By the Light of the Study Lamp (The Dana Girls Mystery Stories #1) by Carolyn Keene

Jean and Louise Dana investigate the disappearance of their antique lamp.

Written by: Leslie McFarlane (1934)

Another Stratemeyer Syndicate publication written under the Carolyn Keene pseudonym. This book was written by the ghostwriter of The Hardy Boys series. 

Jean and Louise are due back at their school for the beginning of their sophomore year. As a surprise, their uncle Ned Dana, buys the girls a lamp that is then quickly stolen. The girls manage to track down the would-be thief but without evidence are forced to concede he may not be the criminal they’re looking for. Back at school, the girls encounter Lettie Briggs. A spoiled, rich girl that has it out for the Dana sisters. On top of that, the girls are also trying to help their friend, Evelyn Starr search for her missing brother. 

Phew! A lot going on. The Dana girls are a force to be reckoned with. They’re impetuous. Act now, think later type of girls. And I was completely okay with that. At times, their behavior bordered on insolence. But honestly, after reading so many Nancy Drew’s, it was a breath of fresh air to see two girls act this way. These girls give zero cares. Zero. All they want, is to catch the criminals and help their friend. 

This book is also set at an all-girls boarding school. So the girls have to work around the school rules to accomplish their detective endeavors. And they have to deal with the aforementioned, Lettie Briggs. This girl. She’s snooty and eager to get the Dana girls in trouble. Never works out for her. The Dana girls always get her back though. Always. 

Did I enjoy this book? Surprisingly, yes. Like in Nancy Drew, the Dana girls have a suspect early on. It’s all about gathering evidence against them.There were a few times where I had to suspend belief because some of the action in the book was over the top. I figured out the ending early on, too. But it was an entertaining read 🙂

The Girl Scouts at Singing Sands (Girl Scouts series #2) by Mildred A. Wirt

I did say I wasn’t done with Mildred and the Stratemeyer Syndicate haha. 

That’s my Brownie sash and Girl Scout badges haha

This book isn’t a part of the Syndicate. It was written by Mildred herself. While ghostwriting the Nancy Drew series, she also worked on her own books. I was lucky enough to find this one on one of my Goodwill runs. I recognized her name and immediately decided to buy it. Good thing I did, because my library does not have any of her books! And a quick Goodreads search tells me there are only 6 ratings (including my own) and 1 review (mine). 

Now, let’s talk about the story. The book revolves around Judy and her troop of Girl Scouts (Beaver Patrol). They are 8th grade girls (13? 14?) spending time at Pine Cone Camp with other scout troops. Judy’s aunt telegrams her, informing her she wishes to spend a small vacation in the area and asks Judy to find her somewhere to stay. But it’s summer, and everything nearby is booked. Well, everything except for a small, mysterious cottage. 

Whilst reading, I kept comparing this book to Nancy. I couldn’t help it! These books are actually different though. Sure, Judy is fearless and quite an intrepid sleuth. But the tone of the story isn’t like a Nancy Drew mystery. Judy and her friends are simply going on with their lives when they become curious by certain events occurring around them. 

I really liked this book. One thing I particularly enjoyed was the fact that they were girl scouts. Their various camp activities were touched upon. It allowed me to get a better sense of the various girls. (Judy’s troop is made up of 7). And the the book itself is really educational. The skills the troop learns are actually used. For example, we see the troop administer first aid when they witness a car accident, and bring up fire safety when making a campfire. As a Californian, I really appreciated that. Not to mention there are discussions about caves, stalagtites and stalagmites. All very interesting. 

There was one instance where the language used in the book made me cringe. Look, I get it. This is an old book. So I’ll forgive it. I guess. I am kind of glad it wasn’t any of the girl scouts that said it though. As a former Girl Scout, you know I would have gone on a rant. 

So. A great little book. Not like a Nancy Drew story. But if anything, her aura is still felt. In the way Judy carries herself. And how both have to prove themselves to be taken seriously by others. 

I really wish I had access to more of these books :/ 

A Double Dose of Nancy Drew #7

Today I bring you a double dose! (Apparently I lied when I said there wouldn’t be anymore of these haha). Because yes, I was able to get my hands on the elusive Nancy Drew #54!! Whoo! 😀

Well, let’s get to it!

The Strange Message in the Parchment (#54)  

Written by: Harriet Adams (1977)

Aha! Finally!!! I had to go to yet another library branch to check this book out. That’s 3 different libraries I had to visit to find this book. But am I complaining? Nope. It’s been a bit of an adventure. Mystery of the Missing Nancy Drew book 😉

Anyway, this book is somewhat entertaining. Nancy is asked by her childhood friend, Junie Flockhart, to help her family uncover the secret behind a strange parchment. Simple enough. 

