The Secret of the Old Clock, by Carolyn Keene

Man. I don’t think that getting through 56 of these books is going to be very difficult; I tore through this in less than two hours! I’ve requested the next one from the library in audiobook form; it’ll take longer to get through but I’ll be able to listen to it on my commute! Genius!

I mentioned on the Twitter that “I swear the Nancy Drew books were less hokey when I was six,” which is obviously not true but it certainly seems that way! Take, for example, the first two paragraphs of this little book:

“Nancy Drew, an attractive girl of eighteen, was driving home along a country road in her new, dark-blue convertible. She had just delivered some legal papers for her father.

“‘It was sweet of Dad to give me this car for my birthday,’ she thought. ‘And it’s fun to help him in his work.'”

Oh, dear. Luckily, once I remembered that I initially read these books starting when I was six and that therefore I could not expect terribly complex writing, I was mostly able to ignore how formal/stilted/duh the narrative was.

If you’ve never read this (shame on you!), the story is thus: Nancy Drew, an attractive girl of eighteen, has a lawyer father who lets her help out with some work he does. One day, after delivering some legal papers for her father, she rescues a girl who has fallen off a bridge (no, really) and returns her to her guardians, who, in 1930s fashion, are delightful and hospitable and go telling all their business to random teenagers who rescue small children. Nancy learns that the family was thisclose to getting some inheritance money, but the will they thought existed never turned up and some bratty rich family is getting the entire estate instead. Nancy, ever the optimist, sets out to see if the dead guy, Crowley, really did write another will.

That’s… pretty much the whole idea. Nancy finds some clues, goes looking for a clock, gets locked in a closet, finds the clock, and [spoiler alert?] saves the day. It was exciting when I was six!

I wish I could have read this book in the original 30s version; I know that the books were rewritten in the 60s much like Goosebumps and the Baby-Sitters Club books are being today and it would be interesting to see what the “real” Nancy Drew is like. But definitely this Nancy is a decent female role model — although her outfits and appearance are often mentioned for no apparent reason except to tell us how pretty she is, never in this book is she derided for being a girl or for being too young. She helps out several families and interacts with the police on a few occasions, and everyone just goes right along with it. I love that. What’s crazy is that according to Wikipedia, which knows all, people felt that the “real” Nancy was much more outspoken and authoritative. How do I get my hands on one of those, outside of finding a will conveniently hidden in an old clock?

Rating: 8/10
(Nancy Drew Challenge, A to Z Challenge, Flashback Challenge, Support Your Local Library Challenge)

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Nancy Drew Challenge


I don’t know about you, but I was once obsessed with a certain girl sleuth. I have definitely read all of the books for this challenge already, but they are totally worth reading again (and they’re short, so it shouldn’t be too hard)!

The goal here is to read all 56 yellow hardcover versions of the Nancy Drew stories by the end of 2010. I’ll plop them here in this post as I read them!

1. The Secret of the Old Clock (Review)
2. The Hidden Staircase (Review)
3. The Bungalow Mystery (Review)
4. The Mystery at Lilac Inn (Review)
5. The Secret of Shadow Ranch (Review)
6. The Secret of Red Gate Farm (Review)
7. The Clue in the Diary (Review)
8. Nancy’s Mysterious Letter (Review)
9. The Sign of the Twisted Candles (Review)
10. Password to Larkspur Lane (Review)
11. The Clue of the Broken Locket (Review)