Friday, June 16, 2017

Nancy Drew Mystery Files #108: The Secret of the Tibetan Treasure (1992)

Nelson Stone, the curator of the brand new Clinton Park Museum, calls Nancy and asks for her help solving a mystery. Though she isn't happy at the idea of skipping tennis, George agrees to go with her to the museum, and Bess puts off yet another shopping trip to go too. Clinton Park is a town not far away from River Heights. Amanda Lane, a super rich lady in town, donated her family home to the city to build a museum, and the city hired Stone to run it.

Nancy meets Su-Lin, a college student working as an associate curator, and her grandfather, who is the gardener. Stone takes her into the exhibit hall to show her the Golden Horse, the museum's prized possession. He recently spent one million dollars on it, which the museum board didn't like. Hillary Lane, the great-niece of Amanda Lane, is unhappy too because she lost the sculpture, which is made of real gold and jewels, to him at auction.

When they go back to his office to talk, he tells her that he got a threatening letter in the mail and that someone wants him dead. He then suddenly remembers that he didn't lock the Golden Horse back up, rushes to the exhibit hall, and finds that someone stole it. The cops come and launch a full investigation, but Nancy decides to check things out on her own.

She discovers a gold earring left behind and sees red purse in an office. Su-Lin tells her that the office belongs to Margaret Parker, Stone's assistant but that she's off for the day. When she goes back, the purse is gone. Hillary Lane then makes an appearance and whines about how the board never should have hired Stone. It turns out that she desperately wanted the curator job for herself, which makes sense because she's also an art history advanced degree holder with years of experience and a published author in the field.

Nancy winds up going to see Hillary under the guise of wanting to buy tickets for a big dog show she holds. Hillary is a little hesitant to let her in but quickly warms up to her because she knows Carson, Nancy's dad. She even takes her in to show Nancy her private collection of antiques, which includes a second Golden Horse. Hillary explains that it's part of a matched set, which is why she wanted the one stolen from the museum.

The girls wander across a car accident with Stone behind the wheel. He tells them that his brakes failed and it's proof that someone wants him dead. Nancy tracks down the mechanic working on the car and finds Margaret Parker actually inside the car. She claims that she lost an earring in her boss's car that morning, then gets flustered when Nancy asks her about the theft, and she claims that she wasn't actually at the museum that day at all. The mechanic finds proof that someone cut the brake lines with what looks like a hacksaw.

Nancy and the gang go back to see Stone and arrive just as he gets home. He finds a box of fancy chocolates on his porch, and despite clear hints from Bess, he acts really stingy and puts them away. Stone calls Nancy the next day to tell her that his neighbor's dog got in his trash, found the chocolates he conveniently threw away, and nearly died. Though she points out that eating an entire box of chocolates would make any dog sick, he's convinced someone tried to poison him.

Su-Lin then calls to tell Nancy that Stone fired her grandfather. She heads over to their house and learns that the man fired him after claiming that a hacksaw went missing, which he blamed on him. They tell her all about how he screams at workers all the time and acts like a pompous jerk. Nancy goes back to the museum to search for the hacksaw and actually finds it, but someone pushes her down, steals the saw, and then locks her in the tool shed. Su-Lin gives her an elegant and fancy necklace that is an antique from her family. She tells Nancy the necklace will keep her safe as long as she never opens the locket.

At the dog show, the girls meet Justin Todd and his wife, Fiona. Fiona falls in love with the necklace and asks if her husband can see it because he makes replicas of antiques. He flips out on her and claims that he would never do something like that. When she keeps talking about a job he just worked on in his jewelry shop, he pretty much grabs her by the arm and drags her away. She later overhears his wife talking about some big replica he just made from Professor Herbert, which he doesn't want anyone to know about. Herbert is a professor at a local college who teaches art history and classes on antiquities. He meets Nancy and seems like a normal guy though.

Bess, George, and Nancy stop by Todd's jewelry shop when he's gone and pretend to the clerk that they find jewelry making fascinating. He lets them check out the workshop while he helps a customer, and Nancy manages to find a mold to make a Golden Horse! She also learns that the letter Stone got came from the typewriter in his own office and discovers that he made the whole thing up.

