Friday, December 22, 2023

The Quest of the Missing Map

 The Quest of the Missing Map (1942) by Carolyn Keene

The case of Nancy Drew and the expanding mystery: Nancy's involvement in this one starts with Hannah Gruen. Hannah introduces Nancy to Ellen Smith, daughter of the family where Hannah served as housekeeper before coming to the Drews. Ellen is now around Nancy's age and attending a music school. Her family's fortunes have taken a down-turn and she's considering taking a position as a piano teacher to Trixie Chatham. But Ellen has some qualms about the house where Mrs. Chatham (a widow) and her daughter live--as well as Mrs. Chatham's attitude towards her daughter. She wanted Hannah to come with her to meet Mrs. Chatham, but Hannah suggests that she take Nancy instead.

The vibes are definitely off at the Chatham house. And it doesn't help that Trixie says that the studio where her mother's first husband's possessions are stored is haunted. There's a man with fierce staring eyes who appears and disappears. Nancy is sure she can show the little girl that her fears are misplaced, but Nancy experiences some odd things in the studio. First, there is a piano that won't play...and then does. While Nancy's trying to figure that out, a hidden panel opens and a menacing voice tells her to "Leave here at once and never come back!" So, Nancy tells Ellen to ask for time to make a decision about the position to give her a chance to investigate.

Then Ellen tells Nancy that her father has a mystery that needs solving as well and takes her to meet him. Mr. Tomlin Smith was one of twin boys who had a sea-faring captain as a father. Before he died in an accident to his ship, Captain Tomlin gave the boys each one half of a map which he said would lead to treasure. The boys were put in separate lifeboats and never saw one another again. Mr. Tomlin Smith was eventually adopted by a family names Smith, but always wanted to try and find his brother. Now he'd like Nancy to help him.

Nancy's investigations into the Chatham and Tomlin mysteries lead her into several encounters with a gang of criminals determined to find the two pieces of the map and make off with the treasure themselves. Nancy is kidnapped, hit over the head, crowned queen of a dance, and makes the discovery of hidden passages--all on her way to finding all the clues to the treasure. But the criminals seem to be a step ahead...will Nancy, her friends, and the Tomlin families be in time to save the treasure from the bad guys? Well...this is a Nancy Drew story, so what do you think?

This is another of the Nancy Drew series that I remember enjoying well enough when I was young, but it wasn't one of the favorites that I read again and again. I'm not entirely sure why. There's all kinds of action; there are secret passages and hidden treasure maps and creepy "ghosts" and a real-live treasure hunt and Ned gets to do a rescue and... But somehow all that action just didn't add up to the kind of excitement I found in The Clue of the Broken Locket or The Clue of the Dancing Puppet or any of the others I loved to reread. And reading it now, I can't blame my younger self. It's a perfectly good Nancy Drew story. Nothing wrong with it, but it definitely doesn't rank among the best of them. ★★

First line: Golden hair flying in the wind, Nancy Drew ran up the porch steps and let herself into the front door of her home.

Last line: The adventure was at an end.


Deaths = 3 (one drowned; two natural)


Rick Mills said...

Just love the cover artwork from that era of Nancy Drew! It has all the elements of the story.

Bev Hankins said...

Yes, these covers are great. I wish I had the dustjacket, but I was glad to find a copy in the tweed-style to go with those that I had gotten from my mom.