One death at Deadman’s Cliff is a tragedy. Two, under very similar circumstances, is a suspicious coincidence. But three? Nancy gets deeper into her investigation, the whole gang goes undercover at a pop-up rave, and Bess goes missing!

Nancy Drew #4 ReviewNANCY DREW #4

Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Jenn St-Onge
Colorist: Triona Farrell
Letterer: Ariana Maher
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: September 12, 2018

Previously in Nancy Drew: After Nancy and Pete find another body at Deadman’s Cliff, Nancy tries to talk to the police, who brush her off.  Her panicked friends race up to find her there, and she has to apologize to them for being irresponsible. She also finds out that Pete’s mom had traces of a drug called “eXcess” in her system. Bess volunteers that she knows a little something about this drug (Bess! Hidden depths!), and that it is associated with a rave that happens every so often. The game is afoot!

IT ISN’T JUST FUN AND GAMES ANY MORE

Nancy Drew #4 starts out where the last issue ended, with Pete and Nancy at Locke Lobster, a restaurant out at the docks. A young man out for a smoke break invites them in, and identifies himself as Blake Locke, the owner. Nancy says they’re there to find out more about the death of a woman who worked there. Blake, rightfully, challenges them on what right they have to be asking, but when Nancy admits that Mariana Vega was Pete’s mother, he opens up a little. Over the past ten years, five employees, as well as Blake’s father, have all died. Hmm…this could be suspicious.

They leave the restaurant and Nancy’s friends arrive. She was supposed to touch base with them, and forgot her phone. Again. But it turns out that Ms. Vega was not the only former Locke Lobster employee to meet her end at the Cliff – Katherine Nguyen did as well. Frank found this out by research; Nancy suspected it by an observation she made when talking with Blake, which is a nice touch for a detective story. I enjoy seeing the thought process.

There is a scene where we get more information – a mystery story of this sort needs to feed us a lot of information – and then helps us keep track of the story by asking questions. Pete’s mother had high levels of the drug in her bloodstream, and it is known to be able to cause hallucinations. Still, why was she at Deadman’s Cliff? And why have there now been three such deaths in the same location?

In a cute scene with Bess, we find out that the rave is the next night, and she has a way to get them in. They go there and split up to investigate. George and her girlfriend head to the bathroom, where they find out that a couple girls who are usually waitresses did not show. The boys head to the bar, meet a young lady there, and buy some drugs without really intending to. Bess and Nancy, dressed like substitute waitresses, get sent to check in with Ricky, an older guy who says he just needs people to keep out of his area for the night.

George texts, and the group attempts to get back together, although Bess finds a place where she can see into Ricky’s office and stays to spy a little while longer. She sees Ricky drag out the apparent body of a waitress. Nancy meets with her friends and then goes back for Bess – who is not there anymore. She has been tied up, gagged, and thrown in the trunk of a car. (On the one hand, this is quite the mystery trope. On the other hand, it really does fit in with the plot of a Nancy Drew mystery.)

DEFTLY HANDLING SIMULTANEOUS PLOTS

I still love the breezy art in Nancy Drew #4. The characters are distinctive and the most subtle of expressions play across their faces. When people exchange meaningful glances, you can tell. People often don’t tell their friends what they’re actually feeling, and you get a strong sense of that here that helps move the story along.

We have a variety of scenes in this issue, and I think we get a solid sense of place. The office at Locke Lobster looks like it is a place where people work, and the inspirational poster on the wall is a particularly nice touch.  The rave scene is terrific, and I really like how the young ladies are all dressed up and with their party make-up on. It just feels right. Also during the rave, when they break up into three groups, the story breaks out into three tracks – each one taking a third of the page for several pages. Not only that, but each investigation has its own color scheme. You really feel that they’re all moving along at the same time, and they are easy to follow. The inks and the colors are just lovely in this issue as well.

BOTTOM LINE: THINGS ARE GETTING SERIOUS

By the time we’ve reached Nancy Drew #4, things have gotten pretty intense. We know these are young people investigating. They are clever and resolute, but we also get a sense that they are still a bit vulnerable, and maybe getting in over their heads. This mystery isn’t something like a missing high school mascot; it really is life and death. Or maybe let’s hope it isn’t more death.

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About Author

By day, she’s a mild-mannered bureaucrat and Ms. Know-It-All. By night, she’s a dance teacher and RPG player (although admittedly not on the same nights). On the weekends, she may be found judging Magic, playing Guild Wars 2 (badly), or following other creative pursuits. Holy Lack of Copious Free Time, Batman! While she’s always wished she had teleportation as her superpower, she suspects that super-speed would be much more practical because then she’d have time to finish up those steampunk costumes she’s also working on.

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