Monday, June 19, 2017

The Secret of the Wooden Lady: Review

Captain Easterly has made his home on an old clipper ship by the name of the Bonny Scot. He's been renting her, but he'd like to buy her outright and asks Carson Drew to help him find a clear title for the ship so it can be purchased. But a missing title isn't the only trouble the old sea captain has been having--he has been hearing mysterious noises on his boat and he's sure he's got intruders. Mr. Drew asks Nancy to come to the Boston area with him to help clear up the mysteries. But before they can leave, someone breaks into Bess Marvin's home and steals her parents jewelry. Nancy quickly finds a few clues that point the police in the direction of a known jewel thief. And Bess and her cousin George Fayne wind up joining Nancy and her father on the seaside adventure.

Then in the bayside town where the Bonny Scot lies in harbor, Nancy spies the jewel thief. Why has he followed the girls to Boston? Nancy and the girls take up residence on the ship to search for clues that might help Mr. Drew find a clear title as well as to find out how the intruders can get off and on the vessel without being seen. The clues they find lead them to believe that the Bonny Scot had been re-christened and if they can discover the ship's original name and find her lovely figurehead the mystery may be solved...and a treasure may be found. Their every move seems to be monitored and they face more thefts, a fire, and the Captain is kidnapped. But Nancy's nose for secrets leads her to the right answers and Mr. Drew and the police show up just in time to capture the crooks when Nancy flushes them out.

I was a faithful fan of Nancy Drew from the moment my mom gave me her six-volume set of tweed-covered mysteries. Most of the collection I had till recent years were the re-vamped, shortened yellow-spine editions from the 1970s (and sometimes these came with totally changed plots). Over the last three years or so, I have been working on getting my hands on tweed-covered versions (where available) with the original 25 chapters rather than the 20-chaptered later versions. So--while I have read this title before, I haven't read this particular edition and version. 

The Secret of the Wooden Lady wasn't, I have to admit, one of my favorite Nancys when I read them back in the day. I may have read it twice, possibly three times where I read my favorites over and over. All that to say--I don't remember the details well enough to know what exactly the newer version has left out or changed. I do know that despite the dust jacket making it seem that there is an auburn/redhead, a dark brunette, and a brown-haired girl--at least one of those girls should be blond. This 1950 edition definitely says that Nancy is blond with blue eyes (unlike the titian-haired young woman in the 70s). 

This story has a lot of action--mostly for Nancy. I was a bit disappointed that George and Bess show up to "help" Nancy (and even Ned, Burt and Dave put in an appearance), but then the cousins and their special dates spend more time off having fun than actually helping Nancy. Ned is loyal to his girl and helps her investigate while he's there--but the others just want to swim and go to restaurants. The whole gang do have an adventure sailing the clipper to try and escape the intruders, but that's about it. When Nancy comes back from various sleuthing excursions, George keeps saying, "You should have told me." But she knows Nancy has adventures--she ought to know that if she wants to be involved in them, then she needs to stick with Nancy and not let Bess talk her into a swim. My memories of the stories had George (as the tom-boy) being a lot more adventurous and involved than this particular novel indicates. Will definitely have to read more and see if she's more consistently involved.

Overall, a fun adventure. Nancy reads a lot into very little and manages to come up with the right answers--a system that worked well for me as seven-year-old, but as an adult, the clues seem a little thin. Fortunately, the fun and nostalgia factor more than make up for it and I give this a solid ★★ rating--much as I think I would have when I first read the newer version.

This counts for the "Statue" category on the Golden Vintage Scavenger Hunt card. "Wood" = brown for the Color Coded Reading Challenge.

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