Monday, June 08, 2009

Confessions of a Teen Sleuth, by Chelsea Cain

(hb; 2005; illustrations by Lia Miternique)

From the inside flap:

"America's favorite girl detective is back to set the record straight. According to our titian-haired heroine, she was not a fictional character, but an intrepid real-life sleuth who investigated some of the twentieth century's biggest mysteries. And the famous series she starred in was not cooked up by a team of writers, but plagiarized from her exploits by a nosy college roommate -- who, not surprisingly, got a whole lot wrong.

"Here are the daring escapes, brilliant hunches, and dependable stock characters, including interlopers from numerous other beloved series, that have delighted generations of fans. And here, also, are the details of teen-sleuth life that you never saw: the secret romances, reckless driving, minor drinking problems, political action, and domestic drama that have, up till now, remained hidden from these brave detectives' adoring public."

Review:

Funny, always smart first-person accounts from Nancy Drew's perspective, spanning 66 years: starting with the story "The Hidden Hardy, 1926" and ending with "The Secret of Carolyn Keene, 1992," Drew's recountings are as tightly-narrated and plot-/character-convenient as any of Carolyn Keene's fictionalized accounts of Drew.

More than that, they're slyer tellings than anything Keene concocted. Drew's intimations of sexuality (teen and adult), alcoholism, political dirty deals, marital affairs and homosexuality are cleverly, sometimes cattily, hinted at in the language of the stories' varying time periods.

Cain's reinvention of familiar characters, also era-transmorgified, is dead-on. The supporting characters include: Ned Nickerson, good "normal" guy, who later becomes Drew's husband; teen sleuths Frank and Joe Hardy (aka, "The Hardy Boys," who got their own series, thanks to author Franklin W. Dixon); and others.

Excellent, breezy, pop-subversive read from author Cain.

Check this out!

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