Wednesday, June 13, 2018

By the Light of the Study Lamp: Review

I read a couple of Dana Girls mysteries when I was young (and those books are packed in a box somewhere)--but I really couldn't tell you a thing about them, unlike the Nancy Drew books I read. So when I saw a few titles on one of our antique mall expeditions, I decided to get them and give the girls another try. By the Light of the Study Lamp (1934) was one of the books I picked up--a good place to start since it's the first of the series.

In their first adventure, Louise and Jean receive a surprise present from their Uncle Ned--a beautiful antique study lamp that they plan to use when they return to Starhurst (their boarding school). But not long after they open the present, the lamp is stolen from their home. The girls are disappointed and arrive at Starhurst in a subdued mood, but are heartened when Mrs. Crandall, the head of the school tell them that they have been assigned the second-floor study room that they had requested the previous term. Their good fortune earns them an enemy in Lettie Briggs, a spoiled rich girl who had set her sights on that very room. Later, they cross her again when they spy a lamp that looks like their stolen present in a local antique shop and buy it. [Lettie had been in the shop earlier, wanted the lamp, but thought the price too high.]

It winds up that their lamp...and their study the center of an old mystery. Their friend Evelyn Starr used to live at Starhurst--when her family was wealthy and owned the property. But misfortune struck, the family jewels were lost, and Evelyn's brother can barely afford to send his sister to the school in their old home. There are clues to be found in the study and the Danas are led through a maze of crooked shopkeepers, crafty gypsies, and a suspicious handyman before they solve the mystery and come to the aid of their friend.

The Dana Girls are obviously molded in the pattern of Nancy Drew (though they are orphans and don't have a wealthy father to provide all their needs). The mystery is very like those solved by Nancy and the girls show the same resourcefulness and independence. This is a fun, simple mystery from a simpler time. I will say that I don't particularly care for the "mean girls" story line--where Lettie is set up as their rival and enemy. I just don't think that particular angle works well and it definitely is unnecessary. If this remains a prominent story element, then I'm not sure how many Dana Girls I will pick up (and read) in the future. ★★

[Finished 5/25/18]

1 comment:

Tarissa said...

Might be a fun series to try. Great review!