Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Book Review: The Clue of the Whistling Bagpipes

The Clue of the Whistling Bagpipes (Nancy Drew, #41)
The Clue of the Whistling Bagpipes

Series: Nancy Drew Mystery Stories #41
Published: February 1, 1964
Warnings not to go to Scotland can't stop Nancy Drew from setting out on a thrill-packed mystery adventure.
Undaunted by the vicious threats, the attractive young detective - with her father and her two close friends - goes to visit her great-grandmother at an imposing estate in the Scottish Highlands, and to solve the mystery of a missing family heirloom.
And there is another mystery to be solved: the fate of flocks of stolen sheep.
Baffling clues challenge Nancy's powers of deduction: a note written in the ancient Gaelic language, a deserted houseboat on Loch Lomond, a sinister red-bearded stranger in Edinburgh, eerie whistling noises in the Highlands. Startling discoveries in an old castle and in the ruins of a prehistoric fortress, on a rugged mountain slope and in a secluded glen, lead Nancy closer to finding solutions to both mysteries.
Wearing a time-honored tartan, Nancy climbs the mountain of Ben Nevis in the dark of night and plays a tune of historic heroism on the bagpipes -all part of her daring plan to trap the sheep thieves and to recover the valuable heirloom.
The Mystery
Nancy sure has her fill of mysteries in this one! First she's called to Scotland to help find her great-grandmother's missing heirloom that she was supposed to inherit, then there's a sheep smuggling ring, and someone is forging checks in Nancy's name! And then there's the trouble of her new found fame after Bess enters a photo of her sleuthing into a contest.

My Thoughts
It's been a while since I've read one of the "classics" and with the recent release of The Silent Spy, I thought The Clue of the Whistling Bagpipes would be a good choice to fill some free time. Since it's been a couple of years between reading from this series, I had forgotten a few things. Like how each chapter ends with a cliffhanger. (I found some of the endings to be kind of amusing.) And how the culprits explained everything to Nancy at the end. However, since this book obviously comes later in the series, I don't think it was as mystery centered as some of the other books have been, especially the earlier books. I feel like they were trying to cram too much into one story.
And then there's the whole business with the sheep smuggling. (I can't help but giggle while writing that.) I know Scotland has a lot of sheep, but really? What was surprising about that part of the mystery was the grim turn it took towards the end.
I was also hoping to learn a bit more about Nancy's mom in this book, but alas, to no avail.

What We Learn
As always with Nancy Drew, there's always something to learn. To be honest, I think the book spent more time on Scottish history than on the mystery. We also learn some Gaelic, we learn about the different tartans of the Scottish clans, bagpipes, and some folk music. Ironically, we don't learn anything about sheep.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Game Review: The Silent Spy #29

The Silent Spy ~ Game #29
Defuse a Toxic Plot and Reveal the Truth Behind Kate Drew's Death!
Nearly a decade ago Agent Kate Drew left home to neutralize a biochemical weapon in Scotland. While her assignment was a success, Kate died in a car accident. Or so we were told. Now the echoes of a similar plot reverberate and it's up to you, as detective Nancy Drew, to thwart the sleeper cell and expose the truth about your mother's tragic demise.
First play through: October 16, 2013 ( I played for 7 hours straight)
Format: PC DVD-ROM
Bonus Edition
Game Rating: E 10+ for Mild Violence

First Impressions
Oh my, was I excited for The Silent Spy. When I saw the trailer at the end of GTH, I had an absolute spazz attack. Being a hardcore Nancy Drew fan, I was so excited to be learning more about Nancy's mom. She's only mentioned here and there in the books and the games, but we don't really know much about here. (Disclaimer: I have not read The Clue of the Whistling Bagpipes, the book which SPY is based on. Maybe we learn more about her in that book. I've been meaning to read it but things get in the way.) I was also very excited that it was taking place in Scotland. I could tell even from the teaser trailer that this was not going to be an ordinary mystery for Nancy.

Plot and Setting
As I stated above, I was so excited that it was taking place in Scotland. I absolutely love the UK. We get to see different parts for Scotland, which is always awesome, and I really felt like this was one of those games I wanted to live in.
As far as the plot goes, probably the closest game to this one would be VEN. Both have Nancy working undercover for a bigger organization, but the similarities stop there. SPY is so much bigger than VEN. I loved using all the spy gadgets and solving all the puzzles--it made me feel quite fancy! I went through a spy phase when I was young this maybe in a way this was me living out that dream.
But the one thing I absolutely loved about SPY were the flashbacks Nancy has. At certain points in the game we get to see bits of Nancy's childhood and her memories of her mom. Again, as a huge fan, I was spazzing.

Alec Fell: He's the first person we meet in the game. He's a bit questionable at first, but I liked him. He was helpful without giving too much away, but her definitely had his secrets.

Bridget Shaw: She started out being really annoying, but as I progressed through the game, she became my favorite character. However, I can't say anything more. That's classified.

Moira Chisholm: I kind of forgot she existed at some points. She was mainly there to fill in some blanks about Nancy's mom.

Ewan MacLeod: Another character I kind of forgot about. But as the game went on, he seemed to know a little too much about some things.

Kate Drew: There are not enough words to describe my elation for the fact that we get to meet her in this game.She's just awesome and I loved everything about her.

Other characters and phone friends: a Mysterious Caller, Ned Nickerson, and Carson Drew.

Game Play
SPY uses the latest interface (4th generation) for game play. I love the task bar in this interface since it gives me easy access to hints if I need them. I had no problems with lag or anything else until I got to the very end of the game. It kind of froze and wouldn't load properly, but I think that was my fault, not the game's.

Game Grade: A
SPY has definitely become one of my all time favorites. There were tons of puzzles and each was connected to the next in such an intricate line of secrets. I thought HeR did a wonderful job with the integration of Nancy's past and her mother into the other storyline about Revenant and Cathedral. The writing and character development was just so good and absolutely everyone has secrets and motives. I can usually figure out who the culprit is but I had a bit of a hard time with that. I did not know who to trust. This is definitely a must play for Nancy Drew fans.

Hints and Tips
As I always say, take notes! You'll really need it for this game. Also, make sure you look EVERYWHERE. I ran into a bit of trouble in my second play-through because I forgot to look in certain places for items that are important later on. And by doing that, I managed to get all but two awards.

Happy sleuthing!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Silent Spy is HERE!!

My copy of SPY just came in the mail mere minutes ago! 

I smoosh it on meh face.
I'm installing right now and trying to contain my excitement. What will wait for us to discover in Scotland?

Who else has gotten their copy?