Friday, March 10, 2017

The Nancy Drew Files #81: Making Waves (1993)

Nancy, Ned, Bess, and Bess's new boyfriend Parker are off to Maryland for a few days. Parker's cousin Andy owns a boat design company and invited them to help him and his partner in an upcoming regatta. Even though Bess knows nothing about sailing, Ned and Nancy went sailing before. I'm assuming that's because the two of them have done absolutely everything there is to do in the world.

Andy takes them to his house, which looks like a plantation house from Gone with the Wind, and shows them where they can stay. At a party that night, they meet his partner Nick and Nick's wife Annabel. Nick is a huge flirt who can't keep his eyes off other woman, and Annabel is a huge bitch. I say that because she spends the whole night draped all over Andy, refuses to give him time alone with his friends, constantly talks smack about her husband, and practically hisses when another woman comes near Andy.

The next day, they learn that Nick took his boat out and never came back. They sail off and find the boat abandoned at sea. There is, however, a bullet hole on the boat and a trail of blood leading over one side. Annabel seems almost happy at the idea of her husband being dead. She even tells them not to bother calling the police, which makes her suspect number one.

It doesn't take long before Andy becomes a suspect too. It has a lot to do with the fact that he immediately spends all his time with Annabel. It turns out that they once dated, but she dumped him for Nick and married the other guy a few months after meeting him. When they had problems in their marriage, Andy came around to “comfort” her. Yeah, I don't like this guy.

More circumstantial evidence turns up. Employees at the design shop heard the two men fighting over money, there is a bunch of money missing, and Andy claims he has no idea about anything. The cops find a bullet casing on the boat that matches the gun Andy has but never told anyone about. Luckily, he has a rich family or his ass would be in jail.

While checking out the boat shop, Nancy finds a man sneaking around. He knocks her down and punches out Ned before running off, but Parker actually catches him. His name is Stan, and he's a PI hired by the company's insurer. It turns out that Nick filed two claims on missing boats in the last year. He hired Leah and Mick, a married couple, to deliver boats to clients. One was lost at sea. The second boat was also lost, but the Coast Guard found Leah in a raft on the ocean. She claimed pirates attacked and killed her money. Despite paying out $600,000, there is no proof the company ever got a dime.

The gang heads to Leah's house and sees her sneaking out. She meets up with a man with long hair, gets all handsy, and then disappears into a bar with him. Nancy later sees her when they go out to dinner, but she gets distracted by the waitress. The waitress wants to talk about the resident homeless man, Old Bill, and how no one seems to care that he went missing. Annabel keeps trying to change the subject and tells Nancy that she needs to mind her own business and shut the hell up about mysteries already. See? I hate her.

While walking home that night, someone pushes Nancy off the pier and into the water. Ned dives in to save her and drags her onto another boat so they can get back on the pier. Annabel basically rolls her eyes about how Nancy clearly needs to be the center of attention all the time and whines to Andy about how they'll never get back at this pace. Yes, because someone almost drowning is so totally inconvenient.

Stan comes through with some big information. He finds that the boat company kept paying out large sums of money to a lumber company, way more than it should. All the checks have Andy's signature on them. The evidence against Andy keeps mounting, but Nancy decides that somebody must be framing him because there's no way he would be dumb enough to leave behind such a trail.

The PI also finds a link between the boat company and a guy named Bill. Bill seemingly lived a normal life for 30 years, then stopped using his social security number, and then stopped using it a few years ago. Nancy realizes that someone stole Old Bill's identity and sneaks into Leah's house. She finds a passport in Bill's name with Nick's picture on it and tickets out of town. Leah comes home and makes a phone call, telling the person on the other end that they need to leave town now.

Nancy and the gang follow her car but lose her in the crowd. After literally accidentally stumbling across Old Bill's body, they get to the marina in time to see Nick and Leah on a boat. Annabel gets them on her own boat and tries to follow them but loses them on the water. Nick actually circles back around though, just so he can tell them all about his evil plot. He seriously does that, but it's something like he wants to get rid of them in case they have any real evidence.

