The Susan Sand Mystery Stories   

The Susan Sand Mystery Stories
by Marilyn Ezzell

It was starting to get dark, and the mountain air was very chilly.  Susan and Marge had gone only a short distance when an extraordinary event occurred.  Without warning, a voice said, "Susan, Susan Sand."

The two friends stopped in their tracks and looked up, for the voice seemed to come from above.

"I'm up here, in this tree," someone said.

Susan and Marge stared into the branches of a huge chestnut.  They blinked several times, certain that their eyes were deceiving them.  The face of a woman was looking out through the leaves.

—page 128, The Search for the Snowship Songs

The Susan Sand Mystery Stories series was published in softcover by Pinnacle Books from 1982 through 1984.  The series consists of eight volumes and was written by Marilyn Ezzell.  The series was marketed as a rival to the Nancy Drew series, and advertisements for the series described Susan Sand as "a modern detective heroine in the classic tradition of Nancy Drew."

Titles in the Susan Sand Series:

  1. The Mystery at Hollowhearth House, 1982
  2. The Secret of Clovercrest Castle, 1982
  3. The Clue in Witchwhistle Well, 1982
  4. The Riddle of Raggedrock Ridge, 1982
  5. The Phantom of Featherford Falls, 1983
  6. The Password to Diamonddwarf Dale, 1983
  7. The Search for the Snowship Songs, 1984
  8. The Mystery of Beggarbay Bluff, 1984

1980 Nancy Drew Book

The cover design of the Susan Sand books is similar to the Nancy Drew Wanderer books of the time.  The Nancy Drew connection is further exploited in the summaries that appear on the back of the books.  Two of the summaries use the word "keen," which refers to Nancy Drew author Carolyn Keene, and one summary describes Susan's adventure as "spine-tingling," a word used on the back of each Nancy Drew picture cover.

This series has been described by series book enthusiasts as a bad parody of Nancy Drew, but it is more than that.  The series is a collective parody of Nancy Drew, the Dana Girls, and Kay Tracey, with a little Vicki Barr, Judy Bolton, and Penny Parker thrown into the mix.  Both the Dana Girls and Kay Tracey books have bizarre plots that leave the reader wanting to laugh.  Susan Sand encounters adventures that are easily as absurd as the most bizarre Dana Girls and Kay Tracey adventures.  Additionally, Susan is a master of disguise and can fool even her closest friends into thinking that she is an elderly man or woman.

This series appears to have been written by a series book enthusiast, and the author unquestionably had extensive knowledge of the different series books mentioned in the above paragraph.  The titles of all of the books are styled after the titles of classic Grosset and Dunlap series books.  All of the books contain series book motifs.

Susan Sand is a nineteen year old mystery writer.  Professor Randall Scott is her admirer, and Marge Halloran is her best friend.  Susan's cat, Icky, is named after an Egyptian ruler, and his full name is Ikhnaton Amenhotep IV.  Icky is a highly unusual and intelligent cat like Judy Bolton's cat, Blackberry.

The first four books are primarily parodies of different series books.  The plots of these books are bizarre and hard to follow at times.  Frankly, I did not enjoy the first three books aside from the task of noting different series book motifs.  The fourth book is better but still reads like a parody.  Volumes 5 through 8 have much stronger plots and are very enjoyable stories.  I recommend the first four books for those who desire a parody, and the last four books for those who desire a good series book.

All of the books in this series are scarce, with volumes 7 and 8 the most difficult to find.

Look for my Susan Sand article in the July/August 2007 issue of The Sleuth.

The below summaries were taken from the back covers of the books.
  #1 The Mystery at Hollowhearth House

Susan Sand, award-winning mystery writer, is enlisted by her best friend, Marge Halloran, to recover the rightful inheritance to Hollowhearth House, swindled form Marge's grandfather years ago.  Entanglement, danger, and startling discoveries greet our young sleuths at every turn.

In a chilling adventure that take us from Hollowhearth House to New York City to Thornewood's Irongate University, Susan Sand employs her courage, sleuthing abilities, and clever deduction to outwit her cunning enemies and unravel this suspenseful and puzzling mystery.

