Nancy Drew: The Sky Phantom
Or as I like to call it: Nancy Drew: Romancing a Cowboy. And I imagine it’ll have a cover that looks something like this:
So I know there is an actual mystery that goes on in this installment, but I really feel as though the majority of the book is concern over Bess’ hot cowboy beau, and the classic soap opera decision of what she is going to do when Dave shows up! But until then, on to the actual mystery!
Despite the laughability of the Bess storyline (or maybe because of…), this is actually one of my favorite Nancy Drew installments in the original set. You open with, of course, Nancy doing something amazing (because of course she can!) In the opening scene she is flying a plane. Albeit she is taking a flying lesson, but still. And in perfect Nancy Drew fashion the mystery is alluded to within the first page of the book, even if it is semi nonchalantly. “That’s the mystery cloud, you can get lost in there it’s so big!” Of course the word “mystery” will have caught Nancy’s attention. Why is this guy seemingly ok with a “mystery cloud?” Doesn’t that seem like something they would have had someone investigate? Like, if a random cloud was in the same spot over my house all the damn time I think I would have tried to figure out what the eff was going on! I would have gotten Mulder and Scully stat!
Later, back at the farm they are all staying at, another mystery arises. Because when does a Nancy Drew novel only have ONE mystery. Spoiler: all the mysteries are ALWAYS linked. The second mystery is that the farm owner’s prize Palomino, Major, has been stolen. What dick goes around stealing someone’s horse? Hmmm the guy who stole the horse PROBABLY has something to do with the mysterious clous thingy, and also the notes sent to Nancy that, essentially, say “Hey Detective chick – GTFO!” Nancy, Bess, & George take it upon themselves to investigate by going on a horseback ride of their own. Which, of course, includes George making fun of Bess for wanting to make sure there are chicken sandwiches packed. Honestly, I tried keeping count in this book of how many times Bess gets fat shamed, but it hit like 4 in the first 23 pages and I decided it was kind of a depressing counter. But JOKES ON YOU GEORGE! Bess wins the heart of a hot cowboy. More on that later.
Most of this book finds the group on horseback tracking down parachute dudes that have gone missing, or missing planes. Which means Nancy does amazing feats like bringing down her plane in a forced safe crashed landing (why she was doing the landing while her instructor was there, I’ll never know!).
The book does take an upswing when, halfway through, Ned, Burt, & Dave show up. They say it’s because they’re jealous of all the fun the girls are having, but I’m convinced it’s because Dave is worried about the potential for a cowboy to steal his lady 😉. But again, I will get to that later.
Nancy must negotiate with a kidnapper, Ben Rall, for the return of another pilot who may have stumbled on the mysterious cloud. This cloud thing gets so glossed over for most of the book that it’s infuriating. More time gets spent on riding horseback and Nancy flying than anything else. After a lot of weird roundabout investigating, Nancy and Ned discover that the “mysterious cloud” is used as a cover up for a guy who has been burying rifles and bombs in the plains. As Ned put’s it “enough to blow up the whole country!” Ok Ned, let’s not get carried away, you drama queen. They find out this guy was doing it because he was part of some revolutionary gang thing….but it’s never really explained what his long term plan was. Which, honestly, disappoints me….
OK THE REAL DRAMA. THE LOVE TRIANGLE BETWEEN BESS AND DAVE AND A COWBOY.
Bess, despite always being classed as the “overweight one,” is quickly sought out by a handsome cowboy that works on the same ranch. Bess TOTES appreciates that this guy is warm for her form, despite George and Nancy constantly asking about how this would effect Dave. The writing even points it out – almost painfully. When the girls find out that the boys are showing up Nancy and George happily tell Ned and Burt, respectively, that they are excited to see them. Bess kind of mumbles a response at Dave who is saying things like, “I’m counting the hours until I see you!” Man, poor Dave…When George confronts Bess about her poor phone etiquette and accuses Bess of the cowboy being in love with her. Bess shouts that maybe she’s in love with Chuck (oh yeah….cowboy dude totally has an actual name). Nothing happens with the cowboy really (maybe some light offpage kisses), but you can tell he totally digs her. Then the heat really gets turned up when the boys arrive at the ranch. Although at one point Bess reveals that Chuck wants her to stay behind at the ranch and marry him, a thought she gives some legit consideration. Whaaaat! What about Dave, Bess?!? Don’t break up the trio and trio dating happiness! Plus things get way awksies when other ranch hands start saying they are gonna “fix” Dave since he came to “steal Chuck’s gal!” Umm….dudes, Bess and Dave were a thing waaaay before, when Chuck was just a twinkling spur in his Mommy’s eye. Ok, maybe not that long, but still. Eventually Bess comes to her senses and realizes she needs to explain to Chuck that nothing will happen, that Dave is better for long term companionship. Basically, she just finds Chuck majorly hot.
All in all this really is one of my favorite NDs. But I honestly never remember much about the mystery, just what goes on in the soap opera….
Mystery Score: 3.5/5 SpursRomance Novel Score: 5/5 Spurs