Man, after reading this book, I have no clue why I thought they were so good as a teenager.
Nancy is running around campus when she sees Ned, which completely shocks her. See, this is the series where they decided to break up Ned and Nancy, so she has no idea why he's on her campus. Turns out that it's just some guy named Terry who looks a whole lot like Ned. He's the head of the film society on campus, and after she goes to a screening they host, he invites her to come back for a screening of the cult film Road to Nowhere. The son of the lead actress, one of the actors, and the DP will all be there too.
The thing I strongly dislike about this book is that there are like 900 characters all with their own stories. George is now dating some guy named Will, and everyone thinks they are perfect together. She starts getting sick of him and worrying that they seem like an old married couple, even though they've only dated for a few months.
Stephanie is a spoiled brat but somehow friends with all our girls. Her new step-mother convinces her dad that Stephanie has too much financial support. He lets her keep one credit card and then cuts her off. When she runs up that one card, she has to get a job in a department store, which leads to her whining all the time. She's also really mean to Pam, the one girl she knows who really works there, and is obsessed with some random guy who works as a stocker.
There's also this chick named Ginny and her boyfriend, who just found out that his band got a record deal. He keeps telling her how all their dreams have now come true and how they'll be oh so happy together. I give it to the first tour before they break up. Bess is also worried about her roommate Leslie because the girl went from super studious to a complete mess after getting a boyfriend and won't even study for finals.
We also have Eileen who is somehow gorgeous, smart, and generally perfect but can't find a guy. The other girls convince her to let them set her up on a blind date for the big fraternity/sorority dance, and Bess's boyfriend finds her the perfect guy in the form of a football player named Emmett. Eileen has a run in with a jock in the school gym who naturally turns out to be Emmett. Needless to say, their blind date is a disaster.
Now, back to Nancy! She shows up to the screening and finds out that it's one of those movies where people dress up like the characters, know all the words, and bring their own props. What makes it really odd is that it sounds like a depressing musical and not a fun movie. After the film, she learns that the head producer killed himself after having an affair with the lead actress and that she later disappeared. Some people think she killed him and made it look like a suicide after he dumped her. She also meets Sean, the son of the actress.
Sean tells her that his mom skipped town when he was a baby and left him with his dad. He tried to find her over the years and tracked her as far as Chicago before she disappeared again. Conveniently, Nancy has a journalism assignment to do an article on Mrs. Vanderbrock, a wealthy maven in town. The woman agreed to the interview until she realized it was about her and then practically slammed the door in Nancy's face. Every time she tries to schedule a new interview, the woman shoots her down.
While looking at pictures of Sean's mom, Nancy notices some similarities between her and Mrs. Vanderbrock. She does a little research and finds out that the woman met and married her husband in Chicago but there is nothing about her before then. Nancy goes to Sean, they go the woman's house, and the butler refuses to let them enter when he hears who is with her.
We also get to hear about this guy Jake from her journalism class and how he thinks Nancy is the most beautiful woman on campus. Even though they had plans to go to a skating party together, she stands him up and he learns that she made plans to go to the same party with Terry and Sean because she forgot about their plans. That doesn't sound like the Nancy Drew I love! No worries though, she skates with him a few times and even holds his hand before disappearing to talk with Sean some more.
Bess keeps worrying about Leslie, especially when she starts spending the night with her new boyfriend. Even though there's references to both Bess and George sleeping with their boyfriends, she thinks it's too soon for Leslie to do the same. They finally sit down and talk, and Leslie admits that she needs to focus more on her studies.
Stephanie gets transferred from the ladies department to the toy department and has a ton of problems. Some kids knocks over a display, and both his mom and her boss get mad at her for demanding he clean it up. The boss gives the kid a gift certificate to make up for her bad attitude, which pisses me off to no end, before deciding to transfer her once again. Her new boss makes it clear that this is her last chance.
Eileen tells everyone about her horrible date and whines/moans a bunch about how it was so terrible. Emmett then confesses to his roommate that he really does like her but that it's clear she hates him, so the guy convinces him to try and make it up to her. She's a huge bitch, so he has to be the good guy? Whatever. He leaves her a note, she calls him, and they decide to go out again.
Mrs. Vanderbrock calls Nancy to ask about Sean and then requests they come to her house. After she and Sean talk in private, they bring Nancy into the room. Turns out that she's actually his aunt, his mom's sister. After his mom left Hollywood, she moved to Chicago to live with her sister. When Mrs. Vanderbrock married, she refused to move to a new city with him, so Mr. Vanderbrock bought his mom a house in Europe.
The story goes that she had an affair and later broke it off with him to focus on her marriage. He asked her to come back for one last meeting, but when she got there, he was dead. There were signs of a struggle and some kind of rope or shoelace on the ground. After calling her husband for help, Sean's dad agreed to cover it up and make it look like a suicide if she agreed to give him a divorce and full custody before going away. She died of cancer three years ago without ever seeing her son again.
Jake comes over for a makeout session, but Nancy keeps getting distracted by photographs taken on set. She notices that Erika, the actress who came to town, wore a necklace on a satin ribbon in the pictures but wore a necklace with a leather thong in the film. Nancy ditches Jake to do some more research but doesn't find a whole lot.
At the next film society event, they show outtakes from the movie. Nancy notices that Erika wore the ribbon in the outtakes. She discovers that all the outtakes occurred on the last day of filming and confronts the woman. Instead of laughing it off, Erika breaks down and confesses. She and the producer had an affair later in the filming, and when he broke it off, she confronted him, they fought, and she accidentally killed him.
Nancy later tells Jake that the police arrested her and arranged for her to go back to California for a trial. She thinks Erika might claim self defense and get off, but he isn't too sure about that. They kiss again, and she invites him back to River Heights on their next break to meet Hannah and her dad. He says it sounds serious, and she tells him that while she likes Terry, she wants to get serious with him.
*A Nancy Drew book that mentions sex? I never thought I would see the day!
*I'm not a big fan of all the other stories in the book and all the characters. I'd rather have a straight up mystery.
*You have to love that Nancy keeps ignoring/avoiding/forgetting about Jake and how she gets weak in the knees when she sees Terry, but in the end, she decides that she likes Jake.
*Jake is no comparison to Ned. That is all.