Nick's evil plot involved stealing a ton of money from the company because he knew it would fail. He then stole Old Bill's identity and waited for him to die of natural causes before completely taking over his identity. Leah and her husband helped him on the insurance scam, but they then fell in love and killed her husband. While he talks, Andy sneaks through the dark and literally throws himself at Nick. They get the boats back to the marina and to the waiting cops.

Andy is a little bummed about losing his company, but wait, there's more! Annabel agrees to use her family money to become his new partner and help him come up with a brand new design. As they look at each other with love in their eyes, Nancy thinks that Annabel might not be so bad after all. Nope, she's worse.

*Annabel is seriously awful! Here's an idea: maybe you don't marry someone you've known for like two months and then run back to your ex-boyfriend when things get rough.

*Andy is just as bad. This chick dumps you for your rich friend, things don't work out, she comes back to you, and you just welcome her with open arms. Grow a pair!

*Not only does Nancy NOT cheat on Ned in this book, but she also gets through the whole thing without getting knocked over the head. I'm so proud of her!

*Parker and Bess are actually kind of cute together. I miss the old, old books where all three girls had serious guys. It's kind of irritating to see all of them, but Bess especially, fall for someone new all the time.

*Nancy puts Stan on her suspect list, not because she has any evidence, but because it takes him a few hours to return her calls. She seriously asks him to run a search in the morning and then suspects him when he hasn't responded to her by the early afternoon. Does she know how long it takes to actually run a credit check or something like that?

*She could probably learn a thing or two from him though. Stan is...not afraid to break or bend the law. He gets his “friends” to run Andy's credit, which is totally legal, but then they do all this other stuff to research the company and its finances, which are totally not above board.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Sweet Valley High #68: The Love Bet

Since Todd and Elizabeth cannot keep out of other people's business, they decide to make a love bet. Both Dana and Aaron are completely against the idea of love, dating anyone, and being in any type of relationship. So, naturally they're the two people in the world who should totally be together forever. Jessica is naturally displeased with this plan because she occasionally dates Aaron and thinks it's shitty of her twin to mess with her dating pool. Of course she does.

First step? Make each one think that the other is crazy in love. They start dropping not at all subtle hints. When she knows Dana is stopping by the Oracle office, Liz gets her friends to talk real loudly about how Aaron has a crush on someone and get all embarrassed when she enters. Todd does the same thing with Winston and some of the others to Aaron.

Though they set up a double date type thing, it doesn't go so well. See, Dana just had an article published in the Oracle about her new song, which is all about how dating sucks. Aaron brings it up and talks about how he agrees with her, which leads to her being surprised and then also agreeing with him. They both decide that being in love with someone stinks and is something neither wants to ever do again.

Their second attempt goes a little better. They make plans to double date, but then Liz cancels with the excuse that she needs to suddenly watch Teddy for Mr. Collins. The two kind of bond on their faux date. Aaron also invites her to watch his soccer game because soccer so similar to music in how a whole group needs to work together.

Dana also gets a mushy card in her locker and shows it to Liz as proof that Aaron likes her. The only problem is that Todd wrote the card. Though Todd claims that he did it to push the relationship forward, Liz thinks he did it to win their bet. Whoever loses will have to do three tasks for the winner. I don't think Todd gives a shit if he has to carry your books, Liz.

On their date, Aaron is a little nervous to tell Dana how he feels. She tells him it's okay and that she knows before pulling out the card. Aaron then realizes that it's Todd handwriting, which mortifies Dana. She decides that Todd and Liz were just playing games with people, which granted they were, and she runs away before Aaron can tell her how he actually feels. Dana does, however, take the time to explode on Liz and make it clear that they are no longer friends.

Aaron finally does get Dana alone though and finally does tell her how he feels. Since she feels the same way, they kiss and decide that they are in love. They now have to get their good friends back together again. Liz and Todd both get the same card with a typed note inside apologizing and asking to meet. They get together and see the new couple honk and ride off together. Liz decides that she won the bet and asks for her three things: that they never fight over anything stupid again, that they always be this happy and in love, and that Todd kiss her right now. Gag me with a spoon.

