The Nancys


For a while I wasn't sure if New Zealand-born author R.W.R. McDonald's debut novel, The Nancys, was supposed to be a book for adults, young adults or children. Our protagonist is Tippy Chan, eleven years old; but she is aided and abetted by a couple of gloriously adults-only characters in her uncle Pike and his flamboyant boyfriend Devon (the secondary meaning of Nancys has only just struck me -- der!). Tippy aspires to be her mystery-solving heroine, Nancy Drew (I was a big fan of Nancy D, too, at the same age, as well as Nancy Blackett) and when murders start to happen in Tippy's hometown, the scene is set for a dangerous quest while Tippy's mum is away on a cruise. But there are other secrets to be uncovered, the most important being how Tippy's own father died.

Tippy is a great narrator, observant and smart, but allowing space for the reader to put together clues she doesn't quite understand. The Nancys is wonderful fun, packed with jokes but also warm and sweet as well as an absorbing mystery. There is a sequel, Nancy Business, and The Nancys has been optioned for a film -- I really hope it happens, because The Nancys will make a fantastic movie.

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