It seems there’s no end to the talents Nancy Drew, girl detective, holds. I don’t understand how in between her school day and school work, she managed to fit in the time to become a scuba diver, sailing lessons, horseback riding, diving, flower arranging, and speak and read French. Of course, all of these things she does exceptionally well and wins awards for. In The Haunted Bridge, you can add play golf like a pro to the list. After reading just the first chapter, I know that Nancy will be winning a golf tournament.
Nancy is at the Deer Mountain Hotel with her father, attorney Carson Drew, trying to track some international jewel thieves. Now, exactly why a lawyer is trying to track jewel thieves and not the police or FBI is beyond me. She is playing a fantastic game of golf with friends Bess Marvin and George Fayne when she hits her autographed Jimmy Hammond ball into the woods. Her caddy refuses to go look for the ball, saying that it’s haunted over there. This sparks Nancy’s curiosity, of course.
For the most part, The Haunted Bridge is a little different in that the two mysteries aren’t really related. There are some of the same people involved in both mysteries, but they basically have nothing to do with one another. However, along the way to solving these two mysteries, Nancy learns about parted lovers, a burned-down mansion, a mountain lion, a poor loser at golf, and a boorish man by the name of Martin Bartescue.
Bartescue is pursuing Nancy throughout The Haunted Bridge. He seems to be quite the blowhard, and Nancy believes he is involved with the jewelry thefts and possibly forgery. So much time is spent on his character, and it seems sure that there will be a big payoff for him in the end.
Getting the short end of the stick this time around is Nancy’s boyfriend, Ned Nickerson. He, Burt Eddleton, and Dave Evans come to spend time with the girls at Deer Mountain Hotel, only to be relegated to sitting with a sick man. Ned does seem to catch an attitude about it eventually, but overall gives in and basically lets Nancy boss them around while they sit around waiting for instructions. Nothing is ever built on his hurt feelings. The sick man, by the way, appears to be almost in a coma for a few days, but the doctor doesn’t think it’s serious enough for him to be in the hospital, and the college boys will do fine taking care of him.
Nancy is also once again totally adept at judging a person’s character based on their appearance. I’m all for trusting your instincts, but throughout the books, many of her instincts seem to be based on appearances: Although she had heard the man was a very good player, she had taken an instant dislike to him, and politely declined the invitation. If her instincts say someone is a nice person, no matter what the evidence says she never believes the person is guilty of anything. Nancy has a two-minute encounter with a woman named Margaret Judson in a powder room and is convinced the woman just couldn’t be involved with jewel thieves. Because, you know, all bad people are the kind you know are bad in a matter of two minutes.
Once Nancy gets an idea in her head, she doesn’t want to let it go, either. It’s not even a matter of life and death, simply her need to have her answers that night that leads Nancy to call on real estate agents at their homes after 9PM to learn if they have rented a home recently to the woman she is looking for. I don’t know many people who would be happy at that sort of intrusion, and realistically she should have had some backlash for that, but in the world of Nancy Drew, everything she does is always the right thing to do.
The illustrations in The Haunted Bridge appear more modern. All three of the girls look quite different, as a matter of fact. They have more of the look of eighteen-year-olds in the 1970s and aren’t quite as old-fashioned. The pen and ink illustrations also seem to have more substance to them.
The Haunted Bridge isn’t a bad book by far. There isn’t quite as much action as there has been in other books, and some of the ideas have such simple resolutions it feels like a letdown. Her ever-increasing talents don’t stop here, but I wonder if the syndicate that was responsible for having these published ever considered how ridiculous it starts to sound. My 12-year-old loved the book when she read it, and I am sure that 9 to 12-year-olds still will like it. The idea that three girls can be off on a vacation acting as adults are something girls that age dream about when they turn that magical age of eighteen, especially if there are no money worries to go along with it. The Haunted Bridge also translates fairly well into modern times with few issues. Have no fear if your girl wants to read this.
Previous book in the series (link): The Whispering Statue
Next book iin the series (link): The Clue of the Tapping Heels