Picks and Pans Review: Case #1: Secrets Can Kill

updated 10/13/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/13/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT


by Carolyn Keene

After 56 years of clue collecting, roadster riding and villain catching, a girl's bound to start showing her age. So the brains behind the Carolyn Keene pseudonym have been busy. Edward Stratemeyer, creator of the Hardy Boys, Bobbsey Twins and Ms. Drew, first used the name, and his daughter succeeded him until she died in 1982. The current "Keene," a committee of 12 to 20 writers, has brought America's favorite teenage detective up to speed. Nancy is now a trendy redhead. She wears designer jeans, has a Mustang GT convertible and shuns luncheons for midnight rock concerts. Constants: Best friend George is still a girl, and George's cousin Bess is still trying to lose weight. The first case in the new series, Secrets Can Kill, has Nancy undercover, investigating blackmail at a high school. A videocassette found by housekeeper Hannah Gruen, still holding down the fort with lawyer-dad Carson Drew, warns Nancy off the case. But with vintage pluck, our sleuth forges ahead, a snapped brake cable notwithstanding. Daryl Gray, class president with eyes "the dark, dusky color of ripe blueberries" is assigned as Nancy's high school contact, but a murder throws him into a suspicious light, just as Nancy is daydreaming about his strong arms. Meanwhile a student seems to be selling secrets to the Russians. Boyfriend Ned Nickerson, still a student at Emerson College, comes home just in time to save Nance from Gray and his fruit-hued orbs. In Deadly Intent, Carson Drew (natty in a navy jogging suit) treats Nancy, George, Bess and Alan—Bess's boyfriend from Case #1—to a weekend in New York City. He wangles backstage passes for them to see Bent Fender, "the hottest rock band around." Moments before the curtain rises lead guitarist Barton Novak disappears. Nancy finds a wallet with a dragon tail on it. Wham! Thud! She's knocked unconscious. Here we go again. Let's just think of her as Nancy Lite. For N.D.'s old fans, the new tales merit a cursory glance, if only to trigger memories of the secrets in the old attic and the passage to Larkspur Lane that have been savored under blankets since 1930. This can be accomplished while wrapping the books as gifts for those females of the younger generation who have not definitely settled on Madonna or Whitney Houston as their all-time role model. (Pocket Books, $2.50 each; new cases will be added every month)

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