Modern Updates Can Kill, or the Nancy Drew Files

Anyone remember this series?  It came out around the same era as BSC/SVH, the late 80s/early 90s.  Basically they were an attempt to make Nancy Drew hip and modern, which means they’re like SVH with mysteries.  Amazingly, I found a bunch while moving, the only ones of my old books to survive (the ‘rents got rid of the rest when I was away at college).  A little ironic, since they were never as dear to me as SVH/BSC, but they’re certainly snarkable.  How can I turn down an opportunity like that?

The characters are the same, but 80s-fied–Bess is the blonde ditz, George is the great big lesbo fiesty jockette, and Ned Nickerson (I had to include his full name b/c it is truly one of the greatest fictional names of all time) is totally Nancy’s Ken doll.  This series would make a great basis for a movie–campy, anachronistic, awesomely ridiculous–that would wash away the taint of that trainwreck starring the tragically miscast Emma Roberts, which I will now go back to repressing.  My dream cast would be something like this:


K-Bell as Nancy


Amanda Seyfried as Bess (whee, Veronica Mars reunion!)


Ashley Greene as George


Zac Efron as Ned (I know, I fantasy cast him in everything)

But knowing our luck, if Hollywood ever touches this franchise again, they’d probably cast a Gossip Girl or nu!90210 alum as Nancy and make George into the Sassy Black Friend.

Anyway, I figured what better place to start than at the beginning, with Case #1: Secrets Can Kill?


(Sorry so small, but this is all Google gave me and I’m too lazy/tired to scan at 4am. I’ll do it tomorrow).

So Nancy goes undercover at a high school in order to investigate a string of thefts and vandalism.  But before she arrives, someone delivers a tape to her house.  On it is footage of herself, George, and Bess shopping, and a message warning Nancy to stay off the case.  But, being a plucky girl detective, Nancy is undeterred.

On the way to her first day of school, Nancy flirts with a guy driving a Porsche (sadly, this Porsche is not 1Bruce1) and drag-races him.  He’s blond, smooth, and totally 80s hot, you guys.

When Nancy arrives at school, the principal fills her in and introduces her to her contact, whose name is Daryl and who turns out to be none other than Porsche Boy!  Oh, and it turns out his eyes are the exact color of blueberries.

He was chosen to show Nancy around since he’s so popular and well-liked, and he knows everyone.  Just the guy to help Nancy keep a low profile during her investigation!  The ghostie also goes into rather nauseating detail about how attracted to each other these two are, and I was wishing they would get a room already before we even got through the scene.

During her first few days at school, Nancy encounters a variety of characters.  First there’s Walt “Hunk” Hogan (… really, what can you say to that?), the requisite football jock.

Then there’s Carla, the Bedford High It Girl and Daryl’s ex-GF, who immediately develops a hate-on for Nancy.

There’s Connie, an overly-friendly nerd girl with self-esteem issues.

Finally there’s Hal, the class brainiac.

Apparently Nancy is not schooled in Know Your Losers b/c she takes pity on Connie and hangs out with her.  Connie gives Nancy the dirt on many of her classmates, which makes me wonder what the point of Daryl was.  Isn’t he supposed to give her the inside info?  All he’s done so far is be dreamy and dazzle her with his blueberry eyes, which I suppose answers my question.  Later, Nancy asks Carla directions to the video lab, but Carla’s bogus directions instead lead Nancy to the boiler room.  Here, she encounters Jake, the school’s Obligatory Psychotic Jackass™.

Luckily, Daryl shows up just in time to rescue her.  Later that week, the two lovebirds go on a romantic drive in Nancy’s Mustang.  But Nancy’s brakes go out while they’re on a winding country road, and they crash on the side of the road. Nancy investigates and finds that her brakes have been cut.  But then she realizes that the gas tank was ruptured in the crash, and she and Daryl escape just before the car explodes.  They’re thrown to the ground, and what’s their first instinct in a situation like this? 

They make out, of course.

The next day at school, there’s a big conundrum with cops and all.  Turns out Jake Webb was murdered!  Oh Jake, we barely knew ye.  More determined than ever to get to the bottom of this, Nancy breaks into Jake’s locker, where she finds a video camera battery pack, wire cutters, and a box full of seemingly random items–Connie’s antique bracelet, a newspaper article about Walt battling an injury, and SAT answers.  Nancy deduces that Jake is probably the one who filmed Nancy at the mall but hasn’t figured out what all those random items mean.

