What happens when Nancy Drew grows up?
In most long-running mystery/thriller series, the protagonist stays pretty much the same from book to book. Watson never checks Sherlock into the Old Sleuths Home. Bunter never ends up pushing a drooling Lord Peter Wimsey around in his wheelchair. The Scooby Gang never get their AARP cards and reminisce about that time they had to have Scooby Doo put down.
But what if their stories did mark the passage of time? I tried to imagine what would happen when ace girl detective Nancy Drew grows up.
NANCY DREW: Woman detective of a certain age
Nancy becomes a lawyer like her dad, Mister Drew. Her chum Bess—following a long career on a popular soap opera—is a celebrity spokesperson for a weight loss chain, while other bestie George came out at last, and is now team-teaching computer engineering with her wife out at Berkeley. Nancy and Ned get married, and have two sons, Nan JR and Mister. Ned (who never graduated from Emerson College because he had to leave every episode to rescue Nancy from being bound and gagged) stays home to raise the boys while Nancy continues to stumble across mysteries every time she backs her (Lexus) roadster out of the driveway. The houses on either side are vacant and other neighbors avoid her, because anyone who has a conversation with Nancy Drew-Nickerson is found dead about fifteen pages later.
But lately, Nancy has been having a few problems. During the de rigueur bound-and-gagged scene in each book, she starts to wonder why Ned can’t be more… exciting…in the bedroom. When she unmasks Bess’ latest boyfriend as the villain’s accomplice, a hot flash has her opening the window (through which he immediately escapes). Every time she goes to make a list of clues, she forgets why she went into her study and ends up catching up with her chums on Facebook or playing Candy Crush on her phone. While investigating, she has trouble remembering some words and has taken to using “thingie” instead. When she finally catches the villains in the act, she starts to cry. Then, a minute later when one of them makes a crack about her new mustache, she thinks, “Screw this.” And shoots them. Lots. With her thingie.
Okay, so maybe Nancy Drew doesn’t make it. But in Anxiety Attack, the latest volume of Kassandra Lamb’s long-running Kate Huntingdon series, the crime-solving psychotherapist has indeed become une femme d’un certain âge. Please see my review below.
Psychotherapist Kate Huntington and her P.I. husband end up at odds over a case when Skip’s undercover operative is shot and the alleged shooter is one of Kate’s clients, a man suffering from severe social anxiety.Skip Canfield had doubts from the beginning about this case, a complicated one of top secret projects and industrial espionage. Now one of his best men, and a friend, is in the hospital fighting for his life. Tensions mount when Skip learns that Kate—who’s convinced her client is innocent and too emotionally fragile to survive in prison—has been checking out leads on her own.Then a suspicious suicide brings the case to a head. Is the shooter tying up loose ends? Almost too late, Skip realizes he may be one of those loose ends, and someone seems to have no qualms about destroying his agency or getting to him through his family.(All books in this series are designed to be read and enjoyed as stand-alones as well.)
- Book Title: Anxiety Attack
- Author: Kassandra Lamb
- Genre: Cozy Mystery
Length: 229 pages
Publisher: Misterio Press LLC (February 18, 2017)
- Purchase Links: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Apple Kobo| Barnes and Noble
In a guest blog about traveling in France, author Kassandra Lamb observed:
There are a few topics that are considered impolite to bring up, as I discovered when I mentioned menopause. The French refer to a woman who is in that prone-to-hot-flashes stage as une femme d’un certain âge–a woman of a certain age.
Luckily for her readers, we’re not in France and Kassandra Lamb’s heroine Kate Huntington-Canfield has boldly gone where no male detective has gone before. Complete with hot flashes, memory lapses, and mood swings.
The Kate of earlier books is now a mature wife and mother, with a daughter barrelling angrily into her teens, pre-menopausal symptoms, and doubts about her own personal and professional abilities. Husband Skip confronts his own worries as his business faces the possibility of failing. What I’ve always enjoyed in earlier books is that Kate uses her background as a psychotherapist to provide a unique take on what’s motivating each character, and how she uses those insights to solve crimes and save the day. But now that same expertise is causing Kate to second-guess herself at every step along the way. When a client is accused of the crime that has one of Kate’s friends hovering between life and death, Kate wants to believe in his innocence. But she isn’t sure whether that’s her professional expertise talking or her fluctuating emotions and mood swings. Both Kate and Skip’s worries cause them to make mistakes which place those they love in danger.
When I review a book, I look for three things. First, how does the author handle the genre, the tropes that make it up, and the setting to which it’s applied. Anxiety Attack ticks off the elements that make it a cozy mystery—amateur sleuth finds something out of the ordinary, and along with posse of quirky secondary characters, investigates the (usually off-screen) murder or violence, all with a minimum of onscreen sex or swearing. But just as Kate is more mature, so her author is pushing at the edges of each of those tropes. Kate can’t cook, probably doesn’t knit, and definitely doesn’t have a cat. She does swear (although tries not to do so in front of her kids), fights with her husband, and definitely likes sex.
The second thing I look for is good editing and gripping writing, and the Kate books never fail to deliver. Without risking spoilers, I can say there is a gripping, terrifying episode that had me on the edge of my seat.
The third—and to me, most important—thing I look for is character development. And having joined Kate and her close circle of family and friends along their journey, I can honestly say that these are characters who’ve become three-dimensional reality for me. They’ve had the chance to grow, change, and age over our years together. So even though you could read this as a stand alone, you are missing so much if you don’t get to know Kate and her family and friends as they’ve grown over the years.
Anxiety Attack is why I love to read books in series. I give it five stars, and urge you to take a look at the whole series before you meet up with Kate and those hot flashes. (Is it just me, or is it way too warm in here?)
*I received this book for free from the publisher or author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.*