The Secret of the Old Clock (Nancy Drew Mystery Stories #1)
By: Carolyn Keene
Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap
When I stumbled upon the news that Grosset & Dunlap was re-issuing the first four Nancy Drew novels with absolutely gorgeous new artwork, deliciously evocative of the teenage sleuth's 1930s origins, I couldn't resist the temptation to revisit this childhood favorite to see if her charm has stood the test of time. And happily, she does. From the opening chapter, which finds Nancy driving her beloved blue convertible (I seriously mourn the transformation of roadster to convertible, though I suppose that update was inevitable), saving a child's life, and hearing the first rumors of the fabulously wealthy Josiah Crowley's lost will, I was once again hooked and within these pages transported to River Heights and the side of a friendly, unassuming girl with a knack for crime-solving and a passion for justice.
Growing up, I remember Nancy Drew being one of the first heroines I desperately wanted to be -- not only was her life one never-ending series of adventures, but she was pretty, capable, and above all wickedly smart. And her dreamy boyfriend Ned didn't hurt, either. *wink* However, within the pages of The Secret of the Old Clock we've yet to meet Ned, or Nancy's stalwart chums Bess and George. This novel sets the tone of Nancy's adventures by introducing her charmed life as the beloved daughter of lawyer Carson Drew, who always managed to balance his parental concern for Nancy's safety with a remarkable latitude and encouragement for her unorthodox passion and independent streak, and beloved housekeeper Hannah, who I always rather imagined to be the female version of Alfred from the Batman mythology. :)
While these books may be formulaic, I can't really complain as The Secret of the Old Clock is arguably something of a gold standard for this type of fiction. Nancy is smart, capable, and passionate about helping those less fortunate than herself, all admirable traits that have helped this perpetually youthful sleuth endure for over eight decades. With crisp, clear prose, a nicely-plotted mystery, and loads of atmosphere, Nancy's first mystery is every bit the charming page-turner now as when I first discovered it over twenty (gulp!) years ago. However, with the benefit of adulthood and the knowledge the internet has provided about the series, I think I perhaps appreciate the longevity of these stories even more. When I was a kid, before I learned that Carolyn Keene was a pseudonym, I thought she was a GENIUS -- now, I appreciate what it took to craft and perfect this winning formula even more. Long live Nancy!
About the book:
A special treat for Nancy Drew fans, and any reader who's new to the series! We're releasing a stunning new edition of an old favorite: The Secret of the Old Clock, the first book in the incredibly popular, long-running series. It's the same exciting mystery that readers have fallen in love with for more than 80 years—Nancy Drew has to help Mr. Crowly's friends find his missing will, before the evil Topham family steals his full inheritance. Now with a brand-new look, this is an edition that collectors won't want to miss!
And now, a brief history of The Secret of the Old Clock covers! Because HELLO, they are ALL AWESOME.