Tina Jordan
May 23, 2005 AT 04:00 AM EDT

At one point, most American women were devoted consumers of Nancy Drew mysteries, gobbling up the adventures of the titian-haired detective and her pals George and Bess. So what do amateur sleuth Cece Caruso and her two friends in Not a Girl Detective have to do with that long-ago trio? More than you’d think. The feisty Southern California heroine — a writer who made her debut in I Dreamed I Married Perry Mason — is working on a biography of Carolyn Keene, author of the Nancy Drew series. And her boyfriend Peter is a duplicate of Nancy’s main squeeze, Ned Nickerson. But Nancy’s adventures were downright staid compared with Cece’s wild ones. Though Susan Kandel’s hip charm occasionally grates, this is still a funny, original, well-plotted murder mystery.

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