Tuesday, October 9, 2012

#8: Nancy's Mysterious Letter; original text

This little adventure starts out in rather a mundane way: Nancy and some neighbors are planning on giving a little gift and some cash to their favorite, elderly mailman (or in PC terms, postal worker >:p), for he is retiring. Ira Dixon has a perfect record, buuuut...when visiting at Nancy's place along with Bess, George proclaims: “I hope his record isn’t marred the last day or two.” How subtle, beause just a few minutes later, Ira comes by with Nancy’s mail, and Nancy invites him to stop for a tea and snack. Upon the invite he leaves the bag of mail on the front step. Can you see where this is going? Is the Pope Catholic? Nancy and Ira find themselves at the post office, and the Jesse Cutter, the head postman, understandably, is furious and goes a bit overboard in showing his rage, to Nancy’s disgust. After berating Ira and Nancy, detectives are sent in to speak to the two. When Nancy announces her name to the detectives, Jesse stares (he was so angry that he missed Nancy’s  name in the beginning) and immediately brings a more polite attitude. Because Nancy is the daughter of Carson Drew, lawyer extraordinaire! 

Nancy opens her letter, and finds that it is from an English law firm; addressed to "Nancy S. Drew" it reveals that this Nancy Drew has just fallen under a large inheritance. Nancy starts a search for the other Nancy Drew.

But that isn't all Nancy has to deal with—Mrs. Sheets, a neighbor from a quite less elegant street than the Drews live on, comes bustling in to scold Nancy for her foolishness and to tell her about how careless, lazy, self-entitled and “uppity” the “young folk” are, especially (it implies) once of Nancy’s class. Mrs. Sheets lost $10 in that sack of mail, which her sister-in-law sends weekly to supplement Mr. Joe Sheets's rather erratic income. Mrs. Sheets just won’t shut up and Hannah threatens to whack her with the broad side of a broom (yay, Hannah!) Mrs. Sheets calms down when Nancy can get a word in to say that she’ll give Mrs. Sheets the cash back on the spot. Mrs. Sheets then tells Nancy that she once met another Nancy Drew when she ran a boarding house in New York. This Nancy Drew was from England, and eventually became a governess. 

In short, in going to a football game that Ned is playing in, Nancy gets a lead on the Hutchinsons, a family that employed the other Nancy Drew as a governess, and this Nancy Drew is traced and given her inheritance. The Ira Dixon plot, which seems completely useless, is wrapped up fairly early, though the conclusion isn’t until the end; Ira’s brother, who is wrapped up in a shady money-making scheme, stole the pouch, though the reason is not clear, except for the sake of being malicious. What surprised me, however, was that Edgar, unlike other Nancy Drew felons, did not end up in jail, but jumped into a river to escape the police, and “was never seen again”. I actually liked this bit, because the “bad guy is arrested and brought to jail and all is happy” formula gets a little boring.

I know that this post may seem a little dry. Nancy's Mysterious Letter is well worth reading, but predictable.
  • When the detectives and Jesse Cutter realize who Nancy Drew is, they get all shocked and Jesse gasps, “You mean—THE Nancy Drew?” Because Carson Drew is the second coming of lawyers!
  • The truth of George’s actual name (which has been stated before, but this quote is especially amusing): “[George] was proud of her masculine name and dressed the part. Woe to the person who called her Georgette or even Georgie, let alone Georgiana or any other feminization of her real name!”]
  • Nancy goes shopping for a hat to wear to the Emerson college football game and yellow pumps to wear to the dance, and ‘Carolyn Keene’ assures us: “Nancy proved to be a real girl, in that buying good-looking clothes gave her a great thrill.” Crap. I was never a real girl in my youth, then, because buying good-looking clothes never (and still doesn’t) gave me a great thrill.
  • The Nancy Drew books always make me hungry—in this book, Nancy and her friends dine on various meals, such expertly grilled cheese sandwiches, pancakes and sausage, and roast duck with baked apples. Yum yum! Nancy likes her cheese sandwich with paprika—I’ll have to try that sometime.
  •  This book especially implies that the Drews are quite wealthy. Nancy and Carson have top-notch cars, Nancy gets a “generous clothing allowance” (which includes plenty of fancy clothing and a very pricy raccoon coat), and the near-impoverished Mrs. Sheets has a real grudge against Nancy for her privileged lifestyle.

