Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Nancy Drew Mystery Stories #1: The Secret of the Old Clock (1930)

Let's go all the way back to the very beginning with the very first Nancy Drew book ever!

Nancy is just your average 16 year old girl with a housekeeper named Hannah and a lawyer father named Carson Drew. When she hears that local man Josiah Crowley just passed away, she's not that interested until she learns that he supposedly promised a lot of people some of his money. His relatives, the Tophams, claimed that he left them everything because they took care of him, even though they actually only took care of him for a few months towards the end.

Nancy learns about the mystery surrounding a will that he may or may not have written when she almost runs over a little girl in the street. She takes the girl back to her caretakers, who tell her that they took the girl in after her mother died. They thought Josiah would leave them enough to care for her, but the only will ever found left nothing to them. The two women also reveal that someone stole their silver candlesticks and some other expensive antiques, which they blame on the nice young men who recently bought some of their old furniture.

Though Nancy hops in her car and gives chase, she can't catch up with the guys in the moving van. All she can really do is tell the police what happened. After hearing about other people who were left out of the will, she goes to her dad. There's an older woman who can barely afford to keep her house, two brothers who were close to Josiah, and two old friends of his family. Nancy and Carson check with the judge who read the will. He also heard of a second will but has no idea if it was true.

Two of the women who claim they were in the original will tell her that Josiah had a bad habit of hiding things all around his house. Their best guess at where he hid his will was in an old antique clock. She runs into her old friend Helen, who asks her to buy tickets to a charity ball and then invites her to her family's summer camp for the week. Nancy turns down her invitation but agrees to sell the last few tickets for her.

She really only uses that as an excuse to visit the Topham house again. It turns out that she went to school with the daughters but always disliked them. They're money grubbers who only care about gossip and getting ahead in life. Their mom is exactly the same way and seems eager to buy tickets to the ball because she thinks it will make her look good. Nancy takes a look around for the clock and learns that they sent it to their summer cabin.

After consulting with Carson, Nancy heads up to see Helen and to find out how close the Topham house is to the cabin. The Topham girls told her that they have a caretaker looking over the house who could give her a tour. She sneaks across the lake in a boat, only to have the engine die and leave her stranded for hours. When she finally does get to the cabin, she finds the guys with the moving van cleaned out the house.

That doesn't stop her from snooping around though. When they nearly catch her, she manages to hide and find the missing clock. They really do catch her later but just lock her in a closet. The caretaker shows up and after briefly thinking she's one of the robbers using a fake voice, he finally lets her out. She finds a notebook hidden inside the clock written by Josiah that states he had a last will hidden in a safety deposit box.

The judge, Carson, and Nancy find the safety deposit box, and the cops find enough evidence to arrest all the robbers and get the women back their missing things. Carson decides to read the will with everyone in attendance. The Topham family show up and act super snotty until they find out that Josiah only left them a flat $5,000 and nothing for their girls. The rest of the money goes to everyone else, who gets between 10 and 20% of his estate, which is around $10,000 to $20,000. That was some serious money back in the day!

The Tophams immediately claim that the will is a fake and that they will fight it. Everyone else is just happy that they got something. Carson recommends that they use the money to do anything and everything they always wanted to do and instantly hands over the cash. In the very end, we learn that the Topham case was thrown out of court and that everyone really did get their money.

*This just might be the very first time I ever read the first book in the series! I probably read it as a kid, so I had no memories of it. I have to say that I'm probably more fond of the 80s and 90s books. This one didn't really have a lot of suspects or a lot of action.

*A ghostwriter revised the book in the 1950s and removed a cute scene where the robbers were drinking illegally. The book originally came out in 1930 during Prohibition when they couldn't drink.


  1. Ah, the very first one. Its really amazing how long Nancy Drew has been around.