Deadly Intent


Readability Age Range



Year Published

Book Review

This mystery book by Carolyn Keene is the second in ” The Nancy Drew Files” series, 1986 edition, and is an Archway Paperback published by Pocket Books, a division of Simon and Schuster Inc.

Deadly Intent is written for kids ages 11 to 14. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.

Plot Summary

Nancy Drew’s father, a well-known attorney, handles contract negotiations for a friend’s son’s band, Bent Fender. Roger Gold is the band’s drummer. The band invites 18-year-old Nancy and her friends (Bess Marvin, George Fayne and Bess’ boyfriend, Alan Wales) backstage for their Radio City Music Hall concert in New York and for a tour of the city’s nightclubs.

At the music hall, Roger greets the group and introduces them to the rest of the band. Barton Novak, the lead guitarist, tells Nancy he wants to talk to her after the show. After awhile, Roger recognizes Alan as a guitarist in another band and compliments him.

Bent Fender goes onstage to warm up while Nancy and her friends wait in the band’s lounge. Roger rushes back into the lounge looking for Barton. Nancy, her friends and the band go to Barton’s dressing room. They notice Barton’s boots and guitar and think something happened. Linda Ferrare, the band’s bass player and backup singer, tells Nancy and her friends that Barton disappeared twice before. Roger worries that this time is different. He also tells Nancy that Barton thinks their agents and producers are cheating the band.

The band invites Alan to play in Barton’s place until he is found, and Alan accepts. The musicians don’t want to call the police, so Nancy and her friends start their investigation by exploring the building. At the stage door entrance, Nancy talks to the guards. When they mention that they let in two men with big boxes to unload equipment, the roadies playing cards with them get upset. The two men weren’t band members, and the roadies already had taken care of the equipment.

Nancy gets a description of the two men. Next, she finds a wallet on the floor that has a dragon on it. The tail of the dragon is in the shape of an “L.” As she continues looking at it, someone hits her on the head. When she regains consciousness, the concert is almost over, and the wallet is gone.

After the concert, Nancy tells her friends what happened. The morning newspaper headlines Barton’s disappearance. Nancy asks to go with her father to his appointment with the band’s agent, Ann Nordquist. Ann tells Nancy that she doesn’t think Barton is getting cheated. She gives Nancy names of people to talk to at the record company. Ann confirms Barton’s previous disappearances. She doesn’t think any of the people she listed for Nancy match the guards’ descriptions.

Nancy easily gets through security at the record company and visits the people on her list, including Harold Marshall. Harold’s secretary, Vivian, doesn’t want to let Nancy in, but Nancy walks past her into the office. Harold tells Nancy that Alan came to see him about getting a record contract, and Harold wasn’t interested. Harold also tells her that Barton’s disappearance is probably a publicity stunt. He hasn’t noticed anyone matching the guards’ descriptions.

At lunch, Bess and Alan unexpectedly join Nancy and George. Vivian called, and the company wants to produce an album with Alan after all. Alan says Barton (wearing a favorite bandana) was in Harold’s office when Alan went back to meet with Harold. Barton appreciated Alan covering for him and wants him to continue for a little while. Alan and Bess are going to the recording studios after lunch.

Back at the hotel, Nancy gets a message that one of the music hall guards has additional information. Nancy’s boyfriend, Ned Nickerson, calls. He saw the story in the paper about Barton. When Nancy tells him about the case and being hit on the head, Ned decides to come to New York. After they hang up, Nancy calls the guard. The guard discovered Barton’s bandana the night before, after Nancy and her friends left, and a fire escape latch is broken.

Nancy and George go the recording company offices to talk to Alan. The receptionist directs the girls off-site to the recording studios. When the girls get to the studios, they find that Bess and Alan have just left. As Nancy and George are leaving, they see Vivian putting a package in one of the rooms. After Vivian leaves, Nancy and George go to the package. It’s the group’s original music recordings. The sign-out sheet has Barton’s name on it, but not Vivian’s.

Nancy thinks that Barton has been kidnapped and calls Roger. She updates him on the case and asks who has access to their original recordings. Nancy thinks someone is making and selling illegal copies of the band’s albums. Roger tells her technicians, musicians and record company executives usually have access to the room and the recordings.

Stopping at the library, Nancy and George research the music black market and international copyright laws. After they meet Ned at his hotel, they go to a club. When Bess and Alan arrive, Nancy questions Alan’s story about seeing Barton. Alan insists Barton was in Harold’s office. Bess supports Alan and gets mad at Nancy.

