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Nancy Drew Mystery Stories #1

The Secret of the Old Clock

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Nancy, unaided, seeks to find a missing will. To the surprise of many, the Topham family will inherit wealthy Josiah Crowley's fortune, instead of deserving relatives and friends who were promised inheritances. Nancy determines that a clue to a second will might be found in an old clock Mr. Crowley had owned and she seeks to find the timepiece. Her search not only tests her keen mind, but also leads her into a thrilling adventure.

210 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 1930

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About the author

Carolyn Keene

1,354 books3,198 followers
Carolyn Keene is a writer pen name that was used by many different people- both men and women- over the years. The company that was the creator of the Nancy Drew series, the Stratemeyer Syndicate, hired a variety of writers. For Nancy Drew, the writers used the pseudonym Carolyn Keene to assure anonymity of the creator.

Edna and Harriet Stratemeyer inherited the company from their father Edward Stratemeyer. Edna contributed 10 plot outlines before passing the reins to her sister Harriet. It was Mildred Benson (aka: Mildred A. Wirt), who breathed such a feisty spirit into Nancy's character. Mildred wrote 23 of the original 30 Nancy Drew Mystery Stories®, including the first three. It was her characterization that helped make Nancy an instant hit. The Stratemeyer Syndicate's devotion to the series over the years under the reins of Harriet Stratemeyer Adams helped to keep the series alive and on store shelves for each succeeding generation of girls and boys. In 1959, Harriet, along with several writers, began a 25-year project to revise the earlier Carolyn Keene novels. The Nancy Drew books were condensed, racial stereotypes were removed, and the language was updated. In a few cases, outdated plots were completely rewritten.

Other writers of Nancy Drew volumes include Harriet herself, she wrote most of the series after Mildred quit writing for the Syndicate and in 1959 began a revision of the first 34 texts. The role of the writer of "Carolyn Keene" passed temporarily to Walter Karig who wrote three novels during the Great Depression. Also contributing to Nancy Drew's prolific existence were Leslie McFarlane, James Duncan Lawrence, Nancy Axelrod, Priscilla Doll, Charles Strong, Alma Sasse, Wilhelmina Rankin, George Waller Jr., and Margaret Scherf.

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5 stars
26,977 (35%)
4 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,330 reviews
Profile Image for Michael Finocchiaro.
Author 3 books5,532 followers
February 21, 2017
"I love Nancy Drew! She is so cool," said my 7 year old daughter. I had"ve read the first 10 Hardy Boys books to my son ("one more chapter before going to bed PLEEEEASE papa!!") and figured I needed to let my daughter get in on the fun. Of course, my son said, "The Hardy Boys are better!" but who was on the couch listening in while pretending to ignore my daughter and I? Yep.
The first book of the Nancy Drew series is the story of a lost will that Nancy is helping the disowned and impoverished friends ("Allison sings so beautifully and little Judy is so cute," again my daughter) and family of now-dead Josiah find before the rich and spoiled Topham's (including the condescending Ada and Isabel both of Nancy's age) recuperate the whole massive estate of -gasp!- $100000 (boy, the times have changed since the 50s!!). It is very girl-positive and Nancy is a great role model in being brilliant and beautiful (ok, another blonde but that too helps undermine the stereotype of the "dumb blonde" doesn't it?)
A pure delight!
Profile Image for Alejandro.
1,125 reviews3,551 followers
August 23, 2016
The Girl Detective begins!

This is the very first book, introducing the popular character of Nancy Drew. This edition is the revised one, changing the age of Nancy Drew from 16 to 18 years old. (But since in later series, her age is changed back to 16, that’s an irrelevant modification.


Nancy Drew is the only daughter of Carson Drew, prestigious lawyer of the town of River Heights (a fictional town, by the way). Her mother died when Nancy was 3 years old (original edition stated that she was 10 years old) (and no, it wasn’t a bloody mugging in a dark alley where Nancy was witness of the killing and swore revenge against criminals, nope, nothing of the sort that dramatic, but due an illness).

She’s not exactly rich, but it’s obvious that she isn’t in need of a steady day job, since she only do some minor errands for her dad’s legal office. She has her own car (that definitely it’s essential to be able to travel fast during the cases).

She is a kind person, trying to help anybody in need, willing to do anything even risking her physical safety. She is a social person who is liked by everybody (and if not, it’s pretty obvious that those are some varmints, up to something not good).

She is clever, tireless and daring.

Beware villains! Here comes Nancy Drew!


This first book in the series has the title of The Secret of the Old Clock.

It’s not a misleading title, quite the opposite, it’s a too spoiling one.

Since the case is about finding a will that nobody know where it could be, sooooo��

…you don’t have to be goshdang Batman to figure out since quite early in the reading, that in the very moment that a clock would appear in scene, hey, hey, hey, you’ll be hot!

In my humble opinion, I’d think that a better title could be “Nancy Drew and the Missing Will” (yes, I know, Harry Potter is my veins, I can’t help it!) so in that way, you’d be as clueless as Nancy when the mystery is just beginning.


