Nancy Drew And The Secret Of The Girl Detective
Flame-haired, affluent and composed, Nancy Drew was everything that her readers were not, and that was enough to make her a hero for generations of smart young girls.
The classic aspirational teen series had romance that reached beyond the saccharine of Francine Pascale’s Sweet Valley High and thrilling plots far past the muted mystery of Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven.
I first read her when I was 10 – the memorable Deadly Intent, where she went backstage at rock band Bent Fender’s concert and ended up investigating a kidnapping.
Colour me intrigued.
The character first came on the scene in the 1930s – long before my time – but she maintained a popular presence throughout the decades, offering young women a fiery, confident role model written under the collective pseudonym Carolyn Keene.
As a 16-year-old daughter of an attorney – Carson Drewe – Nancy made up for a missing mother by solving crimes and issues for her father.
The modern iteration, The Nancy Drew Files was launched in 1986, and it taught me everything I possibly wanted to know about becoming a young woman, never mind detective.
Veronica Mars before she was a twinkle in Neptune’s eye.
In Hit-and-Run Holiday, she was seeking the driver who mowed down her friend on a Florida break, while Murder on Ice saw Nancy and her friends in danger of death on the ski slopes.
The settings and situations were those we were only able to dream of with 50p pocket money a week in a one-horse town.
Add to the tightly-written mystery plotting the feminist force of a young woman who willfully thrust herself into the path of confrontation, danger and malice and you had an intoxicating combination.
Nancy’s boyfriend Ned Nickerson was a dreamy athletic big man on campus from the off, but he and Carson are no more than props for Nancy’s insatiable curiosity.
But where men are an incidental – albeit an affectionate one – Nancy’s two greatest weapons were Bess Marvin and George Fayne.
With Bess’ skittish femininity and cousin George’s down-to-earth tomboy nature, Nancy had what every young woman dreamed of, all ready to take on the world.
And she took all of us with her.