Monday, September 24, 2012

#1: The Secret of the Old Clock: original text

Here it is, number one, numero uno, the beginning of the Nancy Drew legend. I thoroughly enjoyed both versions but I must say, the original introduction to our favorite sleuth is much more engrossing than the revised. So, onwards!
The story starts with Nancy and her father discussing a possible missing will of Josiah Crowley. They believe something is afoot, because Josiah left all his money to the Tophams, a family who took care of him for three years until he died. The Tophams were nasty to him, and it was thought that they only tolerated him for his money. But Carson and Nancy (and more than a few others) can't believe he didn't provide for other friends and relatives.

Later, Carson puts Nancy in charge of delivering super-important legal documents to a judge in town. The judge invites Nancy to "luncheon" (used as a verb) with him and his wife. I luncheon, you luncheon, he she, it luncheons... :). Nancy takes a scenic route home, but misjudges the weather and ends up stuck in pouring rain. She sees a barn by the road and drives into it. There, she is invited into the house by a girl about her age. Inside, Nancy meets the girl's sister. Grace and Allie Hoover are really trying to make do with what they have: a flock of egg laying hens, a vegetable garden and the occasional dressmaking order for Grace. Then Nancy comments on a beautiful picture hanging on the wall and--guess what--Allie says that "'Uncle Josiah" gave it to them, and that she is confused why he didn't provide for them when he died. Josiah wasn't really their uncle, but apparently cared for them very much and promised that he would help them out. Oh, and Uncle Josiah is Josiah Crowley. Surprise, surprise.

Nancy goes shopping to clear her mind of the case, and she happens to see Isabel and Ada Thopham. When Nancy was in school, they were very disliked, especially when they tried to blame Nancy for misbehavior in school at one time. Nothing has changed; the girls are still very spiteful. Ada accidentally breaks a vase and blames it on the "salesgirl". The manager is about to exonerate Ada from blame when Nancy steps in and is Hero of the Day. Later, Nancy is strolling in the park when she overhears the girls confidently assuming that there is no other will.

Nancy finds other relatives and friends of Josiah Crowely, all of whom state that Josiah had promised them part of his estate. One of them is Abigail Rowen, an elderly lady, whom Nancy finds fallen on the floor of her house with a sprained ankle. Abigail, so Nancy buys "almost ten dollars worth of groceries". Ah, inflation, how I've missed you. After a few senile moments, Abigail tells Nancy that Josiah said a notebook was hidden in a clock, with information about the missing will in it.

Long story short, Nancy finds out that the clock belongs to the Tophams, and that it is at the Tophams' summer cottage. Nancy finds and enters the cottage, discovers that there are robbers at there, gets locked up, frees herself, scolds the Jeff Tucker, the drunken "negro" caretaker, and outsmarts the police in finding the robbers. Everyone gets Josiah's money--except for the Tophams, who have lost much of their own money in risky stockbuying.
  • Nancy walks to a department store: "The walk was a long one, but [Nancy] took it at a brisk pace. Nancy naturally was athletic, and as she swung along more than one passerby turned to look after her in admiration." Just in case you forgot how perfect Nancy is.
  • Nancy's roadster's tire gets a puncture, and Nancy replaces it herself. It may not seem as incredible today, but in the 1930's, when this book was written, it was probably almost shocking for a woman to do this "man's work". Let alone traipsing all over the counrty in the first place, without a male escort.
  • Jeff Tucker is yet another dim-witted, unrefined "colored" man. He's also drunk silly when Nancy finds the Topham cottage being ransacked. To add to all this, he reveals that (to him) it wasn't his fault: "Dat white man...drives up in white see-dan. He drives up and sees how lonesome and useless I feels, so he says, 'Jeff, hop in, I know a place where.' Course I locked up dis heah house and de bahn and seen dat everything was safe". He later admits that he let the "white man" get him drunk. There is much more dialogue from Jeff Tucker, basically in the same vein. Head, meet desk.
~Image from Series-books.com ~