The parchment itself was purchased by the Flockhart family from their best client, Mr. Rocco. When Nancy asks him if he knows of any story behind the parchment, he gets very suspicious. But Nancy digs deeper and deeper. Ultimately, she reunites a mother with her kidnapped son.
Nancy stays with Junie on the family farm. They mainly raise sheep and when Junie gives Nancy a tour, she shows her the slaughterhouse. Depressing! Because then when Bess, George and the boys visit, they go to the slaughterhouse again. *shudders*

One of the things that got on my nerves about this book was all the morals. And I’m not talking about all the quotes from scripture. That I was actually okay with. I’m always fascinated by how people translate its meaning. What I’m talking about are the values/virtues that are imparted upon the reader. Every Nancy Drew book has them and they’ve never bothered me before. But boy, in this book they seemed to pop up at every page! Maybe it’s the fact that I felt personally attacked haha. (Cows are my favorite animal. But I also love cheese burgers). I don’t need judgment from a Nancy Drew book for my omnivorous ways, thank you very much.

So, was this book worth the wait? Eh. Not really. It wasn’t mindblowing. Just simply okay. 

On to the next one!

The Thirteenth Pearl (Nancy Drew #56)

Written by: Harriet Adams (1979)

Nancy has to find a missing pearl necklace for Mr. Moto. The necklace was on loan by the wealthy Mrs. Rossmeyer, and Mr. Moto worries that his business reputation will be ruined. All clues point to Japan, so Nancy and her father follow the trail there. 

This was an interesting mystery. Weird, but interesting. In a complete turn of events, Nancy travels with Mr. Carson Campbell Drew instead of Bess and/or George. They weren’t even invited! Strange. But! Nancy did leave them with a sleuthing job. So there’s that haha.

So the weirdness? A pearl worshipping cult. They weren’t the main culprit but they were sort of involved. Nancy and Ned witness a ritual or something. They’re baffled. I was baffled. To each his own, I guess.

I did learn about oysters and pearls though! I didn’t know it was possible to get oysters to make the pearls by inserting some kind of nucleus into them. Sad, but fascinating. Are pearl farms still a thing? It sounds like something that would continue to exist nowadays.

So not a shabby mystery. Thank goodness for that. Not a terrible way to end the original series 🙂

Final Thoughts
Phew! I am DONE!!!! Finito!!! I’ve officially read all 56 of the original Nancy Drew Mystery Stories!!! 😀 😀 😀 But, I’m not quite done with my Year of Nancy Drew. There are still a couple of weeks left to go and I have a few Nancy Drew books left to read. It will be nice to compare the originals to the ones that came after. So, next week be prepared for a Triple Dose of Nancy! 😉

Nancy Drew (#55): Mystery of Crocodile Island by Carolyn Keene

So… today’s review was supposed to be a double dose. Yeah, that obviously didn’t happen. When I went to the library to check out the book, it was gone. Went to another branch, overdue. Didn’t have time to continue hunting the book down so skipped ahead to the next one. This one. This time I was smart enough to put a hold on the book at the library. Fingers crossed it comes through by next week!

Written by: Harriet Adams (1978)

Mr. Gonzales suspects his business partners of shady dealings regarding their joint Crocodile Ecology Company so he asks his old college friend, Mr. Drew, to investigate. Naturally, Nancy is asked to help. So she and Bess and George fly out to Florida to investigate.

Early on in their adventure, the 3 girls are kidnapped. But resourceful as ever, they manage to escape. They decide to use aliases as they investigate, to thwart anymore problems that may arise from their sleuthing. With the help of their hosts’ teenage son, the girls quickly uncover many important clues. 

This was an okay mystery. The whole time you know something illegal is going on at the crocodile island but you’re not exactly sure what. It did actually keep me guessing for a while. And bonus points when the boys show up and don’t rescue one of the girls. 

The thing about these books though, is the lack of continuity. It’s something I think I’ve talked about before. And will mention once again here. In this book, Nancy states that she’s never been to the Florida Keys before. But. She has. In The Clue of the Black Keys. I remember because I really enjoyed that book. A minor detail. Still, though. Because uncharacteristically, this book makes reference to another Nancy Drew book. It mentions something that happened in that book. So we can recall the events that happened in book #15 but not in book #28? Okaaay…

Another thing is George’s name. Books and books ago, George states that her parents initially thought they were having a boy. Then they had her, a girl. And her parents decided to keep the name they had originally chosen: George. So she’s always had a traditional boy name. Now, in this book, that story is being altered. 