In other news, The Droids are no longer the hottest band in Sweet Valley, so someone decides to host a Battle of the Bands competition. Jessica, still pissed that Aaron is out of her dating pool, gets Lila to go with her and be roadies for this band called Spontaneous Combustion. They dress all in black, have long and unwashed hair, smoke a lot of cigarettes, and have names like Weasel. The guys call them chicks and make them do a ton of work.

The night of the competition, Lila shows up with a “hurt” wrist wrapped in a bandage and can't help. The guys keep yelling at Jess, so she stops caring. She plugs in instruments all wrong and then just walks away. They wind up blowing their amps and naturally losing.

*If Jessica is this upset about Aaron dating someone else, wait until she gets to Sweet Valley Confidential!

*BTW, this isn't even Aaron's first serious girlfriend. Liz mentions that he's against love because his last relationship ended so badly, so why does she even care?

*Dana gets sad during a rehearsal because she doesn't really have any good friends to talk to her about her thoughts. I always assumed The Droids were like best friends and hung out all the time. Plus, she literally lives with her cousin.

*I'm shocked that Sweet Valley has enough bands for an entire competition, especially since The Droids are the only band anyone ever talks about.

*Dana and Aaron literally have nothing in common, so I'm not surprised that their break up is barely mentioned in passing later.

*Wouldn't it be great to have a SVH book where a couple meet, date for a few weeks, and then start wondering when to bring up the L-word instead of immediately falling in love after one kiss?

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Nancy Drew Files #83: Diamond Deceit

Nancy and George are a little worried after Bess goes to Carmel, California with her parents for vacation and then doesn't come back with them. Bess calls, acts a little suspicious, and begs them to come out and see her. She agrees to pick them up from the airport and let them stay in the same bed and breakfast as her. They arrive, find no sign of Bess, and wind up renting a car to get into town.

The Mendez family who own the B&B are super sweet and suggest they might find her working in their cafe downtown. While on the way there, they see a jewelry store and see a large and angry man yelling at someone else. They finally find Bess, who as it turns out, recently got a job in the cafe as a pastry chef. I know, right? Apparently, Bess took classes from an award winning chef in the past. The cafe needed help, she agreed to help out a little, and her dishes became so popular that people just kept coming back.

She introduces them to Ted, the son of the owners. Though he's handsome, he's also a HUGE jackass. He keeps whining about Bess rushing off to spend time with her friends instead of him and complaining about what will happen if she leaves for five seconds. The man they saw yelling pops up, and to no one's surprise, he's best friends with Ted. Len, the yelling man, introduces them to his fiance Marcia who runs the jewelry store.

It turns out that Bess invited them to town because of a mystery. Marcia got a job designing a necklace for movie star Joanna Burton. The woman had an old necklace and wanted her diamonds put in a new setting. Marcia did the job, everyone was seemingly happy, and then Joanna accused her of replacing the diamonds with fake stones. There were marks on the new necklace that proves someone took out the real stones. Nancy agrees to look into things but isn't too happy because Len scares the crap out of her.

The other reason Bess asked them to come out is because she's giving serious thought to moving there permanently. Even though she'll miss River Heights and her besties, she likes the idea of starting over on her own and being a real pastry chef. Ted seems less enthused when they aren't as happy with her plans and keeps whining about how they planned to meet his parents for dinner. Nancy tries to do some sleuthing, but Bess is too worried about how Ted is waiting for them. When they finally get there, he throws a massive hissy fit over them being literally five minutes late.

Nancy heads into town and meets Cy, who becomes suspect number one. He owns the leading jewelry design studio in town and once employed Marcia before a falling out that led to her opening her own shop. He has a unique cuckoo clock in his shop that Nancy likes and an assistant named Rachel who seems overly nervous. The clock is important because Nancy later gets a threatening letter with a similar clock smashed in the box.

