featuring guest authors; crafting tips and projects; recipes from food editor and sleuthing sidekick Cloris McWerther; and decorating, travel, fashion, health, beauty, and finance tips from the rest of the American Woman editors.

Friday, May 4, 2012


Our Book Club Friday guest today is Sally Carpenter, author of The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper, the first book in the Sandy Fairfax Teen Idol mystery series which was a finalist for the Eureka! Award for best first mystery novel. Sandy is also a playwright. The play that inspired The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper was produced in New York City. Visit Sally on Facebook or at her website. You can also contact her at scwriter@earthlink.net.

Sally will be giving away a copy of The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper to one of our readers who posts a comment this week. -- AP

Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys: Teen Sleuths Who Never Grow Old
By Sally Carpenter

Why do we love Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys? Even though Joe and Frank Hardy made their first book appearance in 1927, and Nancy followed in 1930—both series were created by a book packaging company that hired ghostwriters—the characters, in various revisions and reincarnations, are still popular today.

Here’s why I believe these sleuths survived.

1. Fantasy. These detectives live the life most teens only dream about. Nancy doesn’t attend school or work at a day job, is never short on funds and travels the world in stylish clothes.

Joe and Frank occasionally go to school but their studies never interfere with their daredevil sleuthing. They drive fast cars, ride motorcycles, sail a speedboat and fly a plane—what young man wouldn’t want that?

2. Action. Our sleuths have no time for romance and introspection—they’re always on the go. They never walk—they “run,” “hurry,” and “dash.” Within a short paragraph they’re in a new location. The only time Nancy/Joe/Frank stop to catch their breath is when they’re eating or sleeping.

And every chapter ends in a cliffhanger to keep the pages turning.

3. Danger. Our young sleuths are kidnapped, tied up, knocked out and locked up more times than a squad of police officers. The Hardys trade punches with the baddies. The kids ignore numerous threats to get off the case.

And they love it!

4. Friends. Nancy’s constant companions are Bess and George, the BFFs who follow her into every adventure.

The Hardys have Chet, Biff and Tony to help out (overweight Chet shows that detecting isn’t limited to just the handsome kids). 

No matter the danger, these pals are loyal to the core. Our sleuths can count on them.

5. Moral code. Emotional issues or teenage rebellion doesn’t burden our sleuths. Joe and Frank are more honest, pure, obedient and trustworthy than the Boys Scouts.  They’re so chaste they don’t even hug or kiss their girlfriends, Callie and Iola.

Nancy even stops her sleuthing on Sundays long enough to attend church! These kids are so square they’re hip. 

6. Smarts. Nancy/Joe/Frank may be young but they can outwit adult criminals. The police are stumped by a case? No problem—our kids will figure it out.

Readers throughout the years love these stories because they identify with these resourceful teens. We can’t solve mysteries daily and live exciting lives—but we wished we could!

The Drew/Hardy stories were one of the inspirations behind my debut mystery, The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper. My book uses the same conventions of cliffhanger endings, fast pace, loyal fans and a touch of fantasy.  

Former teen idol Sandy Fairfax starred in the 1970s TV show, “Buddy Brave, Boy Sleuth,” which ran opposite the real-life “Nancy Drew-Hardy Boys Mysteries.” Now aged 38, he’s making a guest appearance at a Beatles fan convention. When a member of the tribute band is shot, Sandy unwittingly finds himself sleuthing for real.

Thanks for joining us today, Sally! I was more a Cherry Ames girl than a Nancy Drew girl, but Cherry certainly solved her share of crimes, too. What about you, readers?
-- AP


Janie Emaus said...

I loved Nancy Drew. Your book sounds like a fun read.

Anonymous said...

I read an original Nancy Drew a few years back and was really struck by the complexity of the language. The modern rewrites have really simplified things.

I thought the Emma Roberts movie was a lot of fun--spoofing the things that made Nancy unusual, but keeping the good heart of the series too.

I remember as a girl being annoyed that Nancy was so good at everything! The book that really clinched it for me was the one where she dances with the ballet dancer. She does huge leaps and he tells her she could have been a prima ballerina. I remember thinking, okay wait a minute! This is really just one step too far ...

Also loved the secret passages, codes, etc. The old-fashioned mystery aspect of the books was fun.


Dawn said...

Loved Nancy! I'm still looking for secret rooms and coded messages....


