...or, as it should be called: The Triple Dog Mega Secret Probation Jinx Mystery
This book was...really weird. Our story starts off with Nancy being asked to help a client of her father's whose exotic bird farm is set to be torn down by a local real estate company called "High Rise Company." Yes, the generic High Rise Company wants to pave paradise to put up a parking lot, so to speak, and they have pulled out all the stops to get Mr. Drew's client, Oscar Thurston to sell his farm. The Thurstons are your typical Nancy Drew sob story, a kindly old man and his handicapped wife who just want to keep their aviary and home. Mrs. Thurston, however, is a bit high strung, what with the constant threats. She insists they are being jinxed. No, DOUBLE JINXED. I'm betting my this story's end, Nancy and her fiends will be triple dog mega secret probation jinxed, but that's just a guess.
And I'm totally right! Nancy, Ned and their friends get into a mess of trouble, from obtaining some kind of bird flu after the exotic pets are poisoned to getting shoved over a dam. Each time something bad happens, someone says they must be jinxed and I'm starting to feel like I should be making the whole thing into a drinking game. They also keep saying the word "Eurasian" which I feel like might be semi-offensive but apparently is something people were described as. The Thurstons have a mysterious Eurasian house guest, Kamenka (or, Kammy) who is studying orinthology at the local college and she has a pet, a Eurasian bird named Petra. The rest of the book is so peppered with references to birds and people of Eurasian descent that I can't help but note that I would be extremely drunk right now if it were a drinking game.
Hmmmm. A reading drinking game. I might have to make that a thing.
The "mystery" of who is responsible for the sabotage, threats and bird poisoning incidents that have befallen the Thurstons is clearly going to lead back to this High Rise Company, so each dangerous incident ending in the jinxing, double jinxing, or dodectuple jinxing of our heroes kind of falls flat.
The criminals, clearly hired by the aforementioned HRC (and it's owner, Mr. Wright) have names like Spike, Merv Marvel and, I kid you not, Slick Fingers O' Maylay. Yet another example of why parents are really doing their children a disservice by naming them things like "Shifty," "Swindly," or "Slick Fingers." You're really setting those kids up for a life of crime, guys.
Most of the book sees Nancy lobbying the town council to vote for an addendum to the High Rise project that restores and maintains the Thurston's farm, and is really the only interesting part of the book, save for the bizarre ending. It's incredible how dull a book can be that contains repeated bomb threats.
In the end, Nancy "saves" the Thurstons by getting the council to vote to save it, and also manages to track down the criminals. Slick Fingers is easy enough to pin down, but Nancy is kidnapped by one of the main crooks, Merv Marvel. He is actually an ex high-jumper for the ballet, a real Baryshnikov (Nancy and Ned had discovered his involvement while looking for clues at the ballet). Apparently, Merv saw Nancy dancing--which she can do because of COURSE she can--and decides he wants to take Nancy to dance at his weird demonic coven.
Wait, back up (insert "truck backing up" sound)...
Yeah, this is where things get weird. Merv Marvel takes Nancy captive and suggests that she be his new "dancing partner." Nancy goes along with it to stay alive, and then the two of them dance-leap to this old barn, at which point it seems like Merv wants to take Nancy as his bride. When they enter the barn, Nancy sees a bunch of people in masks dancing in a "convulsive" and "snake-like" manner. At this point in the narrative, I'm doing cartoonish eye-rubbing double takes and wondering if I somehow forgot that this Nancy Drew book ends in an Eyes Wide Shut-esque orgy. It does not. Apparently, Marvel is part of a demonic cult that tricks weirdos and criminals into giving its "Grand Master" lots of cash. The whole thing is set up by--big surprise--the dude from the High Rise Company.
Wow. What a ludicrous way to end that story. A story in which, inexplicably, Nancy and everyone around is convinced that jinxes (DRINK!) are real and that bad luck is a thing. The whole novel feels kind of disjointed and not really befitting the Nancy Drew vibe.
I give this one a disappointing 2/5 mags.
Nancy Drew Drinking Game:
*Drink whenever Nancy has a double/doppelganger
* Drink whenever Nancy can somehow do everything perfectly (act, model, dance etc.)
*Drink whenever Bess is fat shamed
*Drink whenever Ned remarks about marrying Nancy and she totally blows him off
*Drink whenever George says "Hypers!"
*Drink whenever Bess is afraid
*Drink whenever someone is kidnapped
*Drink for every criminal with a hilarious name
*Drink whenever it's not a haunting
THE DOUBLE JINX MYSTERY:
*Drink whenever you see the word "Jinx"
*Drink whenever you see the word "Eurasian."
Congratulations. You're now dead.