While the reading style is quite engaging and the rhythm of the story is really good.

Well, I was kinda disappointed that Nancy Drew didn’t face a challenge to show her deductive skills or needing to solve a riddle.

I won’t spoil you (don’t worry the book’s title already do that), since I won’t get into details…

…I’ll just say that asking the same question to all available characters in the novel…

…you eventually will solve the case. Geez.

However, still Nancy will need to face some villains (things couldn’t be that easy, fellows!).

And what I liked was that she isn’t suddenly “Kung-Fu Nancy” handing out Kapows all around, but she deals with the menaces according to her status quo of a young girl, in her very first amateur detective case, which never has dealt with real criminals, so far, in her previous easy life.

So, while I can’t deny that I’d enjoy a more challenging mystery, still it was a fine reading experience and I plan to read more Nancy Drew’s mysteries in the future.

The chase for clues is just beginning!

Profile Image for Brina.
897 reviews4 followers
February 28, 2018
My February month of reading mysteries is finally ending. I am excited for March as I have previously mentioned, a little too excited. To end an otherwise dreary and depressing month on a positive note, I decided to squeeze in one more mystery, this one a buddy read. This was no ordinary buddy read in a group, but one with my seven year old daughter. She is in first grade and is reading with ease. Lately she has enjoyed the newer, and probably easy for her, Nancy Drew Notebooks Mysteries. I decided to both challenge her and expose her to the original series, and offered to read the original mysteries with her. We happen to own a copy of The Secret of the Old Clock, and I checked out a second copy of this classic from the library so we could read Nancy Drew's debut case together.

Did you know that Nancy Drew has solved over 500 cases in her career? That is a lot of mysteries. Secret of the Old Clock takes readers back over eighty years ago to where it all began for Nancy in River Heights, a fictional town that is supposed to resemble Iowa City, Iowa. Nancy has finished with high school and still lives in the home of her widower father Carson Drew, a prominent River Heights lawyer. It is summer vacation, and while Nancy is ready to begin the next chapter of her life, a mystery happens to fall into her lap. Josiah Crowley has passed away and unless a recent will turns up, his entire estate will fall into the hands of the greedy Topham family of River Heights. Not only are the Tophams well to do, but they are also snobby and view Nancy Drew and her kind as a pest. Yet, word is that Josiah Crowley wrote a second will, and Nancy is determined to find it. She has been solving mysteries with her father in his office for her entire life, and now she is ready to solve a case on her own.

Along the way, Nancy meets the Turners, the Hoovers, the Mathews, and Mrs Rowen, all of whom stand to benefit if Crowley's second will turns up. One notes immediately that these relations of Mr. Crowley's deserve the money more so than the Crowleys, and hope beyond hope that Nancy pieces together enough clues to uncover the missing document. Other than the Tophams and a band of robbers, the rest of the characters all assisted Nancy in her quest or were otherwise sympathetic. Unlike mysteries and thrillers geared toward adult audiences, there was little intrigue for me as I knew that in the end, Nancy Drew would come out on top. The prose was dated, yet refreshing to read, and I enjoyed turning back the clock to this wholesome book that is still a guessing game for children as to whodunit. My daughter enjoyed reading about Nancy as well, and she has already checked out her next few cases from the library.

February is over, woohoo! Where to now? March is Women's History Month and I have a diverse lineup plan, including two historical mysteries and one buddy read. I enjoy reading about women and cultures from around the world so this isn't much of a stretch for me, but exciting nonetheless. In the meantime, my daughter is getting hooked on mysteries herself and wants to continue with the Nancy Drew series. I am glad that I used my February month of reading mysteries to expose her to this classic series. We both enjoyed the bonding time reading it, and I am sure there will be more Nancy Drew buddy reads in both of our future.

4 bright stars
Profile Image for Sheri.
1,120 reviews52 followers
March 17, 2021
A solid start to the series that got me started on not only mysteries, but also series reads. Nancy Drew embodies everything a girl hopes to be: smart, athletic, ingenious, brave, friendly, fun, pretty, adventurous ... well, I could go on and on, but you get the picture! I love trying to solve the mystery along with Nancy, although it is easier now as an adult and after I have already read it before! Recommended to children as a suspenseful, action-packed mystery that they can work to solve alongside Nancy. Recommended to adults for an easy, nostalgic mystery read.
Profile Image for Mary Beth .
381 reviews1,645 followers
May 25, 2016
This was a reread for me and goes back to my childhood. I use to love this series and have decided to reread this series. It reminds me so much of my Grandma who always came over to visit me with a new Nancy Drew book and I was always so excited to read it. I had to give it 5 stars because this is the mystery series that actually gave me the love of reading. If I never of picked this book up I might not of ever of got into reading, which would of been very sad, because reading is just so much fun for me.

In this book you have Nancy Drew who follows into her Dads footsteps and becomes a sleuth into a mystery of a Will that happened to be a mystery and Nancy has to find the new will before it is too late.