I received an email that Shirley Nienkark tried in vain to post a comment and wants to be included in the drawing. So I'm posting for her.

Anonymous said...

Nancy Drew taps into the dark side common in many classic mysteries: secret passages, old houses out in the country, dark nights, codes and clues. Nancy was also a little too "perfect." Did she ever do anything wrong? I gave my protagonist a few flaws to make him human.
Sally Carpenter

marja said...

When I was young I enjoyed nothing more than reading about Nancy or the Hardy Boys. I think they really were good role models in many way. And there was nothing more exciting than a dark and stormy night with maybe a spooky old house thrown in. I haven't read any of the newer stories, but thank to old Nancy, I always wanted to solve a mystery.

Cara Marsi said...

I enjoyed your blog. I had to respond because while I didn't enjoy Nancy Drew, I do have a favorite girl sleuth, Judy Bolton, written by Margaret Sutton.

I've read a few Nancy Drew's and Hardy Boys. I enjoyed the Hardy Boys more. Judy Bolton is my favorite girl sleuth because she seemed so real. She wasn't rich, like Nancy, but was an ordinary girl with a loving family and a lot of friends. My collection of Judy books, dating from the Fifties and Sixties, is very precious to me. Judy grew up in the stories and eventually married her childhood friend Peter Dobbs who became an FBI agent. I had such a crush on Peter and wanted to marry someone just like him.

Augie said...

I enjoyed this post as usual with Sally. I too enjoyed the Nancy/Hardy Boys mysteries. Looking forward to Sandy's next escapade. augie

GBPool said...

Maybe the reason I enjoyed Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys was because their problems were so unlike ordinary stuff that went on when I was their age. I can see bad things on TV, the news, or talk to the next door neighbors. I want to be entertained. We live in reality, give me some fast-paced fiction with a dead body tossed in any day. I hope your former teen idol brings back some of that fun fiction I like.

Anonymous said...

I agree, I like entertaining fiction. One reason I wrote the book was that nobody was writing the funny kind of mysteries that I wanted to read! My favorite childhood sleuth was Trixie Beldon, who is younger than Nancy but still manages to get into trouble. My parents gave me the first two books of the series for a present and I started collecting from there. Still fun to go back and read those.
Sally Carpenter

Liz said...

Belonged to a Nancy Drew book club (of 2) w/ my best friend--who then moved away.

Have since learned that authors such as Susan Wittig Albert have leant their skills to keeping the tradition going.

Cynthia Sherrick said...

I read many of the Nancy Drew stories but I also enjoyed Trixie Beldon. :)

I also knew a Sally Carpenter way back when, I think you may be her.

Irene said...

My mother has the complete set of Hardy Boys mysteries in her attic. My brother was addicted to them and became a policeman because of the Hardys!
Nancy Drew was the epitome of all that I wanted to be. When I found out one of my college professors had written for both series, I was vastly disappointed. He was creepy. Love the idea of a Beatlemanac!

Irene said...

That's "Beatlemaniac", sorry!

petite said...

I enjoyed all the nancy Drew books way back. Checked them out from the local library and treasured each one. I miss them and adored them.

traveler said...

Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys were extremely popular when I was young. We used to trade them and devoured each one. When men were men.

Merrily said...

I loved Nancy Drew and still have all the books. I enjoy reading YA, especially mysteries.

Kat Hinkson said...

I have several orginals of Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys. I find them more intriguing than some of the newer books.
I loved your book, Baffled and looking forward to your next book.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all of your nice comments. A few years ago I found about 20 hardback Hardy/Nancy books in great condition at the library's used book store. I snatched them up! My high school library had the Tom Swift Jrs and I read those, too.
Sally Carpenter

Melanie Jackson, author, editor, piano student said...

I loved Nancy! Thanks for reminding me about her adventures, Sally. Ditto Joe and Frank's. Remember when Nancy was "bound and gagged" (a regular expression in those books, as I recall) and tapped out an SOS with her high heels? I also liked Trixie Belden. Not quite as supergirl-ish as Nance.

Melanie Jackson, author, editor, piano student said...

Remember when Nancy was "bound and gagged" (a regular expression in those books) and tapped out an SOS with her high heels? No wonder girls loved her. I liked Trixie Belden, too. Not quite as supergirl-ish as Nance. Thanks for bringing it back to me, Sally.