Being a long-time Nancy Drew collector, I really looked forward to reading this book, but I found it to be very disappointing. I've read a lot of the 'tart-noir' wacky-gal mystery series, and this book seems to have all the standards - sexy, ditzy gal who just can't seem to get it all together, hunky boyfriend, obsession with glamorous flashy clothes, the need to keep secrets from the police, and on and on. But Cece Caruso just doesn't come off with any realism to me. She's too over-the-top, and she's not even a good detective. By her own admission, over and over throughout the book, she keeps missing the point, and the clues, and everything else that would lead her to understand what's going on and solving the mystery.
Cece is a biographer of mystery writers and in this book she is writing a book about Carolyn Keene, the author of the Nancy Drew books who was and still is a group of ghostwriters. There is a lot of Nancy Drew collecting info in this story that was, for the most, taken from some speculative fan-made guides, honored by some collectors as The Truth but frowned upon as hypothetical by the rest of the bibliographic world. It also seems the author made up some of her own. Her depiction of Nancy Drew collectors at their annual convention in Palm Springs is really unflattering. Believe me, they are not the strange, nerdy, boring people she makes them out to be. For some reason she found it necessary to compare their boring get-together with a wild swinging convention of golf-fan lesbians at the same hotel.
It's disappointing that the first major piece of fiction published about Nancy Drew collecting and Nancy Drew collectors is such a mediocre book that plods along for the most going this way and that in directions that lead nowhere or that Cece just doesn't 'get'. Her obsessions with vintage clothes, gourmet foods, alcoholic beverages, art, and on-again-off-again boyfriend are all pretty interesting, but she and her gang need more characterization, and need to be a little less fabulous-in-every-way to be believable.
Nancy Drew fans who read this book will probably be disappointed. It's less about Nancy and more about Cece and friends and how 'hot' and 'cool' and too-fabulous-to-be-true they are. Let's hope the next author who takes on the Nancy Drew mystique will give it a more interesting treatment.