Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sleuthing Sundays - Nancy Drew #1, #2, #3

I don't know if this will be a regular feature or anything, but I have a lot of Nancy Drew books to read so I'm going to doing the reviews on Sundays when I have some.
Originally written in 1930 when the first Nancy Drew book appeared, Nancy has stood the test of time.  But believe it or not, she's been updated.  The original Nancy Drew books had a language that reflected their times and were racially and culturally very un-PC.  So beginning in 1959, the Stratemeyer Syndicate began updating them resulting in the yellow hardcovers that are so familiar to everyone today. The Nancy Drew Challenge is to read all 56 of the yellow books.

The Secret of the Old Clock (Nancy Drew Mystery Stories 1)
"Not many girls would have used their wits the way you did," the officer observed. p. 140 
Nancy's first case!  Although I get the impression that she's done other minor detective work before this given some of the comments her dad makes.  Anyway, one day Nancy is driving and she see a little girl run out into the road and fall down a hill.  Long story short (too late) Nancy can't help but get involved with a case about an old man who promised some people money in his will and then didn't follow through.  Nancy thinks that this must be a mistake!  And sets out to find a newer will so that her friends won't be poor and can afford stuff (but good stuff, like education and a trip, etc.).
I could go on about the influence of Nancy Drew and her history.  I've done a lot of research, but let me just say that growing up I read almost every Nancy Drew book there was or at least it seemed so.  I went through a phase where I did research and read anything I could find about the history of Nancy Drew and why she was important to pop culture and young girls.  So I have a lot of love for her.  But I will admit that these books are fairly standard by today's standards and the writing can leave much to be desired as they were eventually churned out by a bunch of ghostwriters (though they never get as bad as say The Babysitter's Club series or any of the Sweet Valley books).  I will also admit to Nancy being a busybody and a goody-goody.  She just can't help herself, almost literally.  So, of course, with a case involving poor people, old people, little girls, Nancy only wants to help them with no thought for herself.  I find it interesting that one of her original motives from the 1930 book was the sanctification of giving the Topham girls comeuppance a little interesting.  Because any impure motives are removed in this revision.
Anyway, Nancy goes to great lengths and a little danger to find the new will of Josiah Crowley and help those in need.  The End.

The Hidden Staircase (Nancy Drew Mystery Stories 2)
Nancy dashed from the table to find out. p.54
Nancy is asked by her friend Helen Corning to investigate some mysterious goings on at her aunts' house.  Between the ghostly hauntings and the disappearance of Nancy's father, she certainly has her hands full with this mystery.  But Nancy handles with her usual style and poise.

The Bungalow Mystery (Nancy Drew Mystery Stories 3)
Chuckling to herself, Nancy said aloud, "Romance and detective work won't mix tonight!"
Nancy Drew and her friend Helen are out sailing on a lake when a storm comes up.  Luckily they are rescued by a girl who, of course, has a mystery.  Her mother has died and she is going to live with her new guardians who she has never meet.  But the guardians seem untrustworthy and only interested in the girl's jewels.  Plus Nancy is asked by her father to help investigate a bank robbery!  How will Nancy solve these mysteries?  Like she always does, with courage, determination and more than a little sleuthing.


  1. Great Reviews!
    I'm not sure if I would ever read the books. But I thought the movie was good!

  2. I never really got into Nancy Drew but my daughter went through a phase where she read almost all of them! (she reads MORE than me!)

  3. LOL
    Updated and yet the language is still.... well, verging on archaic. :D

    I'm enjoying the challenge though! I picked Secret of the Old Clock for my book club in February. Some of them have never read a Nancy Drew before.

  4. Oh, and I realized I own 2-3 more of the yellow cover ones! I had them in two separate places...

    Apparently I need to reorganize the books again....

  5. I loved Nancy Drew and read the whole series when I was a kid. My younger son discovered the Hardy Boys a few years ago and loves those books, plus the old Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys Tv show which we have on DVD.

    Nancy Drew has been updated even more...there are now all sorts of modern spin-off series, for all reading levels, starting with beginner readers on up to the classic Nancy in all-new adventures. My little niece likes Nancy Drew now!


  6. Nancy Drew was the first series that I had to read everything of. She's part of the reason why I became such an avid reader. Great reviews!


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