Georgia was her cousin’s real name, but she would never allow anyone to call her by it. 

No! No, no, no!! I remember very distinctly George saying her parents named her George. She never once said it was altered. And I remember one instance where her parents’ choice of name was criticized by someone. So why try to change her name now?? What’s the point?

Anyway, the book was alright. Not a favorite but definitely an improvement from the last few books, I guess.

Next week? Hopefully a double dose!

A Double Dose of Nancy Drew #6

The last double dose! From now on, there will be only one Nancy Drew review per week. We’re getting closer and closer to #56… 

Now, without further ado:

The Spider Sapphire Mystery (Nancy Drew #45)

Written by: Harriet Adams (1968)

Nancy and her friends are going on an African safari that is being hosted by Emerson College. While in Africa, Nancy is able to investigative work for one of her father’s cases. A rare spider sapphire has gone missing in Africa and Mr. Drew’s client is being accused of stealing it. It is up to Nancy and her friends to figure out where the sapphire could be. Also, Nancy is tasked with finding a singer’s missing brother in Africa. The last time he was seen, he was giving a tour before being attacked by a lioness. But his body was never recovered so his sister is holding on to hope that he is alive somewhere.

You know, this is another Nancy Drew book that has not aged well. A lot of cultural insensitivity and low-key racism by today’s standards. Big pile of yikes. 

The story was interesting though. In an unforeseen twist, Ned is kidnapped by the jewel thieves in an attempt to stop Nancy from going on her trip. He’s actually missing for a couple of days before Nancy comes to his rescue. Yeah, she finds him 😉 Once he’s safe, everyone of course acts like it’s no big deal and off they go to Africa.

The thieves attempt to stop Nancy from uncovering the truth multiple times. They put acid on her suitcase handle, burn her clothes and possessions (along with Bess and George’s), and attempt to suffocate her. But Nancy is undeterred. Love this headstrong girl. 

Anyway, the mystery has a decent conclusion. Nancy’s hunches always pan out. And the sightseeing! Favorite parts, by far. 

Fun fact: Omega Chi Epsilon is Ned’s fraternity house. Imagine my shock when I found out it’s real! And that it’s for chemical engineering students. Which makes sense, since a few books back it was mentioned that Ned is studying chemistry. I always figured it was fake. You know, like the movie ones usually are haha.

The Invisible Intruder (Nancy Drew #46)

Written by: Harriet Adams (1969)

Nancy is invited by Helen Archer to go with her and her husband on a mystery-hunting expedition. There have been strange happenings around five different places and Helen puts together a group to figure out what is happening. 

I absolutely enjoyed this mystery!! First of all, Helen and her husband Jim are back! It’s been a while since they’ve appeared. Second of all, this is one big mystery, made up of 5 smaller cases. They all tie in together, but that’s something the reader doesn’t find out until later. 

The group Helen puts together is made up of about 7-8 couples. So with all of these people focused on solving the cases, it was interesting to see how they all worked together. Of course, my girl Nancy does most of the sleuthing though haha. 

One of my favorite parts:

Nancy felt that this tall, good-looking boy was just about everything a girl could wish for. He was wonderful company, lots of fun, yet serious and practical whenever the young detective enlisted his aid on a case.

Finally! Nancy’s acknowledging her  feelings for Ned! ❤

Overall, an incredibly interesting story. Different from the other mysteries. Loved it! 

The next book in the series was written in the 1970’s. A new decade. Should be interesting! 

Nancy Drew (#44): The Clue in the Crossword Cipher by Carolyn Keene

Written by: Harriet Adams (1967)

Nancy Drew is asked by Carla Ponce to help her decipher a family heirloom. The item is an old wooden tablet with a monkey on one side and mysterious letters on the other. It is believed that the item once belonged to a Spanish ancestor of the family. So, Nancy and her friends travel to Carla’s homeland in South America, Peru. 

Okay this mystery takes Nancy all over Peru and into a part of Argentina. She even visits Machu Pichu and learns a bit of the native tongue. But of course, there are evil men trying to stop her from uncovering the tablet’s mystery. 

A group of smugglers, headed by a man calling himself El Gato (The Cat) is focused on solving the cipher before Nancy. Nobody knows what the cipher is going to uncover, but the possibility of its being some kind of treasure is too much for these criminals to pass up. So they try to hurt Nancy multiple times. Even going so far as to tampering with the plane’s door and causing a mid-air emergency. Yeah. While flying from Argentina back to Peru on a private plane, the door flies open and a big panic ensues as the plane begins to destabilize. Talk about a nightmare come true! But the pilot is amazing and is able to land the aircraft safely. Phew! 

