Ghostly Party Boat Scares Off Candy/Bait Salesman!
Too Many Girls Cause Bridge To Collapse!
Mysterious Redhead Mysteriously Makes Many Mysterious Appearances!
Girl Detective Is Locked On Roof! Door Is Later Found To Be Unlocked!
Girl's Earring Falls Off: Later Provides Crucial Plot Point!
Short Rolling Log Almost Grazes Our Heroine!
Canoe Sinks: Paddler Forced To Swim To Land!
Girl Detective Carries Handbag While Sleuthing; Is Still Unable To Produce Pencil And/Or Paper!
Small Children Forced To Practice Gymnastics!
Lost Civil War-Era Family Treasure!
Pop Idol Suffers Unfairly Small Royalty Checks!
Girl Trips And Rolls Downhill: Lands In Brambles!
Rock Thrown Through Window: Two People Left Unconscious!
Cops Outside of River Heights: Also Incompetent!
Car Is Forced Into Ditch: Survivors Push It Back Out Again!
Sadly, those headlines make The Clue of the Broken Locket sound MUCH more exciting than it actually was: Nancy and Co. spend the majority of this installment wandering around and making insanely uneducated guesses—A bright light shining intermittently out of a window? Clearly a kidnapping victim! (Granted, pretty much all of the wild guesses turn out to be right.)—rather than actually doing much adventuring.
- Carson Drew gets a cryptic letter from the caretaker of a client's cottage:
Hire someone else. I'm scared.
Acting on his usual craptastic paternal instincts, he sends his teenaged daughter to investigate this completely unknown—and possibly dangerous—situation, as well as prep the cottage for incoming tenant Cecily Curtis. True to form, the second that the mystery kicks in, Carson goes gallivanting off on a so-called "business trip" and is unavailable for the duration.
- Except for her first appearance, in which she's "swinging her suitcase", George Fayne doesn't get stuck carrying everyone elses' luggage this time. Instead, she offers herself up as a bodyguard, does research at the Courthouse, and falls down a hill. At one point, she giggles. Which, I believe, is a first: She's usually a chuckler.
- Bess Marvin, of course, eats a lot. And when she isn't eating, she's cooking. Or talking about eating. Or talking about buying food. (Except for the time that the happy thought of hot water makes her go all Yoda: "Me for a relaxing bath.") Think I'm exaggerating?:
"We don't know a thing about how good the food is in Misty Lake. Why don't we stop for an early supper?" (6)
"This is charming," said Bess. "And look! The sign says fresh broiled lobster! Mmm!" (6)
The dinner was delicious. Bess could not resist topping hers off with pecan pie. (8)
"I know we'll all be starving before we get to bed. Remember we had a very early dinner." (15)
When Bess returned from the shop, she was carrying a large bag which she said contained milk, cocoa, cookies, and ham sandwiches. (15)
"You and Nancy sleep. When you wake up, I'll have breakfast all ready." (35)
"In that case, I can't resist a double helping," Bess said with a giggle. (<--If you were wondering: Vanilla ice cream, with hot fudge sauce.) (49)
"Then I'll walk back to the cottage and start supper." (66)
"I'm starved!" (75)
Bess insisted he stay and have some refreshment, and quickly served cookies and bottles of soda. (85)
"I can't tax my brain any more tonight. Say, I'm starved! How about the three of us transferring to the kitchen for a midnight snack?" (<--Tomato soup with cream and hamburgers.) (110)
"We'll have breakfast ready in a jiffy!" (<--Melon, bacon and eggs toast and milk.) (174)
- Before eating their lobster, the girls overhear a Mysterious Argument between Young Lovers—the girl has red hair and the young man looks Strangely Familiar—about a lawsuit and an iron bird. Later, when the girls are looking for Bess' lost earring, the female half of the pair runs across the bridge they're all on, causing it to collapse! With her quick reflexes, Nancy saves the redhead from a muddy fate! After she thanks them, she refuses further assistance, wails:
"Oh, I've made such a mess of my life! Well, good-by."
My long-held suspicion that Nancy Drew is one of THOSE people is proved right:
- She marches up to a CLEARLY closed-for-the-night oil company, questions the night watchman, and then asks for oil to be delivered that night. Even though the place is closed. (I was genuinely surprised when he said no. Apparently her titian hair and blue eyes don't work on everyone.)
- Later, she drives up a road that is CLEARLY MARKED 'PRIVATE', and then feels that since the guy in the house is a) rude and b) won't let her snoop around his property—which, again, is CLEARLY MARKED 'PRIVATE'—he must be a Shady Character. (YES, OF COURSE SHE'S RIGHT. THAT'S NOT THE POINT.)
Back to the story:
- They rent a room at a local boarding house and get the skinny on the story behind the Lost Launch (a turn-of-the-century party boat sprang a leak and sank, killing everyone onboard), which Bess proclaims "shocking", though it sounds more tragic than shocking. (And unlikely, considering the fact that Nancy's canoe later springs a leak ON THE VERY SAME SPOT and she swims to shore without any trouble.)
A note on said Ghostly Apparition:
- It's unfortunate that Henry Winch is a 'fraidy-cat who doesn't see the marketing possibilities. You'd think that a man savvy enough to own a combination candy store/bait shop would understand that Harmless + Ghosts = TOURIST BOOM. But, no. Lucky for him, I guess, it's (SPOILER) all fake anyway.