In the hopes of getting to the bottom of things, she calls Joanna and schedules an appointment to see her the next day. After getting there and finding the house empty, she heads outside and sees the poor woman dead on the beach, after apparently falling down the stairs. Her agent Stephanie shows up as well as Morgan, the head of her neighborhood's private security firm. To make things worse, someone in a white man with a stylized drawing on the side tries to run her and George off the road. That same drawing matches the logo of Len's new company.

The cops come and take in Marcia for questioning despite not having any evidence. Nancy confronts Len to see if he drove them off the road, which he denies. Marcia comes back just in time to tell them that she was with Len that morning. He had a falling out with Burton over some landscaping he did for her and had a job that morning with her neighbor. Marcia followed him to make sure he didn't do anything stupid.

Nancy heads back to Cy's shop with some questions and instead finds his assistant acting shifty. Rachel has an autographed photo of some movie star on her work bench, which she acts embarrassed about and hides away. Stephanie pops up to ask Nancy about selling some of her stories to Hollywood. She later comes back with Morgan, who is her newest client

When Nancy gets a secret message asking her to meet someone on the beach for more information, she does. That person arranges for a boulder to almost fall on her, which leads to her spraining her ankle trying to get away.

Ted then gets upset that Bess dares to take time away from the cafe to help her friend. She and George stay with Nancy that night and try to watch a movie Burton made where she stole some diamonds until poor Nancy crashes on her pain pills. Bess makes desserts for the next day and makes Ted promise to put everything away, but he calls her the next day to claim that he forgot, the pastries were ruined, and she needs to come back right away and make something new.

After watching the rest of the movie, Nancy puts all the pieces together. She leaves a note for the girls and heads back to Burton's house. That's where she finds that Burton did the exact same thing she did in the movie: she stole the diamonds, put them in the ice tray, filled it with water, and hid it in the freezer. Unfortunately, Morgan and Stephanie were in on the whole thing but couldn't find the diamonds. Burton hadn't worked in years and could only get her big comeback job if she financed the film. Stephanie wanted her to sell the necklace, but she couldn't because her dead husband gave it to her.

Stephanie then convinced her to steal the diamonds and use the insurance money to finance the film. They planned on framing Rachel, and Morgan hid evidence in her apartment. Rachel previously worked on a film with the actor she had the picture of, but stole a prop ring because she thought it was cool. It was a real antique worth a lot of money. Stephanie caught her and instead of helping her like she promised, turned her in and had her fired.

Nancy accidentally reveals the hiding spot for the diamonds, so Morgan knocks her out. She wakes up on a rock about to be crushed by a wave, but she gets her hands free and rushes off the rock to find Bess and George looking for her. They got concerned after they saw her note but couldn't find her. Nancy takes them back to the house, where Stephanie and Morgan are stunned to find her still alive, tells the cops everything, and watches as they get arrested before she goes back to the hospital.

In the end, Bess decides that there really is no place like home. She takes Ted out for a walk and comes back to tell the girls that she's not staying. He's just a little too jealous and possessive for her tastes. They all hug and cry. Bess reveals that she might try baking back home because it was nice for someone to tell her that she matters. Nancy cries again and tells her that she really is the greatest. Aw, I kind of liked that ending!

*I guess this was back before rental car companies stopped renting to drivers under the age of 25?

*Joanna Burton lives in a fancy gated community, which is totally normal, but you don't need to be on a list to get inside. The guard just charges you a small fee for a pass, which seems dangerous and not at all safe.

*There is literally no resolution regarding the person who tried to drive them off the road. They say it wasn't Len, but they don't tell us who actually did it.

*Nancy would make an awesome Netflix series! I'd love to see them do some of the classic stories and some of the more modern ones. The Emma Roberts movie, which I just watched for the first time last week, was cute but a little too young.

*Ted is such an ass! He literally spends the whole book trying to keep Bess away from her friends because he's worried that they'll try to change her mind and make her leave. He sabotages her work so she'll stay, and he completely ignores Nancy and George whenever possible. Oh yeah, he sounds like a real winner.