The Secret of the Old Clock – Carolyn Keene

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

The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

The Secret of the Old Clock is the first book that Carolyn Keene wrote in the Nancy Drew series. It was originally published in 1930, but although the feel of the story might be a little dated, overall it has stood the test of time. While young adult readers today might not understand why Nancy wouldn’t just pull out her cellphone to take a picture of a clue or phone the police – I believe that it would take them only a short while to find themselves fully engaged in the story.

I recall, as a child, visiting my grandmother’s house every week over the summer. She used to have a collection of Nancy Drew books (which she has since given to me) that I would eagerly devour each day. Although she didn’t have the entire collection, I would pick one or two from the shelf, climb up into a tree in the yard, and just read for the rest of the day. Yet, I don’t recall having ever read the Secret of the Old Clock, as her series began with number three, so it was nice to experience this story for the first time.

The edition that I read, I believe, was the re-written edition that was published about 25 years after the original story was written. It has a number of differences from what I gleaned from my research and changed Nancy’s characterization to a large degree. I have feelings of nostalgia for this series, so it’s harder to read this book and glean how modern teens might take to it. It is my opinion though that they would enjoy the series, even if this first book is not the best one to start with.

Nancy Drew is a kind, yet tenacious character. She feels deeply for the plights of others and will do what she can to help them, if she deems them worthy of help. Those that she finds are undeserving will not find her a gentle shoulder to lean upon, but rather a thorn in their sides. It was an interesting dichotomy in her character that I feel will appeal to readers, as it makes her more believable. There was a small moment in the book that I felt was so forgettable as a plot point, yet important to her character – when Nancy Drew changed her own flat tire. It just showed how self-sufficient and intelligent that she was, which I really appreciated.

Although this story is a mystery, I didn’t feel as though it was written in a way that the readers could attempt to solve it with Nancy Drew. They were just taken along for the ride. Although there were some very convenient moments of clue dropping and invitations to places that Nancy just happened to need to go, which challenged the reader’s suspension of disbelief, overall the plot and pacing were engaging. The book made me want to re-read the series and discover if her mystery plotting improved over time to give the readers the ability to really take part.

Despite this story’s age, I still feel as though it had stood the test of time and will be appealing to modern young adult readers. While it is not as intricate a mystery as some, it is an enjoyable read.

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