Saturday, June 4, 2016

Book #51: The Mystery of the Glowing Eye

James Patterson presents 
The Mystery of the Glowing Eye.  There are really some shades of Patterson in here.  Only much better written.  Too bitchy?  Well, perhaps.  But true.

Wow.  Where to start?  This ended up being one of the best original Nancy Drew books I've ever read, and I can't believe it wasn't on my previous favorites list.  It has everything from a cat and mouse chase to a bitchy intruder who wants to edge in on Nancy's territory (think a lady version of Mortimer Bartesque) to a wily and clever criminal with a funky name.  Everything!!

Our story starts with Nancy talking with Bess and George about a case her father mentioned in passing, something to do with a glowing eye.  He didn't have time to elaborate before his new colleague, Marty King, tells Nancy not to bother because SHE has the case covered.  Poor Nancy is distraught, thinking her father may have found someone new to help him solve mysteries.  I admit I wondered if she was overreacting a bit, but I have to remember she never is.  Marty King is a bitch with a capital B. 

The girls are just comforting Nancy about this possible usurper to her crime-solving throne when a helicopter lands on their front lawn.  Okay, this is not the first time a helicopter or small plane has landed in their yard so I have to ask: Just how big is the Drew's property?  Obviously pretty effing big if small aircrafts are landing there regularly.  Anyway, the helicopter has no pilot, so it's basically an early model drone.  No one is in the copter but there is a note from Ned that says "Beware of the Cyclops!"  Spooky!

Before the drone can take off again, Nancy and her friends tie it to the ground with heavy rope and call for a police guard to watch it until they can figure out if Ned has met with some kind of foul play.  Meanwhile, journalists flood Nancy's apparently epic front yard and ask her if this is some kind of publicity stunt.  It hasn't been since Whistling Bagpipes that we've seen this kind of action--Nancy feeling the consequences of her local (and sometimes international) super-stardom while she's freaking out over Ned.   When Nancy finally gets away from the paps, she checks with Ned's frat bros, including Burt and Dave, she learns that there has been a "rumor" circulating that Ned was abducted.  Um, isn't that the kind of rumor you want to take seriously, guys?  

Overnight, Nancy hears the helicopter flying away from her house and calls the police.  When they arrive, they find the guard knocked out in some bushes and Hannah Gruen gasps with dismay.  "How dreadful!" she says.  And then the policeman responds with the best line I've ever heard: "Indeed it is, ma'am. And so is all crime."  

The next day, the girls take to investigating but don't quite know where to start.  Nancy's father had mentioned a mystery concerning a glowing eye, but still hadn't taken five minutes to explain.  And Ned's note had mentioned a cyclops--was this connected with the glowing eye?  Well, of course it is, but we don't know that yet.  While they are eating at a restaurant and George is once again fat shaming Bess by telling her the Cyclops is a monster that feasts on plump young ladies like herself, Nancy is shocked to see her father sitting a few secluded booths away...with Marty King!  The two look awfully chummy, and I can't quite tell if Nancy is more upset at the prospect of her father replacing her long-dead mother with some 22 year-old hussy, or at the fact that this woman keeps bragging that she's going to solve the glowing eye mystery.  Since Nancy is a proven android, I'm guessing it's the latter. Her dad, still not divulging the details of the original mystery, gives her a clue to check out The Anderson Museum.  What is going on, Carson?

At the museum, they are coldly received by the proprietor, Miss Wilkin.  At first she just seems like one of those stereotypical buns-up librarian/teacher/docent who thinks all these places of knowledge would be just perfect without the kids.  But her behavior starts to seems a little dodgy and I wonder if she has anything to do with the mystery, particularly when she acts strangely upon showing them the glowing eye exhibit, which was evidently created by a crazy red-haired Emerson student named Zapp Crosson.  He's also called "Crossy," so we know he must be evil.  Only Nancy Drew villains and Best Boy Grips on movie sets have such weird nicknames.  Apparently, old Crossy disappeared at the same time Ned did.

After the weirdness at the museum, Nancy and the gang decide to check out the airfield to see if anyone knows anything about a driver-less helicopter in the area.  A pilot, Glenn, offers to give them a ride and scan the area, and they eventually discover a few clues to Crossy's whereabouts at the airfield.  The gang heads back to the engineering lab where Ned was working on some kind of formula for cold light (wait, wasn't that the same formula that was stolen in Mirror Bay?).  They are looking for clues when a bomb goes off in the lab!  The FBI comes to investigate, and pretty much all the authorities are treating Nancy like she's Morgan Freeman in [insert James Patterson title here], some genius consultant who has the metaphorical keys to the case.

Mrs. Nickerson calls on Nancy to check out some notes and files that Ned had mailed to their house and Nancy et. al are on the move again.  I swear, the action in this book is moving so fast I keep thinking it's almost over but we're just halfway through, dear audience.  While poring through Ned's files, Nancy asks for a large pin/chalkboard to arrange her clues.  Annnnnnddd, she's Morgan Freeman again.  Soft, ominous classical music might at well be playing as Nancy carefully researches and puts together clues on her crime board.  She is just about to come to a conclusion when she sees a man with bright red hair (Crossy!) on a ladder up against the Nickerson's house copying her work!  Um, what is it with criminals and their ladders?  There must be a top secret spy ladder store all these d-bags frequent.  

