Monday, April 27, 2015

Nancy Drew's 85th Spotlight #21

In honor of the 85th anniversary of Nancy Drew, I'll be discussing the first 3 books this week, which were released on April 28, 1930, 85 years ago...

The Secret of the Old Clock

A musty closet, a missing will, singing lessons. Let's discuss.

Today we jump right in to classic Nancy Drew with a discussion of The Secret of the Old Clock. Have you read Old Clock lately? If not, I'd recommend reading the first volume in the series--where it all began. Published April 28, 1930, it set the tone for what would become one of the most popular and long running Stratemeyer Syndicate series.

A Few Fast Facts:

Ghostwriter: Mildred A. Wirt Benson

Outline Length: 3 1/2 pages

1st Cover Art Illustrated By: Russell H. Tandy

Synopsis from my website:

When the Topham family inherits all of Josiah Crowley's fortune, something isn't right about the whole affair. Josiah promised other friends and relatives that they would inherit. In Nancy's first case, she searches for a hidden will in order to help restore the inheritances to the rightful heirs. Being locked in a closet by robbers and a narrow escape with an old clock lead to Nancy solving this baffling mystery!

As a first book in the series, it has all the makings of a suspenseful mystery--cliffhangers, a missing will, a menacing band of robbers who lock Nancy in a closet, car chases, and even gunfire in the original version.

If you haven't read the original version, I'd recommend it. Not only is the characterization better, the scenery and setting more descriptive, but it has a real timeless quality to it. Not that the revision doesn't have that same timeless quality to a degree, but it is choppier and includes changes that aren't as interesting as the original version.

Original vs. Revised - 5 Interesting Clues:

1. The revised includes a (dare I say somewhat annoying) little girl named Judy being cared for by the Turner sisters who Nancy rescues at the book's beginning. Boring!

2. What a coincidence! Revised River Heights has a famous music teacher--Signor Mascagni.

3. In the revision, Jeff Tucker becomes a country bumpkin and kids everywhere ran to look up "hornswoggled" in their dictionaries.

4. We can't have villains engaged in a drinking orgy! In the revision, the only orgy was of the eatin' kind!

5. 1930s Nancy was much more bold, brash, and less likely to uphold the law.

3 Mysterious Things About Nancy:

1. We learn that Nancy has a few mechanical skills--she can change a flat tire and work over a boat's motor.

2. She has 2 enemies--The Topham Sisters (Ada and Isabel).

3. She's knowledgeable about many things--having studied Archimedes and psychology in school.

An Important Lesson We Learned From Nancy:

When sleuthing in isolated locations, be sure to tell someone where you're going in case you get locked in a closet and left to starve!

Sleuthworthy Rating On a Scale of 1-10:

6 - I could have used more suspense and more villain foibles, some of my favorite mystery devices. I preferred the original and could have done without the sub plots of singing lessons and the police dog and puppy cliffhanger. I liked the scenes around Moon Lake and the name "Black Horse Inn" lent an air of mystery.

What do you all think? Was it one of your favorites? Did you prefer either the original or the revised? As a first mystery in the series, how does it compare with later volumes?


Amanda said...

I prefer the 1930's original version as well. It's much more interesting, and the language flows better. In general, it's a much richer experience.

The 1930's version also has the best cover (my opinion, of course). Do you have a favorite cover? Were the covers created by the same individual even though the styles appear different?

Нэнси Дрю said...

and where you can read the original 1930?

Jennifer Fisher said...

Amanda - I like the Tandy version best - 1st art. Tandy did 1st art, Bill Gillies did 2nd art, Rudy Nappi did 3rd art. Here's a link to info about these artists:

Jennifer Fisher said...

You can read the originals by purchasing vintage books at eBay for instance--lots of places to find them. Collecting Nancy Drew tips and were to find here: