Goodreads: The Death of Nancy Drew
Series: Collects The Death of Nancy Drew #1-6
Age Category: Young Adult
Everyone says that Nancy Drew’s death was an accident. But Joe Hardy doesn’t believe it. Nancy died right after exposing a major crime organization in River Heights. And he’s determined to find out what really happened to her that fateful night.
The announcement for The Death of Nancy Drew, a noir-inspired comic series that picks up where The Big Lie left off, caused quite a stir in 2020 when outraged fans called the title an outrage to Nancy’s legacy. Of course, this naturally made me want to read it. This volume collects the six issues of the series, giving readers an edgy, modern version of Nancy Drew that seems meant to appeal to fans of CW dramas like Riverdale. I enjoyed the story, even though I’m not sure anything will ever capture my love for the original 56 Nancy Drew Mystery Stories.
I give the creators of The Death of Nancy Drew credit for at least trying to draw on nostalgia, and to hide as many Easter eggs as possible for fans. The crime organization Nancy Drew took down in The Big Lie is the Syndicate, clearly named after the Stratemeyer Syndicate that produced the original Nancy Drew books. And the Stratemeyer Syndicate’s other creations seemingly all make appearances or at least get name dropped–the Bobbsey Twins, Tom Swift, and the Dana Girls, for instance, are a part of the story as much as Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. At times, the name stuffing seems over the top, as do the attempts to shock readers by turning familiar, fairly bland or goody-goody characters into rebels and criminals. But, I get it. The creators were going for noir.
The mystery itself is fairly uninteresting. Someone wanted Nancy Drew dead, and Joe Hardy wants to figure out who.. The book raises and discards several suspects, and even tries to throw in a twist or two by having characters implicated, but not in the way readers might have suspected. To be honest, though, I did not really care who did it, even though I had a strong suspicion that I knew who had. The point of the book really seems to give readers a “dark” Nancy Drew, and writing a compelling mystery ends up being a secondary concern to experimenting with the characters.
I enjoyed The Death of Nancy Drew as an experiment, but it was admittedly hard for me to see it as a Nancy Drew story, when so many of the characters seem so different. Ned as the mayor? Carson Drew implicated in a crime ring? George potentially on drugs and Bess almost nonexistent in the story? What was happening?? It’s dark and edgy, yes, but but so much so that it could have been any noir comic and not necessarily a Nancy Drew one, if the names had been changed. I think it was worth a read, but I do not feel particularly invested in seeing more of these stories.