Friday, July 13, 2012

#2: The Hidden Staircase; revised ed. and compare

The revised edition of The Hidden Staircase is almost completely different from the original. Characters from The Secret of the Old Clock do not appear, and the elderly ladies from the original editions are now Helen Corning's aunt and the aunt's mother. These women are more well-composed in this edition, and plan activities to cheer Nancy up as she waits for news of her father. Nancy visits the mansion (now called Twin Elms), but somewhat more "campy" events (such as a scary owl appearing in a room at night) happen, and the "ghost" is not Mr. Gombet (now Nathan Gomber ), but a man named Willie Wharton, who is loosely connected with both the railroad property case and is the "ghost"--working in cahoots with Mr. Gomber. Mr. Gomber doesn't have a servant who helps him with his wily ways, but works with tow other men.
  • Nancy and her father are are on a stroll, and are almost run over by a truck, which had been deliberately pushed down a hill so that it rolled at  high speed. They had to jump into the nearby river to get out of the way.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

#2: The Hidden Staircase; original text

I think I'll make a comment about the cover first. The hat on Nancy's head looks like a bad attempt to make a trendy swimming cap. Oh well, I'm not from the 1930's so who am I to judge fashion? :)

Nancy is just sitting at home, bored, when a man comes to the door. Nancy doesn't hesitate to open it, and this Nathan Gombet guy starts ranting and telling her to get her father. Nancy tells him that her father is away, and he starts throwing a fit, claiming that Carson Drew has cheated him on a property sale. Instead of slamming the door or punching him in the face, Nancy lets him in the house. He wants papers that prove that Carson "cheated" him. Nancy loses her temper and isn't afraid to call the intruder "crazy"--which he is, but if someone forcefully came into my home, I wouldn't say "yo, dude, you're crazy!" He only backs off when she manages to pick up the telephone and starts dialing. He runs off, while threatening her father.

 When Nancy tells Mr. Drew about what happened, he simply says, "Next time, don't let [Nathan Gombet] in." A typical response when your daughter tells you someone tried to steal your things and threatened your daughter, no? Nathan Gombet appears later, however, to rant at Mr. Drew personally and to threaten him.

Nancy goes to check on Abby Rowen (Nancy helped her and a few other people by finding a missing will in the first book, The Secret of the Old Clock, review\recap coming soon). Miss Rowen has a visitor, an elderly woman named Rosemary who lives with her twin sister, Floretta, at a Civil War era family mansion. Nancy stays at the mansion, because the women have had things stolen and seen mysterious shadows and heard unexplainable music. Oh, and by the by, Mr. Gombet offered to buy their house for much less than what it is worth. More mysterious things happen, and Nancy searches for hidden doors but is unsuccessful. She also gets a warning message to leave the Turnbull estate. Meanwhile, Mr. Drew, returning from business matters in Chicago, stops at a station where he is supposed to meet Nancy. Mr. Gombet meets him--and tricks him into believing that Nancy is ill and had to be taken to his (Gombet's) home. Carson ends up captive in Gombet's basement. Ironically, later that night, Nancy sneaks out to search the Gombet house and subsequently ends up captured herself. But in true Nancy Drew fashion, she finds a hidden door that Gombet didn't know about, and manages to get into a tunnel, and eventually ends up at the mansion. Mr. Drew is found, Gombet is arrested, and all's well that ends well.

  • Alison Hoover from The Secret of the Old Clock shows up and brags about her sister Grace's new "electric sewing machine".
  •  When Nancy asks Floretta when she noticed her diamond barrette was missing, Floretta answers that it was after "the iceman" had delivered ice. I get ice delivered too--by an ice machine in the fridge. :-p
  • Nancy says: "I think Dad was wise to suggest that I take his revolver. And I'll bring plenty of ammunition, too! Enough to annihilate an army!" Guess it's true that the Nancy of the revised editions is the Nancy I remember from childhood--perfect, collected, smart and meticulous in every way and hardly ever making mistakes!
  • Alison Hoover also gives Nancy a whole chicken and some eggs as a gift. Nancy puts it in the "electrical refrigerator". Ok, question--wouldn't a NON electrical refrigerator simply be called an ice box? Anyone...?
  • Nathan Gombet's accomplice is a fat, angry, cruel "negress" who makes sure Nancy stays captive. But later, when Nancy leads the police to the Gombet house so they can arrest her as well, she comes out and threatens the main policeman with a gun. Get a load of this quote!: "You git, white man! Or I'll fill yo system full of lead". Um, yea. The policeman eventually take her by surprise as they don't want to directly shoot her.
I need to vent some anger...I read Twilight and found that there were a few good points that I enjoyed. So I thought, there's nothing to lose--why not try the second book (New Moon)? I was wrong. There was something to lose--MY TEMPER! I. Hate. That. Book. Sorry...gotta let it go somehow!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

