The Nancy Drew Files a spin-off Nancy Drew series published by Simon & Schuster, which ran from 1986 to 1997. Developed after the sale of the Stratemeyer Syndicate to Simon & Schuster, this series saw Nancy solve more mature mysteries - oftentimes involving murder - and dealing with romantic dilemmas.
- Nancy Drew - Nancy is the main character, who is repeatedly into mysteries and other guys besides her boyfriend, Ned Nickerson.
- Bess Marvin - Bess has a lot of boyfriends through the series. This often gets her into trouble, like being kidnapped, such as The Final Scene.
- George Fayne - Like in the other series, George is interested in sports. However, she also has some romantic interests as well, notably in the "Summer Love Trilogy".
- Ned Nickerson - Ned is Nancy's on-and-off boyfriend, who has a rocky relationship with her.
- Carson Drew - Nancy's father, a widowed lawyer, who sometimes gives Nancy mysteries.
- Hannah Gruen - Hannah is the motherly housekeeper of the Drew's house, who has been working there since the death of Nancy's mother fifthteen years before.
- Brenda Carlton - Brenda Carlton is a reporter for Today's Times, owned by her father, Frazier Carlton. She often causes trouble for Nancy, but is also portrayed as an incompetent rival for Nancy. She first debuts in Secrets Can Kill. She also appears in the Nancy Drew Notebooks, the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys SuperMysteries, and in some Digests books.
- Chief McGinnis - McGinnis serves the same purpose as in other series, as River Heights' Chief of Police. Also staying is his friendly relationship with the Drews.
- Detective Ryan - A local police detective, who often butts heads with Nancy.
Following the sale of the Stratemeyer Syndicate and its properties to Simon & Schuster, the publishers decided to launch a teen-oriented series to compete with such series as Sweet Valley High. Simon & Schuster put the original Nancy Drew series on hiatus for over a year to launch the Files series. The final two volumes to be published before the hiatus, The Bluebeard Room and The Phantom of Venice, are often referred to as "backdoor pilots" to The Nancy Drew Files.
Like the "Digest" books, The Nancy Drew Files was handled by book packager Mega-Books, and edited by Anne Greenberg. While the "Digest" books published a new book every other month, The Nancy Drew Files would publish a new book every month at its height. Both series utilized ghostwriters, many of whom are still unknown. However, some known for the Files series include: Susan Wittig Albert (#6, 11, 14, 22, 26), Bill Albert (#14, 22, 26), Deborah Gaines (#40, 44), and Louise Ladd (#90, 98).
At its height in the late 1980s, The Nancy Drew Files launched two spin-off series. The first was Supermystery, a crossover series with The Hardy Boys Casefiles. The second was River Heights, a romance/soap opera series introduced to directly compete against Sweet Valley High; the thirty-ninth novel, The Suspect Next Door, served as a "backdoor pilot" for the River Heights series. A third spin-off, Nancy Drew on Campus, was launched in 1995.
In the late 1990s, the popularity of all Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series in general began to wane. In 1995, Simon & Schuster announced The Nancy Drew Files would begin every-other-month releases like its parent series. Finally, in 1997, the publisher announced that all of the teenage-aimed Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys spin-offs would be cancelled. The Nancy Drew Files released its final title in December 1997.
At least four planned titles were rewritten into the Digest series. The Missing Horse Mystery matches an ISBN number originally given to Nancy Drew Files #128. The Case of the Captured Queen features Files recurring character Brenda Carlton, her only appearance in the Digest series.
List of titles
Nancy and Ned's relationship
In the Files series, Nancy and Ned have more depth in their relationship than any other series. They are often portrayed as a dysfunctional couple, who depend on the toxicity and drama of how Nancy's cases interfere with their relationship. Arguments are common between the two, mainly as it has something to do with Nancy's sleuthing, or a female in a case Nancy believes is getting too close to Ned. However, Ned does try and support Nancy's detective work, although he is not always successful in this.
Ned broke up with Nancy at the end of Two Points To Murder, because he thought that Nancy didn't trust other people anymore, and had even started distrusting him. He says that it's time that they started dating other people. They are seen with their new love interests in False Moves, and officially get back together in Buried Secrets.
In possibly the most notable book of the series, Till Death Do Us Part, Ned proposes to Nancy, to keep his promise that she would be the first girl he ever proposed to. Ned instead becomes engaged to another woman immediately after, although it is because he is using it as a cover to investigate her.
The romance and soap opera aspect of the series has been criticized by some fans. One of the main criticisms is that the romance is poorly written, or not given enough attention in the books to be effective.
A notable issue with the romantic aspect of the series is Nancy's frequent infidelity. Although she is in a relationship with Ned, Nancy has often kissed other men (who, for the most part, are suspects in the case) besides Ned. This can often cause some of the drama in their relationship, although it sometimes does not. Her behavior is often ignored or excused in the books, which has been criticized by fans. A list of these men include:
- Secrets Can Kill - Darryl Gray
- Smile and Say Murder - Mick Swanson
- Hit and Run Holiday - Dirk Beaumon
- Wings of Fear - Paul
- Sisters in Crime - Peter
- Summer of Love trilogy - Sasha
- In Norway, the Nancy Drew Files were called Nancy Drew Tar Saken.
- The publisher accidentally included the Digest book Stranger in the Shadows in the series. The cover was edited so that Nancy was not wearing a sweater, and was wearing a shirt instead.
- Similarly, three Files books were put into the Norwegian Digest series.
- In France, the Nancy Drew Files were called Les Enquêtes de Nancy.
- The first 6 Files books were published, along with Digest books The Eskimo's Secret, The Bluebeard Room, and The Phantom of Venice.
- A promotional booklet was published to promote the series.
- The series introduced three spin-off series:
- Supermystery (1988-1998) - Crossover with Hardy Boys spin-off equivalent, Hardy Boys Casefiles.
- River Heights (1989-1992) - Romance series based on Nancy's neighbor, Nikki Masters. Its backdoor pilot was #39, The Suspect Next Door.
- Nancy Drew on Campus (1995-1998) - Romance/soap opera series, focusing on Nancy and friends in college.
- The 1995 Nancy Drew TV series was based off the Nancy Drew Files.
- Several books from the series have been made into computer games by Her Interactive: Secrets Can Kill (#1), Stay Tuned for Danger (#2), The Final Scene (#5), Death by Design (#14, as Danger by Design), and False Impressions (#25, as Alibi in Ashes).