While on the way home, they notice a tan car following them. A completely different car tries to run her and George off the road, but the cops rush to help, claiming that someone called in a report. That someone is Margaret Parker, who was in the tan car behind them. Margaret refuses to talk to Nancy and pretty much runs away.

Hoping to talk more with Herbert, Nancy stops by his office. He keeps talking about her necklace and ignoring all her other questions. When his secretary comes in with news about something he plans on selling, he rushes Nancy outside. On the spur of the moment, she steals the ribbon from his typewriter and rushes outside. She and George find that it's a note to someone named Sharp about setting up a deal to sell the real Golden Horse.

Before they can do anything smart like take it to the cops, they decide to sneak back into his office and look for the horse. They instead get caught by the professor who, for some strange reason, has two attack dogs with him. I repeat, he has two attack dogs standing guard over his office on a college campus in the middle of the night. He forces them outside and into his car, where he drives them to a secluded cabin.

College professor and two barely legal girls in a cabin in the middle of nowhere is not the start to amateur porn. It's really just an excuse for him to get rid of Nancy. After taking the necklace from her, he ties them up and sets the cabin on fire. He then makes the mistake of opening the necklace, which causes a red powder to come out and blind him. The two girls escape, but Nancy feels bad enough that she goes back inside and rescues him.

Once the cops arrest Herbert, he reveals the location of the real Golden Horse. It turns out that he authenticated the real thing, stole it, and then replaced it with plans to sell the original. The cops ask Nancy to go undercover and help them set up Sharp, the go between. Nancy takes an envelope and meets with Sharp, who is actually Justin Todd. Realizing it's a set up, he forces Nancy in his car and drives off.

That's when the full story comes out. Todd and Herbert worked together to con Stone and steal the real Golden Horse to sell it. He then made a replica and put it back in the museum. Nancy convinces him that she's just a student Herbert asked to do a favor for in exchange for extra credit. When he takes her back to drop her off, the cops surround his car and arrest him.

In the end, it turns out that Stone found out the Golden Horse was a fake and forced Margaret Parker to help him steal it. He planned on using the insurance money to cover up his mistake and buy more artifacts, so he winds up arrested too. The museum board hires Hillary to be the new curator, and she can't wait to see the Golden Horse on display. She also hires back Su-Lin and her grandfather.

*Hillary is a suspect because she's so unhappy that her aunt left the family house to the city. Given that she's her aunt's last of kin and multiple generations of her family were born there, I can totally see her side of things.

*The museum has its own security guard, but he's some random old man who slept through the whole theft and is actually still asleep when the cops get there.

*At one point, someone breaks the window on her car and leaves a threatening note in the backseat with a knife through it. They basically just blow it off as another part of the job. It's weird too because it never gets mentioned again, and Nancy never mentions getting her car repaired.

*The red powder inside the locket is a type of chili powder that Tibetan people used for protection, which explains why it temporarily blinded Herbert.

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Nancy Drew Files #42: The Wrong Chemistry (1989)

Dean Jarvis, who is so not the dean who Nancy helped out in the past, calls Nancy to Emerson College to help him with a case. Professor Maszak is a visiting professor from the Soviet Union working with some compound called CLT that someone keeps stealing. He swears it isn't dangerous, but the thefts might ruin his experiment. Nancy agrees to help out and go undercover as a recent transfer student while still secretly hoping that she can spend some time with Ned.

While on the way to meet him, she has a run in with some students when she almost runs over their friend in the middle of the road. She meets Karen, the leader of this group called Protect Our Environment, and Phillip Bangs, an adult she assumes is their sponsor. They tell her that they're rehearsing for a protest they plan on doing when a senator visits campus because he wants to sell off nature preserves and national forests.

Nancy finally meets up with Ned and his friends, and things go well until she brings up POE. Ned suddenly turns all dark and stormy and won't even look her in the eye. When she tries to touch him, he shrugs off her arm and claims he needs to get to class right away. He also blows off plans for their date later that night, and she finds him in the cafeteria with some chick named Angela. It turns out that Angela is on the fence about joining POE, and Ned wants to change her mind. He tells them that he doesn't trust the organization and that he thinks they do things the wrong way.

In the hopes of actually working on her case, Nancy stops by Maszak's office and meets both him and his assistant, Sara. They both seem pretty disorganized and Sara makes a first year chem major mistake of mixing two different chemicals and almost blowing up the lab. Nancy does some research on her own and finds out that Maszak is working on an experiment to use a human growth hormone on different species to help them grow.