Nancy's revelations lead them on yet another cat and mouse search when they follow the clues and see the driver-less helicopter above them.  They trek through a swamp and along a long path, losing the helicopter but finding Zapp Crosson's hideout.  But, there's no Crossy to be found--and no Ned.  However, Ned left a diary of his captivity and we see Nancy start to get really freaked out about how Ned could be maimed or even killed by this psycho.  I found it a little surprising, her being an android and all, but realized that she, like Data, might have an emotion chip.

Nancy's distress is compounded when she keeps trying to track down her father for more information about the case, now that she is sure the glowing eye and Ned's abduction are connected, and his secretary always announces he is out at various meals with Marty King.  At one point she even calls her own home and Marty answers, saying she's preparing dinner for Carson.  Um, is this woman responsible for Mr. Drew's diet now?  Marty again humble brags about her contact in the glowing eye case and Nancy starts to wonder if her contact has been Zapp Crosson all along.  She describes her contact as someone who would like to be her boyfriend but "she likes someone else better."  Carson?!!!   Whoa, Nancy,  You might have to take this bitch all the WAY downtown.

Now that Nancy has put together the possible connection between Marty and Crossy, she wants to track her down right away but remembers that she had a helicopter date with Glenn, the pilot from the airfield.  Whoa, slow down,  Are you making dates with handsome pilots while Ned is chained to a wall somewhere?  Nancy decides to have Glenn copter her over to where Marty is.  Because apparently that's a perfectly reasonable method of transport now, at least in this story.  Can I start coptering to Target when I need to run errands?  That would certainly be easier than driving in Bay Area traffic.  

When Nancy reaches Marty, she interrogates her LIKE A FRIKKIN' BOSS.  Every time Marty goes off on a tangent, Nancy just sternly repeats her question, until the bee-yotch finally cracks.  Marty admits that Crosson has been feeding her information because he wants to get close to her.  She tells Nancy Crosson might even have several more hideouts, including one at the museum.  Nancy basically mic-drops and leaves the room, because her work is done.

Nancy and Glenn casually helicopter on over to the museum and Nancy checks out the glowing eye exhibit again, to the chagrin of the crusty old docent Miss Wilkin, who seems irritated that she's returned.  At one point, Nancy gets pinned between a secret sliding door and the old bitch seems more upset that she's messing with the exhibit than that Nancy nearly lost an arm.  Okay, this woman is definitely involved.  Glenn helps out by massaging Nancy's hand and arm and I'm starting to get uncomfortable.  Who is this GLENN, really?  And people keep reacting with raised eyebrows when Nancy brings him around.  Is this guy. like, super sexy?  What kind of sexy guy is named GLENN? All I can think about is poor Ned, captive and probably starving, calling out Nancy's name weakly while she's off gallivanting with some cartoonishly sexy pilot named frikkin' GLENN.  Of course, GLENN offers to chauffeur her around some more, coyly saying at the end of the day that if she ever needs his help again, he'll "come flying in" to save the day.  

Ughhh.  Buh-bye, Glenn.  See you never.

When Nancy finally remembers she's in a committed relationship, she hooks up with Bess, George, Burt and Dave again to resume their search.  They discover that Miss Wilkin has suddenly resigned and everyone heads back to the museum, finding that more than a little suspicious.  As it turns out, they are 100% right.  When they investigate the sliding door that had pinned Nancy earlier, they find that it opens into a secret room, one that Crossy has been hiding in for quite a while judging by the piles of old food and dirty clothes.  He has a stack of diaries with notes about helicopters, epic poetry about himself, the "Cyclops", and even a note to his dear Aunt...MISS WILKIN!!!  So, Crossy/Cyclops did have an insider at the museum.  The gang decides to stake out the place, and their efforts are rewarded when Crossy's helicopter lands and he sneaks into the glowing eye exhibit.  Quickly, the gang restrains him and Nancy busts out some electrical wire and hogties the dude in under a minute.  Is hogtying something else we can find on Nancy's endless resume of skills?

Crosson is arrested and then we find out that his boundless love of his helicopter was truly his downfall.  First of all, it led them to almost all of his hiding spots. THEN, he took the copter to sneak back into a crime scene.  Most conspicuous criminal ever?  Hours later, Ned arrives in the self-flying helicopter and says that he was able to steer the craft back home from Crossy's third hideout because the boy had "let him drive it" a few times. Way to give your captive the keys to the getaway car, dude.

In the best device ever in Nancy Drew books, Ned has the floor to tell the amazing tale of his captivity.  He explains every clue he left, and every question we had left unanswered.  The only question I have left at the end of this book (other than how it's SO AWESOME) is how Carson's mystery even connected to the glowing eye in the first place.  But that question is answered too when Nancy returns home with Ned (not GLENN).  Apparently, a client of Carson's saw the glowing eye exhibit at the museum and suspected Miss Wilkin of misappropriating funds.  So, it was a connection, but also basically a McGuffin.

When Nancy asks Carson what Marty King thinks of all this excitement, he flushes red and tells her he had to let Marty go.  Apparently, she PROPOSED MARRIAGE.  To Mr. Drew.  

Nice, try, Skankbot 5000.  Nice try.  

Nancy tells Carson that it's okay if he wants to remarry someday, but try not to make it a mystery stealing ho-bag.  He agrees and it's a happy ending for all.

Whew!  This one was amazing.  I give it a surprise 5/5 mags

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