As Nancy and Ned leave the club, they run into a college friend of Ned’s, Dave Peck. Dave gives Nancy a strange look. Later, Ned tells Nancy that Dave was expelled from school and had worked at a record store. Watching Dave get into a limousine, Nancy realizes he matches one of the descriptions the music hall guards gave her. Nancy gets a glimpse of the car’s license plate and notices a dragon on the plate.

The next morning, Ned calls the record store and the college. The record store fired Dave for selling illegal album copies and pocketing the profit. Ned gets Dave’s mother’s phone number from a friend. Nancy phones Dave’s mother and finds out Dave calls home weekly, but his mother doesn’t know his home address or where he works, but she thinks Dave works for someone named Li.

That night, Nancy, Ned and George go to a Bent Fender concert to look for Dave. Inside the club, Nancy sees Alan, Bess, Vivian and others she knows, but not Dave. After a music video shows Dave and Vivian as a couple, Alan and the band go onstage, but Alan’s amplifier short circuits, and the club lights go out.

When the club lights come back, Nancy finds Alan, but Bess is missing. Eventually, Alan tells everyone the whole story. Bess was kidnapped during the blackout. Alan hadn’t really seen Barton in Marshall’s office. Before Alan came to the concert that night, he overheard Vivian on the phone in Marshall’s office. Vivian was behind the publicity angle for Barton’s disappearance and the record contract offer to Alan. A shipment leaving the country that night includes a body. Nancy thinks the shipment is illegal album copies for sale overseas. The group is afraid that the body is Barton, and that Bess might make two. Alan shows Nancy and the group a note from Bess’ kidnappers warning him to keep quiet. Concerned for their friends, Nancy and the others stay on the case.

The group deduces that the pick-up place for the shipment is a downtown restaurant. Before they leave the club, Nancy calls the police for backup. At the restaurant, a dragon symbol with an “L” shaped tail is above the entrance. Nancy and Alan get in the restaurant to look around while the others wait outside.

Nancy and Alan don’t find anything inside, but a window behind a wall tapestry prompts them to look outside for a back entrance. As they rejoin the group, they see Dave and another man loading a truck. A third man accompanies them, and a fourth is standing watch. Nancy and the group overpower the four men and lock them in the truck. Alan waits outside for the police while the others go upstairs.

They find recording equipment in the loft. Roger finds Bess and Barton tied up in a room off the loft; he and the other musicians untie them. As everyone reunites, James Li, who is Dave’s boss, and his men unlock the truck and intercept the police and handcuff them. Alan escapes, and Li corners the rest.

Vivian and Dave arrive. James goes ahead to the docks and tells Dave to set fire to the building once he finishes loading the truck. Nancy tries to talk Vivian out of committing murder. As they are talking, Alan disarms Vivian and unties his friends. They subdue Dave, Vivian and their accomplices.

The police arrive. Dave tells them the dock James is on, so James and his accomplices are caught. The Chinatown Neighborhood Association hosts a lunch the next day for Nancy and her friends. Bess is still bothered by Alan’s lies, but George encourages her cousin to remember that he also saved their lives. Barton and Roger offer to help Alan in the music industry.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems


Authority Roles

The guards at the music hall initially don’t let in Nancy and her friends, and they don’t believe her when she says they have been invited by Roger. Nancy asks the guards to call Roger. After they get off the phone, the guards apologize for doubting Nancy and let the group enter.

The guards at the music hall are playing cards with some roadies when Nancy comes to talk to them. The guards willingly answer Nancy’s questions. But when the roadies find out the guards had let in people unassociated with the band, they get mad. The guards and roadies argue. The roadies blame the guards for Barton’s disappearance and call them names. Nancy successfully referees.

Ann is polite to Nancy when she meets her and expresses concern for Barton. The guards at the record company are pleasant and let Nancy come in right away. Most of the people Nancy interviews at the company are cooperative.

When Nancy goes to Harold’s office, however, his secretary, Vivian, tells Nancy that Harold is busy. Nancy goes in anyway. Sitting at his desk, smoking, Harold is unhappy about being disturbed. When Vivian asks him not to be mad, he apologizes to her but then sneers at Nancy and is surly with her. Harold is annoyed by the visit from Alan and complains about Ann. Harold is impatient with Nancy and doesn’t really want to take time to answer questions, but ends up answering a few. Harold tells Nancy that Barton is fine and his disappearance is a publicity stunt, but that if Nancy says anything to the media he will deny it. Vivian threatens Alan.

Profanity & Violence

There is no profanity. There is violence, but it isn’t graphic. Nancy is hit on the head in the beginning when she is looking for clues and finds a wallet. Nancy shakes Alan’s shoulders when she is trying to get him to talk at the club after the blackout. Barton and Bess’ kidnappers tie them to chairs.