Ned gets the bad news that Angela left to join the group and convinces Nancy to go with him to check things out. It turns out that all POE members live together in an abandoned office complex off campus and in some other random abandoned buildings. Karen tells them that Angela decided to live with them and went home to get permission from her parents to move off campus. Bangs randomly shows up and claims he was supposed to leave the day before but missed his flight and Karen was nice enough to let him stay there. Ned finds the whole thing suspicious because Angela's dad actually passed away, so she couldn't get his permission.

Further investigation reveals that someone dropped an earring near the scene of the last theft that looks like a coiled snake. Conveniently, all the female members of POE wear the same thing. While back at the lab, someone hits Nancy over the head (of course) and locks her in a closet before setting the room on fire. Nancy manages to wrap lab coats around her head, break the door down and escape.

While investigating the fire, she finds a hidden door, which the security guard explains is actually an elevator that they no longer use. Nancy uses her lock picking skills to unlock the door and start the elevator, which takes them to an unused basement. Realizing that the thief probably used that as his/her escape, she plans to come back later and check it out.

When she does, she finds tunnels leading to other buildings that the maintenance crew once used. She finds one and follows it almost all the way across campus. It brings her almost directly to the front door of Professor Maszak. He goes off her suspect list though when he tells her that he's trying to find a cure for his wife's illness and he really wants to get a job at Emerson to cover her medical bills. Nancy figures that ruining his experiment probably wouldn't lead to a job offer.

After some more investigating, she learns that Bangs was a professor where Maszak once worked and where someone stole his CLT and some other problems occurred. Even though Bangs told her POE was unique to Emerson, it turns out that there was a branch on that other campus. To make matters worse, someone calls and tells her they have Ned..

Nancy sneaks into a POE meeting and finds out that they are bat shit crazy. Bangs encourages them to take fake guns that look like real guns to the protest with the senator to make sure they get their point across. She keeps waiting for someone to speak up and say this is a terrible idea but no one does. When the talk ends, she manages to sneak upstairs and finds both Ned and Angela tied up and drugged.

Bangs comes in and does the classic villain thing where he confesses everything. He doesn't realize that Karen is right outside and listening. He tells her how he stole the CLT and plans on selling it to the highest bidder. They can put it in any water supply and watch as it magnifies the bacteria of that area and kill anyone who drinks it. When Karen pops back up and threatens to call for help, Bangs turns tail and runs.

Nancy chases him and gets caught in the crowd, but luckily some of Ned's friends see her and help her through. She hops in her car and chases Bangs while noticing someone following her. Bangs goes back to the POE office and tries to attack Nancy, but she conveniently finds a cast iron pan that she knocks him over the head with just as the police arrive. Turns out that another of Ned's friends saw her leave, tailed her, and called the cops.

All is well that ends well. Ned and Angela make a miraculous recovery from their drugging, and Karen asks Angela to help her make POE into the kind of organization that doesn't do crazy things like drug water supplies. Ned asks Nancy for a second chance at their romantic date, and she responds by telling him that they can just order pizza in her room...alone...

*It's funny that when the dean first meets Nancy, he can't get over how young she is. Given that she's helped this college like 900 times already, you'd think he would get over it.

*This is one of those times where the college gives Nancy her own room on campus, which has its own private bathroom. I have no idea how that keeps happening because there was a long, long, long waiting list for those rooms at my college.

*Nancy points out that maybe Amanda didn't tell Karen and the others that her dad died, but I have to disagree. If I trusted some random people so much that I was basically giving up college for them, I would most definitely tell them something like that.

*I have a hard time believing that Ned and Nancy haven't yet done the deed, but they'll probably just eat pizza, play Monopoly, and have a good night kiss before he goes back to his own room.

*It's weird to me that every time she visits Emerson, she's either in a room by herself or with another girl. Even in the late 80s, I'm sure colleges had guys and girls sleeping together LOL.

*Maszak gets an offer of tenure to stay at Emerson, teach, and keep working on his experiments as well as getting health insurance for his wife.

*Despite Bangs being behind the whole thing, he's not even a suspect on the list at the beginning! I hate when that happens! The suspects were Maszak, Karen, and Sara, the assistant who was in two scenes and then disappeared.