Nancy is traveling by ship from Holland to New York with Bess and George. When Nancy receives the wrong luggage, a mystery unfolds.

The mystery was intriguing. Nancy uncovers an international smuggling ring all whilst on board a boat. That was pretty cool. And she makes a new friend, Nelda. The ship Captain’s niece. Back home in Johannesburg, Nelda was accused of a jewelry theft but was exonerated. The accusation still haunts her though. But no worries, because Nancy Drew is on the case. 

Editing Gone Wrong

While the story in and of itself was entertaining, my problem with this book were the inconsistencies. 

The ending of the last book, The Clue of the Tapping Heels, suggests Nancy was told of this mystery by a soldier. How is that possible when Nancy only started investigating when her own trunk was misplaced while on the ship and when Nelda confesses the real reason she left Johannesburg?

Also, at one point, George gets injured while on this case and has to spend the day in the infirmary. So, 

After breakfast Nancy, Bess, and Nelda hurried back to their cabin

When they get to their cabin, they discover one of the stewards has just tidied up their room. Then, 

George said, “I have never trusted that man. I predict that one of these days we’re going to find out he has something to do with the mystery.”

The girl’s get a visit from Lou, the locksmith. When he leaves, 

Bess checked her watch. “Visiting hours at the infirmary are beginning,” she said. “Let’s go down to see George. She’ll want to know what’s been happening while she’s been gone.” 

WHAT?! I thought George was in the cabin with them. I mean, she did make a comment about the steward that cleaned their room right? Now all of a sudden, she’s not there? Um. Okaaay.

There’s another inconsistency later on in the book. Nancy and Nelda are thrown overboard by two masked men. Bess and George get there right when the girls have fallen over. 

     While Bess stood there, paralyzed with fright, George ran to a wall phone and picked it up. As soon as a man’s voice answered, she cried out, “Stop the ship at once! Two girls were thrown overboard. Quick! Do something!”

     “Just a minute,” the man said. “Stay on the line.” He gave orders through his intercom, then spoke to Bess again.

Nope! Nope! Nope! The guy isn’t speaking to Bess again. He never spoke to Bess in the first place because she’s frozen in fear. George is who he would be speaking to again. Ugh!

I need to get my hands on a physical copy of this book to check whether these issues are only in the ebook format.

Social Norms

Besides the terrible editing job, there was something in this book that made me laugh. The talk about reputation. Specifically, a women’s reputation. Nancy and her friends open the mysterious trunk she accidentally received (to try to find the person’s identity, of course), and find a lot of men’s clothes. At that exact moment, a steward walks into their cabin to ask a question and then promptly leaves. The girls tease Nancy. Joking that the steward will likely start a rumor that Nancy has her boyfriend hidden in her room. 

But then later when the ship’s purser helps them with their detective work, he enters their cabin at 2:30am. Wouldn’t this be more damaging to their reputation? He’s always in the girl’s room at odd hours. And when he and Nancy visit the ship’s hold in the middle of the night, no one says anything. But this is Nancy Drew. So of course, nothing “untoward” is going on. 

And while we’re on the subject. Who cares about a girl’s reputation. We women have a lot of pressure put on us as it is. Let us be!

Fun fact:

Obviously this book hasn’t been updated in a while. So when the book was written, Netherlands was still using the guilder as its currency. Which is the currency used in the book. I was confused when I first read that part because I remembered using the euro when I was in Amsterdam. I learned something new. 

Final Thoughts

Despite everything, this is a terrific mystery at sea. And I got a lot of insight into the times in which this book was first written and revised. 

Now can someone please explain to me what Nancy and friends were doing in Holland in the first place? Where is that mystery story?

* All quotes used in this post come straight from the Kindle version of the 1976 book (2008 Printing) *


5 thoughts on “Nancy Drew (#17): The Mystery of the Brass-Bound Trunk by Carolyn Keene

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