An incredible mystery. I loved reading about George using her judo skills on the villains. When the trip was being planned, Nancy tells Ned that since he and the boys aren’t going on the trip, they would rely on George. And they did. Homegirl can kick some ass! 

Overall, a good mystery with a decent story. 

Nancy Drew (#43): The Mystery of the 99 Steps by Carolyn Keene

Written by: Harriet Adams (1966)

Carson Drew is in Paris, doing a bit of investigative work. He has been hired by worried friends of Monsieur LeBlanc, a wealthy businessman, to find out why he is selling all his securities and buying diamonds. Mr. Drew needs Nancy’s help so he invites his daughter and her friends on the trip. Which is wonderful for Nancy as she has a mystery of her own to solve. River Heights resident, Mrs. Josette Blair, has suffered a great family misfortune and has been recently plagued by nightmares. All she can recall, is that it has to do with her early childhood in Paris and 99 steps. What 99 steps, and how does that tie with the dream? Well, that’s what Nancy has to figire out.

Phew! Okay. We’re in Paris, France!! 

Um, Nancy’s mystery is fascinating. She doesn’t really have any clues to go on but she still manages to find a connection between her case and her father’s. Now, Mr. Drew’s case is, well, uh, ridiculous. Monsieur LeBlanc is being duped pretty much. Someone has made him believe that he can turn anything into gold, making LeBlanc panic because currency is backed by gold and so he starts buying up diamonds. Honestly, his greed got the better of him. 

So… the girls speak fluent french. Qui convient, n’est-ce pas? They do a lot of sightseeing which ya’ll know are my favorite parts. I’ve been to Paris before, so it was like I was there once again. They discuss the history of some of the places they visit. Loved it. 

While in Paris, Nancy meets Henri Durant. To quote Bess: “Frenchman. Mmm!” ooh lala haha. Oh, and where’s Ned you ask? I don’t know!! He was never mentioned! Should I worry? Even when he doesn’t appear, he’s at least mentioned in passing by someone. But not this time! 

Anyway, Nancy and the police capture one of the culprits right before she leaves River Heights. This doesn’t lessen the danger she faces in Paris though. She’s in a car accident, nearly drowned (Henri rescues her), her brakes are cut, and an innocent dog is drugged! 

In conclusion, this was a really great mystery! 

Nancy Drew (#42): The Phantom of Pine Hill by Carolyn Keene

Written by: Harriet Adams (1965)

Nancy, Bess and George are planning to spend a week in Emerson with the boys. But their motel reservations fall through and the girls are left stranded. Ned, finds lodging for them at John Rorick’s mansion and informs Nancy about a phantom haunting the home.

So… *giggles nervously* the mystery is good. Not only does Nancy have to figure out who the phantom is but she has to find a missing centuries old treasure. The problem with the story is… everything else.

Rorick is a descendant of the early settlers in Emerson. But apparently the Native American tribe massacred most of the early settlers. Nobody is sure why. Well, until Nancy figures it out. Anyway, Emerson College is having a week of celebrations, and in one event, a river pageant, they present the history of the area. This is where things get problematic. Ned and some other students, dress up as Native Americans and “kidnap” Nancy. (That’s my boy Ned on the cover btw. Welp). They then proceed to “speak” like Native Americans (i.e. They sound like The Chief in Peter Pan). Which is of course, so damn disrespectful. I read through those parts quickly, but the cringe-factor was real.
Later on, when the mystery is winding down, Nancy decides it’s a good idea to dig in an old Native American campground. Sigh. My Anthro heart could not take this. The girls are picking up arrowheads, and ugh just messing up the area! Only when they dig up a skeleton do they think “hey, we should call the proper authorities“. When one of the local Emerson professors shows up, he tells them, “oh, I was going to conduct a dig here“. Well, you’re out of luck dude, because Nancy and friends have screwed the whole thing up. Ahhh!!
Okay. Okay. The mystery? Interesting. For a second there even Nancy believes the culprit may be a real ghost. It all actually comes together quite well and no one is kidnapped by bad guys. So, yay! But, like I said everything else is a big pile of yikes. By today’s standards, this book is a culturally insensitive trainwreck. 

A Double Dose of Nancy Drew #5

The penultimate installment of A Double Dose of Nancy Drew! We’re getting closer and closer to #56!! Although, I do own other Nancy Drew books that go past the original set. We’ll see what I do haha. 

Now, on to Nancy’s adventures!