#15: The Haunted Bridge; revised ed. and comparison

There really is no notable difference between the original Haunted Bridge and the revised edition, except being shorter and having the language, clothes, cars, etc. updated. What I liked is that it spends less time rambling about Nancy's sudden skill at the golf tournament and focuses more on the mystery. Mortimer Bartesque is still here, but his role is a little more played down.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

#15: The Haunted Bridge; original text

Our adventure finds Nancy, Bess and George residing at a fancy motel. Nancy is an almost expert golfer at the hotel's course (of course) and enters a competition; her father also needs her help in solving the mystery of a jewelry theft gang, so she manages to fit in both golfing practice and investigation. Her father tells her that one of the suspects is a young woman, Miss Judson, who owns a sparkling "vanity case" (contains face powder). Nancy goes to a hotel where the woman is probably staying, and she just happens to see a sad-looking young woman pull out a jeweled vanity case! The woman leaves before Nancy can ask her name, but their idle conversation revealed that the woman's house burned down near the hotel Nancy is staying at. It's sort of a vague clue. But near ruins of the house Nancy finds the real jeweled case!

This plot is written and handled somewhat clumsily in my mind, so, in short, here is the basic story: Miss Judson was falesly accused of stealing the jeweled vanity case by another woman,. This woman, Mrs. Brownell, was a guest at Miss Judson's estate. Mrs. Brownell lent it  (the vanity case) to Miss Judson to look at. A fire broke out late in the night, and though Miss Judson took out the vanity case as she fled, she lost it, and was accused of stealing. This estranged her from her fiancee. At the end, though--no surprise here--she was cleared of any accusations and it turns out that Mrs. Brownell was part of the jewelry theft ring. Miss Judson happily marries her fiancee, and all is well.

  • A subplot in this book involves a man named Mortimer Bartesque, a twenty year old who is very attracted to Nancy, whom in the original texts is sixteen years old, not eighteen. He is always flattering her and talking about her lovely "feminine charms" (in a G-rated way, of course, but still very embarassing for poor Nancy). He sends her flowers and asks her to a dance, but is oblivious to her scorning of him. She's originally suspicious of him because she soon notices that his signature is always different--on a card he sent with the flowers, in the hotel registration book, on the golf ball he gave to her (vainly thinking she would find his autographed ball to be a great honor). She wonders for a short time if he's involved with the jewelry thefts, but quickly realizes he's just playing a game. He had heard of the famous Nancy Drew and wanted to see if he could outwit her.
  • George gets a call from her mother, whom mentions that this vacation will be a nice, relaxing time before George goes back to school. This adds, at least in a small way, more realism overall. In the revised texts, the girls are eighteen and apparently not in college or working. 
  • It is interesting to look back on these books and see how different Nancy's social life is from in the revised editions. Though Nancy of course attended dances and social events in both old and revised editions, they are "a bigger deal" in the originals, such as this. Nancy wears a "sports frock" when she is golfing; is adamant that she requires an escort for a hotel dance, demure as it is, so she reluctantly ends up with the only man who asked her--Mortimer Bartesque; pays meticulous attention to what she wears to the dance; and despite walking and scrambling about among the woods looking for a lost golf ball, always manages to look like a fashion plate.
  • Nancy wins the golf tournament (surprised?).
  • There is another instance of describing a black woman as "colored". 
  • Ned is in this, but really doesn't play a big role until the end.
That's all for now!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