I never have reread this series but I am happy that I finally plunged into them because all of the childhood memories came back to me. I even remembered in one part of the story what happened because it meant so much as a child to me and remembered my first reading experience. Overall I think this is an excellent book and starts out the series very well! I can't wait to read the next one to remind me more of my childhood memories!
Profile Image for Linda Wells.
Author 3 books353 followers
February 23, 2023
THE SECRET OF THE OLD CLOCK by Carolyn Keene (Pen Name) is the first book of the Nancy Drew series. The story is "wholesomely" exciting, and the Nancy Drew character is a great role model for all young girls. She is a smart, compassionate super sleuth, and I enjoyed re-reading my very first mystery story. In later books, Nancy gains a boyfriend, Ned Nickerson, and along with the help of her good friends, cousins Bess and George, Nancy solves many mysteries. My enjoyment of mysteries started with The Secret of the Old Clock, and my interest in reading and writing mysteries and romance thrillers continues.
Profile Image for Heidi.
1,211 reviews133 followers
August 29, 2022
One of the first books I read— Nancy Drew inspired me to read more mysteries and what followed is a life long love of detective stories.

For that alone, this young girl detective beloved by boomers and Gen X alike, deserves all the stars.
Profile Image for Jessica.
593 reviews3,382 followers
July 3, 2008
I see this edition is actually a postcard book, but I wanted to review The Secret of the Old Clock with its proper cover.

This was the first chapter book I ever read. I have a very clear memory of my mom giving it to me in the car on the way back from Palo Alto, which can't possibly be correct because she wouldn't have handed me a book while driving on the freeway. Maybe she gave it to me before we started driving, and I was reading it in the car? It's kind of a mystery.

Anyway, these books taught me how to read. Up until that point, I remember my mom being a bit pushy (or so it seemed to me) giving me books all the time, but as soon as I read this, the first tale of intrepid, strawberry-blonde sleuth Nancy and her friends Stupid Bess and George the Lesbian, I basically became a little drug addict. My substance of choice was these glorious yellow-spined anachronisms, which I sat around my basement bedroom devouring, to the detriment of socialization, math homework, and other important developmental activitives.

I have a personal theory about learning to read, based only in my own experience and nothing else, which is that formulaic, redundant series books play a huge role in mastering this skill. Really little kids love to "read" books they're memorized from hearing them, and I think there's a similar process in slightly older kids who've learned to read words but not to enjoy them. Series like the Nancy Drew books are great, because they all begin exactly the same, and skimming through that familiar formula makes the kid feel smart, safe, on top of things, and eager to push forward through a plot which seems both highly suspenseful and completely predictable. I was lucky enough to read some really fabulous children's literature in my day, but honestly, it wasn't the Newberry Award winners that taught me the habit: it was books written on assembly lines, in committee, by ghosts, or however it is that they produced these things (see Sweet Valley High).

That said, I'm not trying to take away any glory from Nancy Drew, girl detective. She was always so clever and brave and determined! I hope girls still read these books, and I hope one day to hand my own daughter The Secret of the Old Clock, though probably not on the freeway.
Profile Image for Ginger.
752 reviews370 followers
October 26, 2019
3.5 stars

This was fun to revisit! I read the whole Nancy Drew series as a kid and reading this again brought lots of great memories back.

The Secret of the Old Clock is the definition of a cozy mystery and likely started the trend in the first place. It was really enjoyable to read again!

I hope to continue reading this series off and on over the next few years. It's nostalgic to revisit books that you've read as a child.
Profile Image for Juli.
1,879 reviews474 followers
July 3, 2019
Although Trixie Belden was my favorite teen sleuth, I also enjoyed Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys mysteries growing up. I think I liked Trixie better as she was closer to my age and more of a tom boy/country girl like I was. I devoured books from all three series as fast as I could get my hands on them, so the differences in characters didn't hamper my enjoyment of the mysteries.

I am making an effort to re-visit favorite series and authors. I've been re-reading the Trixie Belden books...so finally came calling at the Drew home as well. I did a bit of research on the series before starting the first book. Just like the Trixie series, Nancy Drew was written by various ghostwriters all under the pen-name Carolyn Keene. The first authors were paid $125 per book and were required to relinquish all claims to the books. The original four Nancy Drew books were first published in 1930 (actually written by Mildred Wirt Benson), but were re-written and updated in 1959 by Harriet Adams. I have never read the original version of this story, but have a copy of the re-worked book. With a bit of research, I learned what changes were made. The character was softened up a little and outdated stereotypes were removed (opinions about nouveau riche were removed, upper class views were toned down, bad depictions of "lower class" were removed, etc). Some changes were more fundamental -- more action and suspense was added into the plot, and the housekeeper was depicted as a valued member of the family rather than treated like a servant as in the original work. I think these changes kept the books in circulation through the decades, rather than them fading as the plots grew severely outdated (and even a bit offensive).

