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.