#13: Mystery of the Ivory Charm; revised ed. and comparison

The revised edition isn't too different from the original. Fashions and cars have been updated, but that's per usual. I'll just illustrate a few main points:
  • The revised edition doesn't begin with the girls waiting for the train. Mr. Drew has another case that he needs Nancy to investigate (of course). His client is, conveniently, the circus manager. His case involves illegal activity at the circus. The manager gives out four tickets to the circus as a favor. Carson, Nancy, Bess and George go to the circus, and now we meet Coya and Rai. Coya is now named  Rishi.
  • The circus manager becomes Rishi\Coya's legal guardian when Rai disappears, and requests that the Drews house him. This gets the Drews out of the sticky "kidnapping Rishi\Coya for his [Rishi\Coya's] own protection without telling any officials" deal.
  • Hannah has no issues with keeping a "brown-skinned boy" as in the original, TG. She also does not worry about Rishi\Coya getting the idea that he's a raja and thus becoming a snob.
  • And that's...pretty much it. It's less descriptive, but doesn't wander as much as the original did. I actually even like the cover illustration better.More mysterious, IMO.
Up next: More 'Little House'!

#13: The Mystery of the Ivory Charm; original text

We find our trio (Nancy, Bess and George) at a train station, feeling rather disgruntled. They have just finished yet another camping vacation at a lake and are, naturally, not pleased to find their train very late. A circus train distracts them, however. They watch as as a little boy from India leads an elephant off of the train without using any physical restraint on the big animal. The Indian man standing nearby is apparently pissed off at that, revealing a frightening power complex.  The man (his name is 'Rai') beats 'Coya' right there at the station, whilst claiming that Coya is his son. Nancy steps in to boldly push Rai away from the child (you go, Nan!)and tells him not to hit Coya again. They argue for a while, and suddenly a snake in a tree drops on Nancy. It's a boa constrictor, and Nancy is nearly choked to death. A reptile keeper pries the snake from Nancy just in time, but Rai attributes Nancy's escape from near death to mystical powers and gives Nancy a "lucky" ivory elephant charm. After warning Rai again not to hurt Coya, the girls hurry to their train, only to find that Coya has sneaked onto the train. Nancy decides to pay his fare and take him home. Mr. Drew comes home, and agrees that Nancy did the right thing; also, Coya can stay with them! Just send a letter to Rai, it'll be ok! No need to contact any officials!

The Drews and Coya are suddenly brought into a complicated mystery involving Ms. Allison, a dippy young woman who puts on a charade of believing in mystic powers, and find out that she worked with Rai to kidnap Coya from India. Coya was supposed to be the new raja (ruler) of India, but in exchange for lots 'dough' and jewels, Rai and Ms. Allison took Coya to the US and got the wannabe raja a spot on the throne. But all is unveiled, and Coya goes to India, but not before inviting Nancy and co. to India.

  • Ned invites Nancy to an Emerson U. baseball game and says proudly that this is a "crack" baseball team. Holy cats, they're on drugs? (kidding, kidding)
  • A professor from Emerson talks about the various beliefs and rituals of the Indian people. Ned proclaims "I'm glad I live in America." I'm so glad, Ned! I was afraid you hated living in the USA!
  • Ned invites Nancy to a dance, and Nancy frets because she doesn't have a new dress to wear. Ned tells her to "wear any old thing". Smooth, Ned.
  • Nancy continually tells everyone around her that she doesn't believe in mysticism and magic charms. We know, Nancy. You've told us at least fifty times!
  • Hanna has doubts about housing Coya; she's worried about having extra work, and also proclaims that she won't be raising a "brown-skinned boy". 'Caus brown-skinned boys are the worst, you see.
  • Hannah eventually takes pity on the boy. It also helps that Coya volunteers to work around the house and in the garden (and he does) because he is very grateful for the Drews' kindness. 
  • ...but when Coya learns that he might be a lost raja, Hannah gets an idea in her head that Coya will start acting like a snob and lets Nancy know it.
There you have it! Time to compare the original to the revised edition.
FYI: Some posts have not been linked to their respective titles the book list pages. I'll be doing that soon.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

