Heather Weidner has been a mystery fan since Scooby Doo and Nancy Drew. Now she’s a mystery author with short stories appearing in two anthologies as well as a mystery series. Learn more about her and her books at her website.
My Homage to Nancy Drew – Girl Sleuth
I write mystery novels and short stories. Secret Lives and Private Eyes is the first in the Delanie Fitzgerald mystery series. (The Tulip Shirt Murders, the second in the series, launches in mid-November.) My sleuth Delanie is a sassy, redheaded private investigator who zooms around Central Virginia in her black Mustang.
I have loved mysteries since Scooby Doo and Nancy Drew. And I was over the moon in 1977 when the “Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys” TV show debuted. (It didn’t hurt that Shaun Cassidy played Joe Hardy.) My friends and I raced through all the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys collections at the public library in Virginia Beach. My favorite is still The Crooked Bannister (1971) with its hot pink cover. I loved the plot twists and the double meanings. From that point on, I was hooked on mysteries. From there, I moved on to Alfred Hitchcock, Agatha Christie, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. But Nancy Drew is still one of my favorite sleuths.
In the late 1980s, I had a double major in English and history. My research project in “Adolescent Literature” was a comparative study of the original Nancy Drew mysteries from the 1930s with the updated ones in the 1980s and their influence on generations of readers.
As a pre-teen reader, I was so impressed that Nancy could solve crimes before the professionals and adults did. I adored Nancy’s freedom. She had a car. She did things that other girls didn’t, and she could solve crimes. She influenced generations of women like Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush, Oprah Winfrey, and Sonia Sotomayor. Nancy has been a role model for lots of young girls for over eighty years.
The Nancy Drew mysteries were written by several ghostwriters under one pseudonym, Carolyn Keene. The series has undergone several revisions and updates over the years, but Nancy’s spirit prevailed. The famous yellow spines were added to the books in 1962. That was the set that I remember reading. And her stories have been translated into over twenty different languages.
The girl detective appeared in several movies from the 1930s to the 2000s and TV shows through the years. Her face and logo have graced all kinds of merchandising from jewelry, lunch boxes, and clothing to board and video games. She has appeared in novels, coloring books, and graphic novels.
There are some similarities between the iconic Nancy Drew and my private investigator. I didn’t intentionally mean to create the parallels, but subconsciously, her character influenced my mystery writing. Both females are fearless, smart, and feisty. Delanie and Nancy both have red hair. (Nancy Drew started out as a blonde in the 1930s, but artists in the 1940-50s depicted her as a redhead.)
Nancy drove a sporty roadster. Her car was upgraded to a Mustang in the mysteries from the 1980s. My sleuth loves her black Mustang, nicknamed Black Beauty.
Nancy’s friends (Bess and George) were important in her life and to the stories just like Delanie’s partner Duncan (his English bulldog Margaret), and her girlfriends Paisley and Robin are key to her story life.
I like to think of my Delanie Fitzgerald as following in the footprints of the original girl sleuth.
Secret Lives and Private Eyes
A Delanie Fitzgerald Mystery, Book 1
Business has been slow for Private Investigator Delanie Fitzgerald, but her luck seems to change when a tell-all author hires her to find rock star Johnny Velvet. Could the singer—whose career purportedly ended in a fiery crash almost thirty years ago—still be alive?
As if sifting through dead ends in a cold case isn’t bad enough, Delanie is hired by loud-mouth strip club owner Chaz Wellington Smith, III, to uncover information about the mayor’s secret life. When the mayor is murdered, Chaz becomes the key suspect, and Delanie must clear his name. She also has to figure out why a landscaper keeps popping up in her other investigation. Can the private investigator find the connection between the two cases before another murder—possibly her own—takes place?
Secret Lives and Private Eyes is a fast-paced mystery that will appeal to readers who like a strong, female sleuth with a knack for getting herself in and out of difficult, and sometimes humorous, situations.