I listened to an unabridged audio book version of this story (Penguin Random House audio 2002). Narrated by Laura Linney, the audio is just over 3 hours long. Linney gives a great performance as usual. I always enjoy her narrations! The audio book also adds in some music and sound effects at suspenseful moments. :) Very enjoyable listening experience! I have hearing loss but was still able to hear and understand the entire book. I enjoyed listening to Nancy's case unfold as she searched for a missing will. Even though the book is short, the mystery is not rushed. There is plenty of action and interesting twists and turns. Great story! I enjoyed this re-visit just as much as I enjoyed reading Nancy's first mystery as a young teen back in the early 1980s.

I'm glad they re-wrote and updated these books. I don't think I would have liked Nancy if she was portrayed as an upper class, privileged snoot. I have 20+ matching hardback copies of this series on my keeper shelf that I found at a thriftshop for $1 per book. Best purchase ever! My copies are the older versions with no slipcover, 1950s artwork on the front, and the traditional yellow spine with a small picture of Nancy. I hope to find more to round out my collection. There are 35 books in the original series with 43 more added from 1959-1985. Then there are several more modern spin-off series as well. Lots of reading to do! I'm so curious to find out if the newer books are as good as the originals!

Revisiting this story also makes me want to find episodes of the old 1970s television show! I wonder if it is available online somewhere??

On to the next book -- The Hidden Staircase!
Profile Image for Stacia (the 2010 club).
1,045 reviews3,955 followers
January 30, 2013
So I was watching the BDSM episode of Our America, and this one chick said that she first discovered her fascination with being tied up when Nancy was being tied up by the bad guys...


Anyway, I loved this series as a child. I intend to revisit it someday. Nancy was my girl...and apparently these books are a gateway drug to a kinkier life.
Profile Image for Angela.
404 reviews102 followers
February 14, 2023
The Secret of the Old Clock (Nancy Drew Mystery Stories, #1) by Carolyn Keene

Synopsis /

Nancy, unaided, seeks to find a missing Will. To the surprise of many, the Topham family will inherit wealthy Josiah Crowley's fortune, instead of deserving relatives and friends who were promised inheritances. Nancy determines that a clue to a second will might be found in an old clock Mr. Crowley had owned and she seeks to find the timepiece. Her search not only tests her keen mind, but also leads her into a thrilling adventure.

My Thoughts /

In one of my challenges for the month of February, I needed to read a children's/YA book. And really, who says that this genre is saved for children only? As recently as last October, I read Runt by Aussie author, Craig Silvey; and apart from being aimed at young children/teens, it would have to be one of the sweetest most enjoyable stories doing the rounds. So I thought this was the perfect opportunity to re-live my own childhood memories of reading Nancy Drew (and the Hardy Boys too, of course!).

The Secret of the Old Clock is the first volume in the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories series written under the pseudonym, Carolyn Keene, and was first published on April 28, 1930. This was the first mystery in which Nancy Drew undertook to solve by herself.

Nancy Drew, an attractive blond, blue-eyed young girl of eighteen, lives with her father, Carson Drew, who is a well-known criminal defence lawyer. The Drew family reside in River Heights with their housekeeper, Hannah Gruen; who is more than just a housekeeper, she is regarded by the Drews as another member of their family.

In this story, our amateur sleuth, Nancy, agrees to track down a missing Will of a deceased man who, before he died, was living with a most disagreeable well-to-do-family ('erm meet the Tophams). The Tophams, described as 'snobbish nouveau-riche social-climbing heirs'; had been looking after the now deceased man, Josiah Crowley for the last few years, with the intention that his estate will be passed onto them after his death. This was written in Josiah's Last Will and Testament. But as Nancy discovers, close friends and family members of old Mr Crowley are adamant there was another Will. A newer Will that states Mr Crowley's vast estate was to be left in various proportions to each of them. During her investigations, Nancy learns that Josiah Crowley had hinted that a clue to his Will could be found hidden in the old family clock. Nancy eventually locates the clock in the Tophams' vacation cabin. But does it contain the clue she's looking for?

Nancy finds Josiah’s old journal inside the old clock. In it he writes that he has hidden his Will in a safe-deposit box. Nancy enlists the help of her father to gain access to the safe deposit box to see if it does in fact contain Josiah's Will.

Nancy is a remarkably clever young woman. Her quick thinking and intuition are what help her get to the bottom of this mystery.

While there 'appear' to be major plot holes in the story - for example, how is it that Nancy just happens to stumble upon the right individuals at just the right time seems all too convenient. It is important to reflect however, that this was a book first published in 1930 and was aimed firmly at the sights of young readers. The plot moves at a brisk pace and the writing, although true to the era, reading today, is endearingly quirky.

Jeff Tucker seemed embarrassed as he began to speak. “I was plain hornswoggled by those critters, Miss Drew.