Then Nancy runs into her arch nemesis, bottom-feeding reporter Brenda Carlton.

They exchange words, and Nancy makes a deal to give Brenda the scoop as long as she leaves Nancy’s name out, and only after Nancy has solved the case.

Nancy finally gets a chance to investigate the video lab, where she finds a tape labelled “I Spy.”  But wait–someone else is in the lab with her!  Fortunately, Nancy is able to give the lurker the slip, escaping with the tape.  Turns out it contains footage of several Bedford High students caught doing shady things–Walt taping up his ribs, Connie shoplifting, Hal stealing SAT answers.  I’m disappointed there’s no sex tape.  Come on, footage of Daryl doing some MILF on parents’ night would’ve been glorious.  Actually, there is footage of Daryl on the tape, but sadly, it’s not that.  Instead, it’s just him driving out to some diner in the middle of nowhere where he meets a shady-looking dude and accepts an envelope from him, then goes off and delivers it to some house.

Nancy, gutted that her loverboy might be a suspect, immediately heads out to investigate.  They drive out to the diner to find it’s right near an Air Force defense plant.  Then they drive to the house where Daryl delivered the envelope, and find it’s a compound housing USSR diplomats.  Oh, 80s, how I love you.  Then some guys with guns come after Nancy, who manages to evade them by racing through the streets of Bedford and finally pulling into a crowded pizza joint (no, really).  Their pursuers drive off, not wanting to chance creating a scene in front of all those people.

In the pizza joint, Nancy discovers Carla breaking bread with Brenda.  The encounter inspires Nancy to get a brainwave on how to get Daryl to spill.  Since Bess’s boyfriend is in the band playing at the school dance, both she and Nancy will be there.  Nancy also gets George to come, setting her up with Ned (who’s visiting from college that weekend) as her date.  I’m not really sure how George and Ned will get to crash (or Bess, for that matter) since it’s been my experience that you need a date who actually, say, goes to that school in order to attend its dance, but ehhh.  Like most YA plot holes, I’ll just go with it.

So Nancy goes to the dance with Daryl and she’s still all hot for him, despite Ned’s being there and Daryl being a possible suspect.  They hang at the dance for a while and then ditch to go make out in Daryl’s car, which they do for a while until Nancy decides now is the opportune time to confront him.  Naturally, he totally flips shit and threatens Nancy.  But, according to plan, Bess, George, and Ned show up.  Daryl tries to run away but Ned tackles him, and now Nancy’s all about Ned again.  I guess being roughed up and threatened will do that to you.  Daryl spills his guts, saying he only threatened Nancy to scare her off, and that the real killer is Mitch Dillon, the shady dude from the defense plant (oh, and Daryl was also the video lab lurker).  Jake, not content with just blackmailing Daryl, decided to blackmail Mitch, too.  Not too bright, this Jake fellow. 

So Nancy makes a plan–Daryl will meet Mitch at the park and try to get him to confess to Jake’s murder.  Meanwhile, Nancy will film the encounter from a hiding place while Daryl records a the convo on a tape player hidden in his clothes.  Everything is going smoothly enough until Brenda bungles it, by taking a picture with her flash camera thus tipping Mitch off.  Mitch grabs Brenda and holds her at gunpoint.  Nancy keeps Mitch talking, getting him to confess to Jake’s murder, until Daryl makes his move. In the ensuing struggle, Daryl gets shot in the shoulder while Nancy attempts to tackle Mitch but instead gets decked.  Oh, Nancy, you are no Buffy.  Ned and Bess’s boyfriend manage to catch Mitch, and George gets the whole thing on tape. 

So they got the bad guy, Brenda gets her story, and it turns out Daryl will be OK.  Nancy confesses to Ned about Daryl, and it’s awkward, but I’m sure the incident will totally be forgotten by the next book.  These two are so the proto Liz and Todd.  And, to quote JKR, all is well… until next time!

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5 thoughts on “Modern Updates Can Kill, or the Nancy Drew Files

  1. I was always a big ND fan, but the Files annoyed me because everyone was so stereotypical.
    LOL at the blueberry eyes 😀

  2. I had a few of these books! I remember my mom buying a couple because I read the original books and she thought I’d like them. In a random twist, I saw six of these at a flea market last week for 25 cents and the guy offered all six to me for a buck lol

  3. Oh, lord. This was the ONLY one of those books I read. I was about 13 and very uncritical of writing style, yet even I choked on those dratted blueberry eyes.

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