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.
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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...
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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!

1 comment:

mousecliffe said...

Welcome back!
I have only read the original text. I was fascinated by the fact that pretty much anyone who could afford a plane could just get a pilot's license. Just like a car but more likely to kill you.
And the carrier pigeons - and the prize larkspurs - and the disguises - there was almost too much happening in this book.
Our girl climbing out of the cistern with nary a broken fingernail - you have to love it.