#53: The Sky Phantom

When I saw the cover of the book (which is also boring, IMO), I thought "oh jeez, Nancy is FLYING now? Is there anything she can't do?" Well, no, apparently. She's taking flying lessons, and at the beginning of the book she's already doing advanced flying, such as doing fast circles. Her instructor tells her that he won't tell her the most loops a student had done, because she would probably try to break that record. While they're flying, Nancy sees Bess and George, who are on a horseback ride (the Golden Trio is visiting a ranch. Again), waving frantically. It turns out that they saw a plane in trouble, but don't know where it is. They soon find it, pilot-less and without any identification. The instructor radios to the tower, and it turns out that the pilot, Robert, is missing. Everyone who knows Robert loves him, and our mystery begins.

Bring in the stolen ponies, angry threats, attempt to kill the girls by sending a big log down a trail, and all kinds of cooky stuff. You see, Nancy inadvertently led to the firing of this guy Ben Rall's dismissal from Hamilton Ranch. He purposely put a burr under her horse's saddle when saddling it and the pain made it flip out. Ben has some major issues about city girls who fly planes and try to solve mysteries.

The girls find a medal where the plane had landed. It is monogrammed 'RP', for Roger Paine of course. Bess eventually finds that the figures on it are actually stylized letters and read 'bomb site'. Anyway, after this it gets dull. Nancy and her instructor visit the site of the abandoned plane BILLIONS of times. Nancy explores a cave (alone, without telling anyone) and discovers out. In fact, she ends up trying to flee from a wave of oil and mice. There's a weird, misty-looking shape of a man in one big cloud. Nancy and Ned escape getting suffocated (of course). A cache of (defused) bombs and rifles is found, the bad guys are caught; we learn that the man-shaped cloud was made of "magnetic dust" (???). Unless I missed something, we never really learn what the bad guys' real goal is.
  • Bess has a real meltdown in this one. She's falling for this cowboy, Chuck, and he asks her to marry him. But Dave (her BF) is coming to visit the ranch and doesn't know what the hell the wants to do.
  • Bess is so distraught about picking Dave or Chuck that she has a dream in which the two kill each other. Yikes! I don't think I need to tell you who she picks at the end, though
  • Oooh! Oooh! Nancy makes a mistake!A MISTAKE! >:p
    Feeling a bit overconfident Nancy decided to show Bruce (her instructor) her mastery of steep turns. [to control the spiraling plane] Nancy pulled back violently on the stick. Suddenly the plane snapped over in the opposite direction and began a vicious spin...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

#10: Password to Larkspur Lane: Revised ed. and comparison

The revised edition is "pretty much" the same core plot and characters from the original edition. Dr. Spires' mysterious disappearance (and reappearance) as well as his and Nancy's conclusion about the illegitimate nursing home, are introduced and finished earlier, with less description (par for the course in the revised books and on). Effie is introduced earlier, and her ditzy personality is somewhat toned down. Bess and George (instead of Helen) help her sneak around the mysterious house.

However, there is a subplot that ties into the mystery; there are strange doin's at Helen's grandparents' house, including rings of mysterious blue fire starting up outside--sometimes coming toward people! It turns out that the Corning's housekeeper, Morgan, is in Adam Thorne's (the debarred lawyer) debt. Due to his criminal past, Morgan needed forged job recommendations. But because Adam Thorne starts to go too far commiting crimes, Morgan tries to go back to "the good side" (I keep thinking of Severus Snape abandoning Voldemort :-p) and his life is in danger. But of course, everything does tie up in the end.

  • There are no more frilly frocks, "colored starters" or bumbling Irish police chiefs.
  • Nancy gets a new convertible--no more roadsters
  • Nancy, Bess and George stop at a restaurant before "Mission save the old ladies" (my phrase :D ), but there is no old fogy ranting about the Tookers' noisy airplane and the fact that they dare to not go to church or subscribe to the town newspaper.
  • In the revised edition, Nancy is at the flower show when a big dog suddenly attacks her--Adam Thorne's doings, Carson Drew surmises. Poor Nancy can't even go to a flower show without risking life and limb.

Though I usually like the revised editions because they're a quick, "take-a-break" read, the original was better. The Morgan subplot was really useless in the revised edition, and the yacht club ball was described more colorfully in the original.