In Miss Drew's world, heroes aren’t perfect but are ultimately good, moral people who strive to do the right thing and go out of their way to help others, even if there’s no reward in it for themselves; and I'm all for that.
Profile Image for Adita ✨The Slumbering Insomniac✨.
134 reviews259 followers
February 10, 2016
What if goodreads doesn't adhere to half-stars rating system? We have always the option of providing us with one ourselves, don't we?

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️- roughly the equivalent of 4.5 stars, but still remains higher than 5? Serves my propensity for loose rating very well!

We now know what 18 year old girls of yore, who didn't live their lives at the rate of 20 texts per minute, 50 cuss words per hour, 30 books per month, were doing when they had nothing important to do- driving around the town in their convertibles solving mysteries and helping people in dire straits!

NANCY DREW , for example!

Why, you stole my pencil!

Why, you ate my share of the pumpkin-pie!

Why, you are home early!

If that was the popular cry of surprise you grew up hearing everyday, then you probably lived in a household where Nancy Drew was a permanent occupant- either you were the one smitten by the young sleuth or you spent several hours of the day wondering how your sister could be so engrossed in a girl who didn't have half the fan base that Sherlock Holmes commended. Either way, you know 'Why' was the most preferred way of beginning a sentence, if someone sneaked up on you or appropriated some thingummy that was rightfully yours, thanks to Carolyn Keene!


Nancy Drew's is a family of three-
▶️ Carson Drew, Nancy's lawyer-father, without whose help, Nancy's endeavours will go up in smoke and her detective dreams will remain plain will o' the wisp.
▶️ Hannah Gruen, the affable housekeeper, who has come to take the place of Nancy's second mother(her own mother passed away when she was still young) and always pays attention to the littlest of things that Nancy has to say.

The Secret Of The Old Clock is Nancy's debut detective work and it has Nancy chasing the will made by the rich old man, Josiah Crowley, whose possessions were forcibly bequeathed to the churlish Tophams. In a bid to help the deserving Hoovers and Turners and Williams, Nancy tries to recover the elusive later will from the Tophams, which might benefit the abovesaid families immensely. And, in the process, she runs into a couple of burly thieves and comes close to a life-threatening situation.



❎ You will find the insipid monologues very off-putting. You'll never see the end of
“I was almost certain I’d find the notebook,” she murmured in disappointment. But a moment later she took heart again. “It must be here somewhere,” she told herself.”
kind of sentences and I will attribute it to the lack of a sidekick. Nancy could certainly have afforded to have a lackey or a lover boy in her tow wouldn't have been bad either. I am sure that we will get to see Nancy's partner-in-uncrime in the subsequent books.

❎ Carolyn Keene is the executor who plays Nancy like a fiddle. And, in the game, when Nancy hits a stumbling block, the author comes up with an ironical clue which is the answer itself- imagine the scenario in which you play 'seek the object' with a kid and tell him to look behind the door and leave the object itself in that place instead of the clue. (Stop complaining, this book is intended for kids.)



✅ Nancy Drew.
✅ Nancy Drew.
✅ Nancy Drew.
Don't give me that look. That girl is the height of awesomeness, you know?


✔️ Nancy Drew is the kind of book that tells you "get off your ass and make yourself useful" rather than "stick your ass on the couch and read all day". It sends your adrenal rather than amygdala into overdrive. (You are locked up in a cupboard and left to suffocate, your launch goes kaput in the middle of the lake and you are left to starve and you survive all of this- enough derring-do for people to call you an adrenaline junky!)


✔️ Nancy Drew is what you are looking for when you want respite from the saturnine, cynical and sardonic Holmes or Poirot and want a breezy, lighthearted and lilliputian alternative to the blood and gore that comes with the high profile sleuthing typical of Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie and the like!

Ergo, if you are looking to re-live your childhood well spent or make amends for all the time lost in everything but Nancy Drew, now is the time! Get in the backseat of Nancy's blue convertible and set out for an adventure-filled ride!
Profile Image for Prabhjot Kaur.
1,046 reviews148 followers
December 24, 2020
I love Nancy Drew and her adventures and her mysteries. Nancy Drew books were my first introduction to the mystery genre and even though I haven't read a lot of mysteries since then, I do have a special place in my heart for these books.

Nancy Drew is on vacation and when she learns of a missing will, what better to do with her time than solve this mystery. Nancy meets various people in relation to the will and gathers information. Piece by piece, she solves the mystery which I had no doubt about.

The writing kept me hooked and even though it was predictable for the most part, I enjoyed reading this anyway. Nancy Drew is a great character. She is smart, she is witty, she is brave, she is pretty and she reads like a good role model. A great first read in this series.

4 stars
Profile Image for Cheryl.
Author 35 books334 followers
September 9, 2007
I think Nancy drew was the beginning of the end for me. Her adventures and the mysteries that she solved made me yearn to solve my own. This made me inquisitive, leading to a job as a journalist at 14. It also made me want to write.

And here I am...just a few years later (Ok, more than a few), and I'm a writer of suspense, mysteries and thrillers! :) Go figure.

