Friday, February 19, 2016

Nancy Drew Mystery Stories #78: The Phantom of Venice (1985)

Nancy is on a plane to Venice to meet her dad and investigate a kidnapping case while thinking about Ned. At some point prior to this book, they decided to take a break and see other people. While she had fun with other guys, she talked to him before leaving and thinks that she's still in love with him. She then meets Tara, another girl on the plane also traveling to Venice.

Tara explains that she lives in the United States with her mom and stepdad while her dad lived in Italy and worked as an artist. He recently died, and she's on her way to go through his things. Once there, they drop off their bags in Tara's hotel room before going to visit her father's “lady friend,” Angela. They also meet Angela's younger brother Gianni. He's so gorgeous that he literally makes Nancy's heart stop.

Angela tells them that Rolf Elgan, Tara's father, worked as an artist and was on the canal with a friend late one night. A shot rang out, and when the friend turned around, Rolf was gone. She also presents Tara with an apron that has an Italian phrase on the front about breaking some eggs before making an omelet. According to Angela, Rolf was in the middle of designing a range of kitchen supplies for a local company.

When the two leave, Nancy asks the other girl why she got such a weird look on her face when she saw the apron. Tara tells her that her dad loved cooking but hated making omelets. After grabbing her stuff, Nancy finds Gianna waiting for her. Despite the fact that he spent most of the night hitting on Tara, he basically calls her a little girl and makes it clear that he has a thing for Nancy. She turns him down, snaps at him for probably using the same lines on all women, and storms off.

Nancy meets up with her dad at a house belonging to some royal guy who wants her to look into a kidnapping relating to his company. He owns one of the top glass blowing companies in Venice and received a ransom letter for his most talented artist, known only as Pietro. She agrees to check things out the next day. When she goes to unpack, she finds a curious shell in her suitcase and wonders if it belongs to Tara.

At the glass blowing shop, she meets the manager Don. Don seems disinterested in having her there and won't answer most of her questions. The ones he does answer, he gives short and simple responses. Nancy decides to pick out a blown paperweight for her aunt and somehow manages to pick the last piece created by Pietro. She then sees some cute blown glass animals, and Don reveals the man who made then was Rolf!

A bunch of random crap happens, like Tara deciding to move into the royal house to share a room with Nancy. Even though Don totally sounds like an older guy, it turns out that he's around Nancy's age. They spend a day sightseeing, come close to kissing, and she realizes that she likes him. Unfortunately, someone pushes her off a dock and she nearly topples over before he saves her.

Then Gianna shows shows up supposedly to ask out Tara but asks Nancy to join them. He spends the whole day ignoring Tara and focusing on Nancy, putting his arm around her, constantly touching her, and even trying to kiss her. Tara gets super pissed off and accuses Nancy of trying to steal him away before kind of getting over it. As an added bonus, he follows Nancy the next day and forces her to kiss him, which leads to her slapping him across the face. She does get one good date with Don, but that same night, someone in a skull mask breaks into their room and goes after Tara. Everyone pretty much blows it off and claims it's probably the old ghost of the house.

Nancy also goes sightseeing yet again. This time, she notices someone following her around. The man finally approaches her and starts to say something before seeing something behind her that makes him run. She gets back to find that someone once again broke in and rummaged through their stuff. The only thing missing though is the paperweight she bought. The girls have no time to worry though because they must take it to a masquerade ball. Priorities, ladies, priorities!

A man with a mask on comes up, grabs Nancy, and kisses her. It takes all of three seconds for her to realize that it's Gianni. She flips out on him yet again and threatens to tell security that he didn't have an invitation if he doesn't leave. Tara then bursts into tears and says that it's clear he doesn't want her before running off. Don shows up and despite having seen the whole thing, he claims that it's clear she likes someone else. You're totally right. When a girl likes a guy, she slaps him and pushes him away. Thanks for making Ned look like a hero! Anyway, the lights suddenly go out in the ballroom.

A man approaches her, tells her that Tara is in danger, and disappears before the lights come back on. Nothing is wrong except that there's a jeweled animal missing. Turns out that it was a fake on display but that someone dumped the valuable jeweled encrusted egg it was in and only took the animal.

Since Tara is clearly a bitch, she shows up later that night walking on air and fully fine with Nancy because she met some other guy. Tara also shows her a picutre of her dad when he was in the Marines that shows her with a man who is actually Pietro. Don is also fine now. They meet for lunch, and she even holds his hand despite him practically calling her a slut the night before. She gets his help to send letters to the glass blower shop because she has a plan in mind.

While chatting, Don reveals that he acted so rude to her initially because he thought she was absolutely beautiful and didn't know what to say to her. Now he's worried because he thinks he fell in love with her at first sight but he's engaged to someone back home. She tells him all about Ned, and they figure that sometimes you just fall for someone else, which makes me want to choke a bitch.

The end is pretty boring. It turns out that Rolf and Pietro were old fans and got in on some scheme to import illegal diamonds. They hid a diamond worth $500,000 in the paperweight she bought and hid it in the shop. The guy in charge of the scheme kidnapped Pietro when he wouldn't give it up. Oh, and Gianni was somehow involved in the whole thing. Cops arrest the bad guys, and it turns out that Tara's dad was alive the whole time. He was the one in the skull mask and the one who put the shell in Nancy's bag because he and Tara once collected the shells. I guess he spent the last few months just hanging out and waiting for things to blow over!

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