Nancy, her friends and the band members get into several scuffles as they try to rescue Barton and Bess. Nancy hits the watchman guarding the restaurant back door with a karate move to the man’s chin and knocks him out. Ned, Roger and Nancy jump Dave and the two other men. Dave twists Nancy’s arm behind her back. The rest of the group (Alan, George, Linda, Mark and Jim) comes to help, and they lock all four men in the back of the truck.

James comes to the restaurant, discovers his men locked in the truck, lets them out and waits for the police. He and his men ambush the police and handcuff them. James surprises Nancy and the group in the loft, points a gun at them and tells Dave to tie them up. James leaves Dave and Vivian to finish loading the truck and setting the warehouse on fire while he goes ahead to the dock.

Alan sneaks up behind Vivian, dumps hot soup on her and takes away the gun she is holding. He quickly unties his friends. Dave and his accomplices re-enter the room and a fight ensues. The narrative indicates that punching and kicking take place, but isn’t specific about injuries. Dave and the men lose the fight. Nancy, her friends and the band members tie up the criminals.

Sexual Content

Ned starts to kiss Nancy as they are leaving the club, but Dave interrupts. Later Nancy, Ned and George go to one of the band’s concerts to look for Dave. As they get in line to go into the club, Ned lightly touches Nancy’s cheek with his lips. A couple kissing in a music video shown at the club turns out to be Dave and Vivian. After the power outage in the club, Nancy kisses Ned.

Discussion Topics

If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:

  • Bess believes Alan’s lies and argues with Nancy.
  • After Nancy rescues her and Barton, she apologizes to Nancy.
  • Describe a time when you argued with a friend.
  • How did you feel?
  • How was the situation resolved?
  • What is your friendship like now?
  • Have you ever had to apologize for something you’ve said or done? Explain.
  • How was your relationship with that person affected?
  • How can a resolved disagreement make a relationship stronger?

  • Dave doesn’t want to hurt people. Vivian’s advice to him is to do what James says.

  • Have you ever had a friend give you wrong advice?
  • How did you respond?
  • Have friends ever asked you to do something you didn’t want to do?
  • How did you respond?
  • What are some ways you can respond to negative peer pressure?

  • Alan made a mistake in lying to his friends.

  • Describe times you or others have lied.
  • How did you handle the situation?
  • What was the outcome?
  • How did people treat you after the deception was known?
  • What did you do to make up for misleading others?
  • What do you do now to keep yourself from lying?

Additional Comments

Smoking: Harold smokes a cigar. The watchman at the back entrance of the restaurant smokes a cigarette. Nancy asks him for a cigarette and momentarily puts the cigarette in her mouth, but doesn’t smoke it. Instead, as the watchman offers her a light, she uses a karate move to knock him out.

Lying: Alan lies about seeing Barton in Harold’s office. When Dave meets Ned and Nancy outside the club, he says he dropped out of school when he was actually expelled. Ned tells Dave’s mother that he and Dave are friends, but then goes on to clarify that they were in college together and he saw Dave the night before. Talking to Nancy after the phone call, he expresses regret for misleading Dave’s mother about the boys’ friendship. Because he is scared, Alan says Bess went back to the hotel from the club when she really hadn’t; but Nancy pushes him for the truth and he eventually tells everything. He is sorry for lying and wishes he hadn’t. Nancy lies to a restaurant hostess about wanting to use the bathroom and then about having a relative who is a regular customer at the restaurant so the hostess will let them in to look around the building. When she wants to look behind a wall tapestry and needs the table occupants in front of it to move, Nancy lies about dining there herself that night and losing an earring. Nancy’s shoulder is injured and painful after a tussle with Dave outside the restaurant, but tells George she is OK. When George finds out Nancy lied and reprimands her for it, Nancy is matter-of-fact and not apologetic.

Weapons: Someone throws a knife at Nancy when she is trying to see the limousine license plate, but it misses her. When Ned and Nancy go back to look for the knife, it is gone. James and Dave both have guns. James points his gun at Nancy, her friends and the band members in the loft but doesn’t fire it. James and Dave give their guns to Vivian at different points during the loft scene. She points the guns at the group but doesn’t fire them. Nancy suggests Alan take Vivian’s gun with him when he goes to check on the police.

Name-calling: The roadies playing the cards with the music hall guards call them morons when they find out the guards let two strangers with boxes big enough to hide a body into the hall. Marshall disparages Alan and calls him an idiot when he is talking to Nancy.

This review is brought to you by Focus on the Family, a donor-based ministry. Book reviews cover the content, themes and world-views of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book’s inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

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