I recommend this book for pre-teens and young teens. It's a great escape. And for women who want to remember a piece of their youth, pick it up and read it now. :)

Cheryl Kaye Tardif
Profile Image for Brad.
Author 2 books1,688 followers
January 13, 2015
I broke with our usual pattern around these parts and decided to read some Nancy Drew before Brontë took it on. She had three books she was trying to choose from at the beginning of the month: The Dog Who Wouldn't Be, Stardust and The Secret of the Old Clock. She said she needed "a break" from longer books after having read Murder on the Orient Express and Poison Study, so she picked the Farley Mowat. She tossed Nancy Drew aside, and I decided to pick it up.

I am so glad I did because I love a good surprise. I expected it to be okay. I expected Nancy Drew to be about as good as an old Hardy Boys but no better. I expected it to be annoyingly sexist by way of its period, boringly simplistic, and a great way to fall asleep. All of my expectations were wrong.

It was better than the Hardy Boys, by a long shot. Carolyn Keene is a solid writer. She's no Charlotte or Emily or Virginia or Jane or Margaret, but she is solid, and she has a gift for simplicity that is both clean and concise. Reading her prose was a pleasure, and there was nothing boring. Instead of falling asleep, I found myself staying up later than I had planned to get to the finish. My most pleasant surprise, however, was what an excellent woman (girl, I suppose) Nancy Drew is. Capable, whip smart, brave without being foolhardy, strong -- both ethically and physically, loyal, caring, attractive -- mentally and physically, and driven, Nancy Drew is someone I can see countless woman aspiring to be like. Better yet, she is recognized as all of these things by nearly everyone (but her enemies) who she comes in contact with over the course of the book, and there isn't a hint of anyone patronizing her: not her father, not the cops, not the people she saves with her investigation. People respect her, and that is that.

I hope that Brontë picks this up next time she needs a break from long books. I can't wait to talk to her about Nancy Drew. I hope she likes her as much as I did.

p.s. Please keep in mind that I have only ever read this one, first book. If she changes later, or the way she is portrayed changes later, I haven't been in contact with that yet. But I sure dig her this first time out.
Profile Image for Jason Koivu.
Author 7 books1,225 followers
March 8, 2022
Clearly this book was not written for me, a 47-year-old grump, but I read it anyway, because Nancy Drew is iconic. I read a few Hardy Boys books as a kid and it dawned on me that I'd never read a Nancy Drew, so I figured I ought to rectify that. If you were a young girl when these books originally came out in the 1930s, and even decades after, Drew would have seemed incredibly brave and intelligent, and made for an obvious role model. For that, these books should be praised.
Profile Image for Charles  van Buren.
1,709 reviews178 followers
September 7, 2019
Review by Catherine, grade 5. Try to find the original 1930 edition instead of the1959 one. I don't like the 1959 Nancy as much as the original. But the mystery was still good. The bad girls were really nasty.
56 reviews
March 21, 2012
My first impression of this book, AKA the first sentence completely and totally put me off. I don't know what kind of person Carolyn Keene was, but i would not like to be her friend. Firstly, she writes like a snob. For example "Nancy Drew, a good-looking girl..." Ooookaaay...is that important to the story? Then another part..."she goes shopping in River Heights finest store"....oooookaaaay..."She pulls up in her blue convertible to her big mansion with two garages"...fine! ^_^ We get the point. She's rich and popular, blonde and beautiful. This was completely irrelevant to the whole mystery which was predictable, and you pretty much knew exactly what would happen at the end from reading the first 3 chapters. I am NEVER reading another Carolyn Keene again!!! Never have I been more revolted or appalled from the writing in this book...I actually HATED it...and i never hate books...but this is the first exception...
Profile Image for Katie.
Author 5 books35.1k followers
July 22, 2016
This is the first time I've read Nancy Drew since I was about seven, and imagine my delight when she turned out to be absolutely out of her mind bonkers. She's always mulling over fresh tire tracks and sparkling her eyes at her own father while wearing an attractive linen suit. I love her. The only things missing for me were Bess and her extra five pounds.
Profile Image for Chantel.
365 reviews156 followers
January 5, 2023
Nancy Drew is 18 years old, drives her own blue convertible, & helps her father in his distinguished law office as something of a glamorized courier. In all, Nancy is living a life many would fancy; enjoying all the luxuries of a bourgeoisie lifestyle with little of the proletariat humdrum to bog down her carefree existence. However, what has possibly set Nancy apart from many of her kind is her intention. Though she has all the wonders that life has to offer, Nancy cares about the well-being of others, to the point of becoming involved in a genteel game of question & answer that leads her to an old clock—as hinted in the title—that holds the secret documents that promise money to a large number of impoverished, kindly folk.