Above: Nancy as she appeared in the originals: a stylish dresser with a golden bob.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

#10: The Password to Larkspur Lane; and the first old vs new edition compare and contrast!

Mousecliffe had the amazing idea to read the first editions and revised editions and compare them! So I'll get my hands on as many as I can. Not all in the series are originals that have revised text. Later in the series, they were written for more modern settings, and stayed that way through all 56 yellow-spine volumes.
I'll post about the originals first, then the revised compared with the originals. The revised editions won't get their own posts, and I'll put both posts under the same title on the list. Moving on...
Our happy blonde (not titian in these originals) detective is swooning over her larkspur plants, which she is going to take to a flower show, when a plane almost crashes. Also, a pigeon comes down, and the pigeon has a weird note in the container under its wing: "Trouble here. Blue bells are now singing horses". Trouble! Oh, no, no trouble shall exist when Nancy is involved! Also, Nancy seems to be an expert on pigeons. Of course.

On the way home from putting her flowers among with all the other flowers in the competition, Nancy notices Dr. Spires, the family doctor, driving along. He suddenly stops behind a "touring car" on the side of the road. The touring car has curtains instead of windows and the curtains are rolled down. Dr. Spires gets out, and gets yanked into the car. Instead of going to the police, Nancy sees that the Dr's car is locked, the keys gone. Well, that means he'll come back, she reasons. I'd err on the side of caution, Nancy...but I am questioning your super sleuth powers! Elementary, my dear Drew.

Hannah falls down a flight of stairs, and they go to Dr. Spires, who wasn't kidnapped after all. Instead, he was blindfolded until he was taken into a house to treat some elderly ladies. Now he's checking Hannah. She'll be okay, she just needs rest. Meanwhile, Dr. Spires asks for Nancy's help regarding his bizarre not-kidnapping. Dr. Spires thinks that someone is running an illegal, unregistered nursing home/retirement home. At this alarming conclusion, Nancy and her father go to the police station. Mr. Drew goes in first, and Nancy gets accosted by a man demanding her name. Unfortunately, a friend of Nancy walks by and says, "Hi, Nancy". The man is all, "oh, you're nosy Mr. Drew's daughter!"

Officer Mulligan, a stout, brash, mumbling Irishman, greets Nancy. "Sure, and we know all about ye, Miss Drew. I'd be honored if ye'd...join the force, so I would. 'Tis a strange story...but with your brains and my muscle, we'll get at the bottom of it" Nancy is not amused. She gives Mr. Bumbling Irishman two clues; the license plate of the suspicious car and a necklace Dr. Spires slipped from an old lady, in hopes that it'd be a clue related to their case. On the way home, Nancy and Carson are followed by Adam Thorne, a disbarred lawyer, who is also the man who accosted Nancy. Nancy manages to shake off the lawyer.

Not much happens until Nancy takes the bracelet to be inspected by a jeweler; perhaps he can trace the family crest. The jeweler makes a copy of the bracelet, and Nancy plans to bring it home for safekeeping (wouldn't it be safer secured at the jeweler's shop?). Not two steps out of the door, and the woman snatches the bracelet and Nancy's purse. Nancy chases her through a department store and almost catches her in the "silverware department", which I guess would now be part of the home products department. She checks the dressing rooms. No regard for privacy, Nancy whips open every curtain, only to find an overweight woman trying to squeeze into some clothing, which highly amuses Nancy. She jogs to the elevator, who asks the "colored starter" (way back when, elevators were attended) if the woman went into the elevator. She didn't. Eventually, the purse is recovered by an employee, but the woman and the bracelet get away.

Nancy is invited by Helen to go to Sylivan Lake to take a short vacation. Ned is working there, and Nancy somehow surmises that the illegal retirement home might be in that area, so she accepts. She also concludes that "singing horses" is a code for "larkspurs". Because larks sing, silly, and spurs are used on horses! Okay then.