Susan Sand #1 The Mystery at Hollowhearth House
  #2 The Secret of Clovercrest Castle

Susan Sand, mystery writer and detective, accepts an invitation to stay in beautiful Clovercrest Castle with her friend Christine Sommers.  Danger and intrigue await Susan at every twisting turn in this spine-tingling adventure that takes us from the elegant drawing rooms and musty, tangled passages of Clovercrest to Needle Mountain ski resort.

Susan must employ her courage, detective skills, and clever reasoning to solve a bizarre mystery that begins with a bewildering postcard and a missing friend from France.

Susan Sand #2 The Secret of Clovercrest Castle
  #3 The Clue in Witchwhistle Well

A summer picnic in the country evolves into a treacherous full-scale mystery for Susan Sand and her friends, Marge and Christine.  The curious theft of an intricately-carved miniature wishing well leads Susan to Witchwhistle Well and an amazing discovery.

In a chilling adventure that takes us from Owl Lake to the Snaketongue River to Irongate University and to King's Carnival, our young sleuth combines her daring and courage with keen perception and clever deduction to outmaneuver her cunning adversaries in her most perilous mission yet.

Susan Sand #3 The Clue in Witchwhistle Well
  #4 The Riddle of Raggedrock Ridge

Susan Sand and her best friend Marge Halloran are horseback riding on a tranquil autumn day.  As they reach Raggedrock Ridge, boulders and rocks begin to tumble and splinter, and an earth tremor ensues, bolting Marge from her horse.  Susan seeks aid at the odd-looking home of a mysterious doctor.  Bizarre events lead to a puzzling mystery about an 1890s earthquake and some missing jewels.

Danger and intrigue await our daring young sleuth amidst the moonlight shadows and craggy nooks of Raggedrock Ridge as she solves her most amazing adventure yet.

Susan Sand #4 The Riddle of Raggedrock Ridge
  #5 The Phantom of Featherford Falls

Susan Sand, author and sleuth, is joined by best friend Marge Halloran at Feather Inn.  On a picnic to the breathtaking falls with Marge and Brave Deer, an Indian boy, they see an eerie phantom through the majestic falls.

A couple of sly, unscrupulous guests at the inn attempt to outwit Susan, but she proves they are no match for her detective skills and daring.  This puzzling, treacherous case about the disappearance and rescue of a tribal artifact sets right an ancient wrong.

Susan Sand #5 The Phantom of Featherford Falls
  #6 The Password to Diamonddwarf Dale

A winter ice-skating fete at the palatial estate of Jasper Gregory, the Diamonddwarf, evolves into a baffling, suspenseful mystery for Susan Sand and her friends.  In pursuit of a curious clue, Susan finds herself trapped in an antique chest, hoisted away by the notorious "Gemstone Gang."

In her most daring adventure yet, Susan must employ her courage, cool intelligence, and sharp detective skills to outwit her sinister conspirators and unravel the password to Diamonddward Dale.

Susan Sand #6 The Password to Diamonddwarf Dale
  #7 The Search for the Snowship Songs

Susan Sand accepts an invitation to tea at gloomy Malindor Manor, where an exotic gypsy woman draws her into a baffling web of intrigue.

The tea leaves foretell a ghostly black bird in flight—the first in a collection of clues Susan will find as she solves the mystery of the missing Snowship Songs.

Dark figures lurk in every corner.  Susan must use every ounce of her keen perception and sleuthing abilities to unravel this intricate nineteenth century puzzle.

Susan Sand #7 The Search for the Snowship Songs
  #8 The Mystery of Beggarbay Bluff

While vacationing at remote Beggarbay Bluff, Susan Sand is visited by a ghostly pirate, an eerie swashbuckler who tries to lure the raven-haired sleuth through a darkened doorway to a watery death on the treacherous rocks below.  Thus begins Susan's most baffling and dangerous case ever!

Susan soon discovers that The Mystery of Beggarbay Bluff centers around the imposing Beggarbay Beacon, a lighthouse whose lamp guides ships to safety, but whose stone walls hide a million dollar secret, a secret some will kill to protect.  Can Susan solve the mystery in time?

Susan Sand #8 The Mystery of Beggarbay Bluff
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