I first read this book when I was very young & most, unfortunately, it impressed nothing on me. I remember understanding that the book I was holding in my hands had changed the lives of many young people & led them to become great readers. Fortunately for myself, I was already a very voracious reader & so felt no love lost for the lack of utter life-changing enjoyment from reading this book. As an adult, my sentiments remain the same as those I felt all those years ago. This is certainly a book with a story & it is certainly a story that takes place in the 1930s United States. However, this was not my kind of story.

It was with the hope of being overwhelmed with fondness that I chose to read this book again. This is not to say that I hated the book the first time around but, I had read better. This is also not to knock everything that came of the young detectives’ first case. While reading this story I can definitely appreciate everything that it influenced & how as a young reader, through many generations, the story of Nancy’s chivalrous quest to see right done upon the secondary characters led her to be a person many adored. For that reason, I too feel thankful that someone like Nancy Drew exists in the fictional universe of detective novels for, we are always better off when we have good people in our corner.

My primary reason for not truly enjoying this book was due to the way it was written. That is to say, nothing really happens. Nancy is a sweet person & she floats through life wanting to be as good a person as her reputation states that she is—a trait I admire in her character. However, once she learns that the death of a fellow townsman has caused many people to be left without their just desserts, she takes it upon herself to aid them. With this in mind, the author has seen fit to litter the book with flowery descriptions of Nancy’s life, which I found quaint in a funny type of way. Did we need a scene wherein Nancy wanders a dress shop or lunches with yet another wealthy pair? I cannot say.

These scenes certainly set the tone for the novel & with her delicate luncheon schedule & time to embark on badminton games with young Judy, Nancy is miraculously able to repair a boat engine, & trick the antagonists into spending asinine amounts of money on a country dance, track down domicile thieves & solve the mystery of the second will, all while keeping her dignity in check. What caused me to find this whole series of events wonderful in an absurd sense was that the author never explains to the reader how Nancy accomplishes these things. Where did Nancy learn to repair a boat engine?

I am not naive to think that this is a book that was written with the intent to check all the boxes of logic, however, I think including a few more specific details would have added depth to the main character & thus made her the great mastermind behind the wild goose chases that saw her zooming down a country road after thieves who almost ran over a child in their urgency to depart the premises. There was so much more I wanted to know about Nancy, I really wanted this first book to give me an intimate understanding of who she was & how she fit so seamlessly within this plot.

Perhaps it is because this book is quite dated but, I began to lose track of how many people had been promised money from the passing of the singular wealthy man. There were relatives & friends, neighbours & distinguished helpers, who had all been promised huge sums of money for their kindness. Again, I appreciate that this book was written during another period of time yet, I must say that the reasons for which everyone was promised money were a bit odd. Every time someone did right by Josiah, he made sure to promise them money in his final will & testament. By the end of the book, I regarded everyone, even the antagonists, as being in the same boat. Though certainly the Topham’s went out of their way to seclude Josiah, everyone was waiting for their cut of the money for their acts of kindness.

What is it, specifically, about Nancy that made her able to solve this mystery? Was it luck or was it the conveniently placed luncheon conversations her father allowed her to be privy to with members of the local legal body? Being as this is a book with very young readers as the target audience, I am not surprised that the author left out some of the more interesting aspects that might have been tedious to read for certain people. Regardless, the freedom of self that Nancy experienced in the 1930s is something I wanted to know about—what lead her father to be so liberal with his daughter’s upbringing?

I will certainly read the second book in the series & though I have heard briefly about the change of tone the series undertakes as other authors offer their pen to the name signed on this book, I am sufficiently intrigued to wonder, enough to want to read more.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jess.
504 reviews118 followers
November 23, 2017
I'm slowly making my way through reading the original text Nancy Drew books. My childhood was filled with the yellow, matte revised texts. I'm discovering a different accounting of the stories that so entertained me and filled me with curiosity. When I review these, I will just jot down my surprises or thoughts.


-She's sixteen in this book and blonde bobbed. (not the titian haired sleuth in the later books!)
-Nancy's conversation with Jeff Tucker. Not at all politically correct and also surprising that it is included he is drunk as they are conversing. I was struck by his likening his automobile ride to being like a chariot wafting towards heaven. Not a sentence I expected to read in a Nancy Drew book.
-pg. 26 has a lovely quote about Nancy driving and having "Middle West" pride. Again, so whimsical and unexpected in the book.
-how the book flows and the description of every day occurrences in the 1930's, made me feel like I was in that time period. I loved every minute of it.
-I want to research the make of the Crowley clock... I want one now.
Profile Image for Kavita.
760 reviews370 followers
January 29, 2020
This is Nancy's very first mystery in which she searches for a missing will. Joshua Crowley has been dead for a few months and when Nancy comes across several people telling her that he had promised to remember them in his will, but didn't, she gets curious. Determined to find the will, especially because it benefited a rich local family that Nancy didn't like, she sets out on her first adventure.

There is a bit of class discrimination in this book towards the nouveau riche family, who annoyed Nancy by trying too hard to fit into the rich and snobby lifestyle. Nancy's character is set right away, though Bess and George don't make an appearance. Helen Corning does, even though she disappears for most of the series and only pops up occasionally, like in The Bungalow Mystery as a married woman.