The pigeon escapes through the fault of Effie, Hannah's feather-brained niece, who was brought in to help Hannah. The girls follow the pigeon, Effie blabbing about boyfriends and movie stars, driving Nancy crazy. The pigeon goes home to a large mansion. A nasty-looking man comes down the driveway, a whip in hand, demanding to know why Nancy is there. She pretends to want to buy some pigeons, but he tries to force her to go see the coops. He's getting pretty nasty when Effie, who's hiding in the car, starts laughing like a lunatic. This weirds Evil Man out and Nancy jumps into the car and speeds off. Effie explains that she saw "a [moving] picture" where a fictional actress does the same thing when faced by an evil guy. Nancy drives to a small town nearby and they have dinner at an inn. Nancy quizzes the waiter about the mansion. The family that lives there is the Tooker family. Apparently they are not well liked, not only because they aren't the social type, but also don't go to church or subscribe to the town newspaper. THOSE BASTARDS! However, the waiter tells Nancy that those things COULD be looked over, if not for the Tookers' plane "a'roarin' and a'hoppin' every day".

Another visit with Dr. Spires, and Nancy Holmes determines approximately where the place with larkspurs could be. Dr. Spires remembers that he was driven far, went over a dirt road and then a gravelled place. Sounds vague to me, but I'm not Nancy.

As they leave Dr. Spires' place, his phone rings, and its a frantic phone call from Effie. Someone tried to force his way into the house! Effie is so worked up that, when after the villian leaves, she does not recognize Mr. Drew when he comes. She barricades the front door with the couch. Eventually, all is settled. Effie describes the man. He's not Adam T.

Nancy wants to go to Sylivan Lake, but Carson is worried. Eventually he grudgingly agrees, on the condition that they trick the stalker. He buys he a new car, but has the car shop owner drive it to the back of the house in the dead of night so it doesn't arouse suspicion. Nancy drags herself over the back wall, is handed her luggage, and she heads off to Sylivan Lake, where she apologizes to Mr. and Mrs. Corning, her hosts, for coming in so late.

The next day promises to be awesome. Nancy competes in an informal diving competition, and, of course, she wins, defeating a former professional girl diver, who is about her age. Applause and prays! Nancy basks in the sun, but when she gets up, a little girl stumbles off of a dock and into the water, into the path of an oncoming motorboat! Nancy immediately saves the day, and also finds out that the girl and her mother have the last name Eldridge--which happens to be the family name traced via the bracelet's family crest. Nancy shows Mrs. Eldridge the bracelet, and the woman surmises that it belongs to her husband's Aunt Mary.

Nancy and Helen spy on the Tooker place again, but don't have much time to do anything. A dance hosted by Sylivan Lake's yacht club is taking place that night. The girls dress in their "frocks", "admiring each others' dainty lingerie". Nancy is the star of the show, and poor Ned barely gets a dance in.

Well, I think I'll complete my tome in a short paragraph; Nancy and Helen dress as a nurse (Helen) and an old lady (Nancy), and get passed through the gate of the Tooker estate, Helen claiming to be bringing the new patient they overheard. Nancy is found out, though (Helen goes for help). Nancy is thrown into an old, dank cistern, but she uses shards from a broken ladder to clamber up. Maybe I should make a tag called "MacGyver style getaway". She ends up in the pigeon coop. She slips away, and disables the Tookers' cars and plane. She is almost captured again when Carson, Ned and the police save the day. Turns out that the Tookers swindled old ladies (via tricky contracts and drugging them so they don't think twice about it) into giving large sums of their fortunes in exchange for nursing care. Old Mrs. Eldridge and all the other old ladies are reunited with their families, and Nancy has saved the day.

  • The Cornings' cook, who is, thankfully, described as black, not "colored" (the latter term is sort of insulting--aren't we all "colored"?), serves Nancy and Helen breakfast in the morning after the ball. She says "Miss Helen, de missus done tole me to let you gals sleep. She an' de master, dey done gone fo' de day. Dey say dey be back before supper, but on no 'count to break you' slumbers, c'ase you' wore out yo' shoes last night". Now I know that back in the 30's, when this book was written, there were many black Americans who were uneducated, and probably spoke in a similar way, but this just seems overdone.
  • Effie hides in the "rumble seat" when Nancy first found the Tooker estate.

I hope it wasn't too long, there was so much to review!