it very far up the tower when who shows up? Paula.
I’m not taking my death light show back, though.
Nancy is all, “Paula!” and Paula’s all, “I’m alive!” Nancy asks Paula what she wants and I practically yell at my book, “I’VE BEEN TRYING TO TELL YOU SHE WANTS TO KILL YOU.”
Paula says she wants to kill her.
Nancy and Paula have the standard detective/bad guy face off, where Nancy goes starts putting all the pieces together and Paula says, “that’s right! I did that!”
Sweeney: It had to have been super annoying for Paula to not be able to take credit for her unsubtle antics throughout the book.
Lor: Paula’s had enough talking, though, and she lunges at Nancy. They scuffle a little before Nancy pushes Paula into the tower railing which gives way under her weight. Paula falls, hits the ground and finally dies. I’m tempted to put up another light show, but that feels like cheating.
AH FUCK IT.
Sweeney: Good call.
Lor: Nancy fills in the rest of the Whack Rafters: Paula invented the entire contest just to get Nancy in these woods. See, Nancy was responsible for closing the case that put Paula’s father in prison. He recently broke out of prison and died in the very woods they were walking. Paula wanted to exact her revenge by killing Nancy in the same woods because hitmen are overrated and death by river is much more exciting.
While they were up on the cliff, Paula hit Max over the head with a rock, clothed him in her jacket and pushed him over the cliff because he’d caught onto Paula’s evil plan. He remembered seeing Nancy’s picture in the papers when Paula’s father was arrested. Thankfully, the jacket helped buoy Max in the river and saved his life.
Mercedes, Paula’s cousin, was the one who tried to warn Nancy from coming.
So, everyone lives, except crazy, crazy Paula.
We end the book with Ned insinuating that Nancy looks a hot mess because he says, “it’s a good thing love is blind.”
I’m pretty sure the gang’s gonna need a vacation after this one.
Next time on Nancy Drew: GUYS. Nancy has a twin. Not really, but her next client happens to look exactly like her. What the hell is with children’s books and doppelgangers, huh? Find out next time on NDF #7 – Deadly Doubles.