Originally, the Stratemeyer Syndicate only produced the Hardy Boys. When suggested that they do something similar for girls, there was a lot of scepticism. But eventually, they did come out with The Secret of the Old Clock, which became a huge hit, and Nancy Drew was born, thrilling generations of young girls and giving them the idea that a woman can do anything she wants. And of course, for those not in the know, Carolyn Keene doesn't exist. The series has been written by different authors over the years.

I think this was quite a good beginning to the series.
Profile Image for Daniel.
753 reviews72 followers
August 22, 2016
Sta reci sem... naivno? Zastarelo? Mada opet ima neki svoj sarm, narocito oko glavnog lika koji predstavlja, za ono vreme nesto dosta originalno, mladu damu koja se bavi poslom koji nije tolko pozeljan za mlade dame.

Prica kao prica je dosta jednostavna, likovi su ili crni ili beli bez neke posebne dubine ali sve je nekako pisano dosta nevinim glasom sto me onemogucava da budem suvise kritican ka ovoj knjizi.

Jeina stvarno svetla tacka jeste sama Nancy koja je prikazana kao vrlo pozitivna osoba sa jakim osecajem za pravdom, odredjenom dozom hrabrosti i zeljom da se pomogne onima koji su slabiji ili u losoj situaciji i to sve bez neke zelje za nagradom ili posebnim statusom.

Probacu jos i sledecu pa ce mo videti.
Profile Image for Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore.
758 reviews170 followers
December 31, 2018
The very first Nancy Drew—this one has Nancy investigating and uncovering the secret of a lost will and in the process helping a number of deserving people. I love how sweet and charming the original series of books is (something I seem to always say—and which the newer series seem to lack). And this one has Nancy solving pretty much the entire mystery on her own (with a bit of her father’s help)—Bess, George, and Ned hadn’t appeared on the scene yet, there was only her friend Helen Corning who doesn’t really have much of a role in the investigation itself. Great fun!
Profile Image for Calista.
3,869 reviews31.2k followers
April 15, 2018
I remember being shocked at how boring this was. So little plot or mystery and really little happens. It is very innocent. I can't believe this became so popular. Maybe it's better as a kid; I read it as an adult. I read a few more to give it more of a chance.
Profile Image for Jessaka.
887 reviews120 followers
January 23, 2019
Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way

Journalist, Mildred Wirt had been hired to write this series that Edward Stratemeyer had created. He sent her an outline of the story, and in 4 weeks she had it finished and sent back to him. He accepted it as it was written even though he felt that it had taken too much time for her to get to the action in the story. He was so correct, as I was bored myself until more than half way into the book. (This information on Edward’s displeasure with the story can be found in the biography of Mildred Wirt, “Missing Millie Benson.”)

The Secret in the Old Clock was published in 1930 and was the first Nancy Drew book to hit the market, and this, during the Great Depression. It sold for only 50 cents, a price that many could still afford to pay. It became a great success and continues to be to this very day. (Missing Millie Benson)

Nancy Drew is a young sixteen year old blonde haired girl who wished to become a detective. I was sixteen years old when I first began reading this series, having first found “The Secret in the Old Attic” in my mom’s hallway closet where she kept her books.

Nancy’s mother had died when she was three years old, and she lives with her father, Carson Drew, who is a criminal and mystery case attorney. Her father’s sister, Hannah, also lives with them. Nancy has a friend named Helen who doesn’t become involved in this mastery with her, unlike her other friends in this series. And most importantly, Nancy has a blue roadster. Now a roadster would be fun to own.

In this first story, Old Man Crowley has died and left his estate to relatives that had never treated him kindly, relatives that no one in town really cared about and who believed that the estate had fallen into the wrong hands. But there is a talk of another will that Crowley had written at a later date. Where is it? And that is where Nancy begins her career as a young detective. “If there is a will,” she says, “there is a way,” to find the will.

Nancy had driven into the city to run an errand for her father, but on the way home she had taken the scenic route along River Road. Now that had to have been fun driving her blue roadster along the river’s road. But she also realized that a storm was brewing and hoped to get home before this happened because the road could get pretty muddy and dangerous. Alas, she was not to get home before the rain; instead she saw a farm house with a barn and quickly drove into the barn in order to get out of the rain. She was greeted by a couple of young girls who were related to Old Man Crowley and who were much more worthy of his inheritance, as she soon found out.

So, the story crawled on. Nancy began talking to other relatives and then one woman who cared for him when he was ill. Then she went to see the relatives that had inherited his estate, and this is where the story finally picked up, and I found that I couldn’t put the book down after that.

Note: Copyright 1930
Written by Mildred Wirt

January 23, 2019 My second reading and review of this book.

Profile Image for Kay.
220 reviews
June 20, 2015
I won't knock this too much as this was the series that made me a reader but dang, it's like a book version of Scooby Doo!
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