Book Reviews,  Classics,  Detective and Mystery,  Middle Grade

Book Review: The Secret of the Old Clock

The Secret of the Old Clock (Nancy Drew Mystery Stories, #1)The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When I was eight, I discovered a secret at my Gramma’s house. Behind her huge console television, there was a bookcase built into the living room wall. I had to squeeze my way back there – the TV was on an angle, thus leaving a small triangle of space to sit in – but it was worth the hassle. Those shelves were filled with first edition hardback books from the 1920s and 1930s. “The Secret of the Old Clock” was one of a dozen or so Nancy Drew mysteries I found back there. With Gramma’s permission, and after promising to treat the ancient books kindly, I read them all.

When I ran out of Nancy Drews on Gramma’s shelf, my parents let me purchase the next book in the series on our twice-a-month excursions to Sears. I can’t begin to express how excited I’d get, anxious to get home and devour my newest book.

All these decades later, I’m still an avid reader, and I have Nancy Drew to thank for being one of my influences. A few days ago, I decided on a whim to re-read the first book in the series. Was it as exciting as the first time around?

Well, to be honest, no. As an author and a professional editor myself these days, I found the writing to be clumsy, and the storyline in dire need of some reorganizing. And please, less mentioning of a ‘second will’. We get hammered repeatedly over the head with reminders of what’s being hunted!

Nancy herself is a charming young girl, who has every advantage in life. She drives her own roadster, has more leisure time than there are actual hours in a day, lives in a home with her successful lawyer father and a doting housekeeper. Her mother, we’re told, died years ago. Luckily her status hasn’t gone to her head. She has a big heart and sincerely enjoys helping people.

The mystery IS interesting, and I found myself rooting for the jerks to get what was coming to them, and for the nice people to be rewarded for being lovely.

Younger me accepted the story at her own level, and loved it dearly. Older me still loves the book, but with reservations. I know the series gets better, so I may dabble with a few more from up the timeline.

The fact that I’m writing my own mystery story is all thanks to Nancy Drew. My lifelong love of mysteries, secrets, hidden passages, codes, treasures… it all started with this book. How can I not love it after what it’s done for me?

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Lori Alden Holuta lives between the cornfields of Mid-Michigan, where she grows vegetables and herbs when she’s not writing, editing, or playing games with a cat named Chives.

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