The Moonstone Castle Mystery (Nancy Drew #40) 

Written by: Harriet Adams (1963)

Nancy’s father, Carson Drew, is hired by a couple that recently returned from doing missionary work in Africa, to help locate their missing granddaughter. Mr. And Mrs. Bowen were kidnapped for 14 years while doing their missionary work and have only been recently released. Before embarking on their journey, they left 4 year old Joanie with her other grandmother, Mrs. Horton. But it seems that grandmother passed away shortly thereafter and the little girl has been missing ever since. Something unbeknownst to the Bowens until they return. It is Nancy’s job to try to find out what happened to the little girl. 

Phew! Okay now this was an interesting case. The missing little girl would now be about 18 years old. Trying to find her is difficult as it seems no one in the grandmother’s hometown knows she even existed. And because it’s been so long, they don’t really know what she would look like. 

Also, the grandmother that passed away left everything to Joanie. But someone impersonated her and stole the fortune. So Nancy also has to figure out who claimed an inheritance that wasn’t theirs to claim. 

Favorite quote:

“More than one person may come back to get the moonstone back. And if they’re husky men, we wouldn’t stand a chance.” George looked at her cousin disdainfully. “Why not? We’re not weaklings!”

Brava, George!

This is one of the books I remember reading as a kid. Couldn’t recall the details of the story but I did remember the cover. My friend let me borrow it and I really liked the castle so I did a drawing of it. (Which is thankfully no longer in existence because I am no artiste haha). 

I really enjoyed this mystery! Parts of it actually read like a thriller that would be published today. Or maybe a Law and Order episode? And reading about how Nancy happens upon a clue is always fun. Especially when there’s a castle involved!

The Clue of the Whistling Bagpipes (Nancy Drew #41) 

Nancy has to search for her own inheritance in Scotland.

Written by: Harriet Adams (1964)

Okay, Okay, there’s more to it than that haha. Nancy’s maternal grandmother, who lives in Scotland, has a family heirloom that she wants to give to her. The problem is, it has gone missing. Conveniently, Nancy’s father has business to conduct in Scotland, so Nancy is able to search for clues to her missing heirloom. 

Now, that’s not the only mystery she has to solve. Before she leaves, Ned jokingly tells her about an article he read. The article states that herds of sheep are being stolen in Scotland and nobody seems to know how or why. This being Nancy though, she ends up solving this case and finding her heirloom all while getting in touch with her Scottish roots.

A funny thing about this story is that Nancy becomes famous. She always tries to keep a low-profile because she’s a detective. If everyone knows who she is, it makes it harder to find clues. Well, it turns out that Bess entered a photograph of Nancy into a photography contest. The prize is two tickets to anyplace in the world. She wins, and initially wants to give the second ticket to Nancy. But she insists she give it to George instead so all 3 friends can travel to Scotland together. Anyway, the photograph is published in an international magazine so everyone in Scotland pretty much recognizes her. 

I should also mention that there is a gruesome scene. The girls stumble a sheep massacre. Rather dark for a Nancy Drew book.

Final Thoughts

Two really great mysteries I liked for different reasons. One because of its mystery and the other because of the traveling. Nancy and her friends visit many tourist spots in Scotland. (Which is always fun). And we learn more about Nancy’s history. Her mom passed away from a sudden illness and she has Scottish ancestry. Very interesting to read about. 

Nancy Drew (#39): The Clue of the Dancing Puppet by Carolyn Keene

Written by: Harriet Adams (1962)

Nancy is asked by a theater director to help him get to the bottom of a strange occurrence at his estate. It seems that a human-sized puppet keeps appearing, dancing on its own, no strings or puppeteer in sight. 

Yeah, the whole dancing puppet thing kind of freaked me out haha. Nancy is able to figure out how it works though. Some kind of mechanical contraption. Duh. Still. I’d be freaked out if I saw one of those on my lawn. 

Now, the mystery is set primarily at an estate, where an amateur acting group performs. As it turns out, Bess is a part of the group. Nancy and George join as backdrop painters to have better access to the mystery. 

There are A LOT of Shakespeare references in this book. One of the group members is some kind of Shakespearean actor so he is always quoting from one of the plays. And I mean, always. Some of them went over my head, but luckily Nancy and friends are well-versed in the Bard. 

Overall, the mystery was okay. It was pretty straight forward and you have a good idea of who may be responsible. The why, however, isn’t resolved until the end. That part was a bit of a letdown. Although, I must say, George is quickly becoming my favorite character. At one point, she goes off on the main actress, and I was here for it! (The actress was incredibly rude to them). 

Here’s hoping the next one is a little more exciting!