- When they FINALLY get to the cottage, they run into the same Mysterious Redhead, who appears to have changed her clothes. She cries, "You can't stop me from getting the babies!" and runs off. Actually, I'd like to see a film adaptation of this book directed by David Lynch.
- After the girls open the cottage, the Mysterious Redhead shows up AGAIN, and she's changed her clothes AGAIN, back into what she was wearing at the site of Bess' Lobster Extravaganza, and it turns out that she's Cecily Curtis, the VERY SAME TENANT THE GIRLS ARE THERE TO MEET! IMAGINE THAT! She has no knowledge of the lady squawking about babies, so it appears that she must coincidentally have a doppelganger in the neighborhood. HOW STRANGE!
- Over the course of the evening, they hear a Mysterious Humming Noise. They also notice a light on in the stone house across the lake, as well as a man's silhouette. Cecily Curtis seems strangely interested in—you guessed it!—the same stone house.
- In the middle of the night, the girls are awakened by Mysterious Screaming. It turns out that it was just a loon. Nancy puts her Avian Knowledge (which we've seen before) to good use and explains that "their call can be easily mistaken for a woman's scream". (Umm... Not how I'd describe it, but maybe women scream differently in River Heights.)
- Later that night, Nancy is awakened AGAIN—this time, by Satin the Plot Point Cat—puts her Amazing Powers of Observation to work, and notices that Cecily isn't in bed. Impressively, she finds her new friend in the first place she looks: Outside, on an until-now-unfollowed-path that leads up the side of cliff. Cecily is unconscious! With a lump on her head! Did she trip and fall, or did someone strike her? Nancy notices a "short, thick log" at the top of the path! Suddenly, the log comes free and rolls at the two girls! For the second time, Nancy's quick reflexes save Cecily from Certain Doom!
- After that Harrowing Adventure, Cecily is ready to spill: She's looking for a Lost Family Treasure. All she has to go on is half a gold locket and a note that says something about instructions in an iron bird. Also, she's secretly engaged to the Strangely Familiar Man from the Lobster Shack, who happens to be a popstar, who believes that his record company is cheating him out of his royalties. MYSTERY UPON MYSTERY!
- Despite the whole Bad Guys Running Around Hitting People Over the Head and Chucking Logs Willy-Nilly, Nancy keeps skipping out on dish duty to wander around the woods and on the lake (in a canoe) all by herself.
Let's fast-forward through to the end:
- The girls wander around town, collecting clues and whatnot, and pretty much spend the entire book knowing that the Cranky Guys in the stone house are Up to No Good. Along the way, they discover that Cecily's popstar fiance's records are being pirated, that there are two small children being mistreated (and forced to be acrobats??) by the Cranky Guys, and keep running into the Mysterious Redhead Who Says Mysterious Things And Then Runs Away.
A brief interlude in which I recount the ways in which policemen in the Nancy Drew Universe prove, yet again, to be useless:
- The cottage gets ransacked, the gang tells the police, the police say that it can't have been anyone local because none of the locals would do a thing like that, and then proceed to not bother investigating it, even when the girls spot a prowler WHO CARRIES AN AXE and even after someone THROWS A MEGAZORD ROCK THROUGH THEIR WINDOW that knocks Cecily and Niko (her popstar fiance) unconscious. The police eventually blame the prowling on an escapee from a local mental institution (no, I'm not making that up).
- Nancy gives the local police chief her patented "disapproving" look, which shames him into checking out the Bad Guys, but the Bad Guys fool him, so he chides her, but, of course, later he has to grovel for forgiveness.
- When everything gets wrapped up, the police wander off without bothering to get a statement from the woman whose children had been kidnapped from the Bad Guys A YEAR AGO and who, herself, had been imprisoned by them for the better part of a week. They did mention, though, as they headed out the door, that they suspected that the kidnapping "may have been illegal".
This time, I really mean it about fast-forwarding:
- The intrepid sleuths find a half of a locket in an abandoned rowboat that just so happens to match the half that Cecily has; George falls and hits her head, which makes her crave steak (the only time that someone other than Bess talks about food, like, ever); Nancy evades the Bad Guys by hanging under a boat launch; she exhibits her Vast Knowledge of Architecture (which I'll give her a pass on, as if I ran into hidden passageways as often as her, I'd probably read up on them, too); her canoe sinks and she swims to shore while planning to clobber any assailants with her canoe paddle; she notices the sound of crickets on the pirated record which leads her to believe that the pirated records are being recorded in the stone house (since there aren't crickets, like, anywhere else in the country); they go to a Niko concert with Ned and Burt and Dave; avoid get kidnapped thanks to the story taking place in pre-childlock days; go to church; steal an iron flamingo; use the never-before-mentioned "owl signal" they supposedly always use; eavesdrop on an argument between the villains so detailed in laying out Their Dastardly Plan that it would put any Bond Villain Monologue to shame; have an extremely slow car chase (it's misty out) that results in Ned's car going off the road, but the boys are okay because the "instinctively let their bodies go limp"; find out that the Mysterious Redhead is Cecily's long-lost cousin and the mother of the twins, who were stolen out of her car A YEAR AGO while she was unconscious after the car accident that killed her husband (yes, you read that right); as usual, Nancy gets so caught up in hearing the victim's story that she forgets about bothering to escape, they get caught and forced into the cellar, but then Ned shows up with the police; they find the treasure, then all eat breakfast and the book goes out on a suitably redundant note with Nancy smiling through "happy tears". THE END.
Cecily and the Mysterious Redhead (now known as Susan) have their locket halves rejoined and give the whole shebang to Nancy.