Nancy Drew Bungalow Mystery cover

Nancy Unravels Dark Secrets and Hidden Identities

Author: Carolyn Keene 

Nancy Drew, beloved female heroine for multiple generations of feisty girls (starting in the 1930s and continuing up to present day) is faced with danger and mystery yet again! An innocent boating expedition nearly ends in fatality, but fortunately Nancy and her friend Helen are rescued by a strange new girl who braves the storm and in consequence, makes some loyal new friends. Laura Pendleton is a plucky yet sensitive girl, still suffering from the loss of her parents. Newly arrived in River Heights, Laura is here to meet her new guardians, but this rich girl turned orphan is hardly safe from the devastation of grief. Her new guardians have designs on her fortune and are more than willing to do whatever it takes – including hiding a horror in the basement of a seemingly desolate lake-side Bungalow.

Meanwhile, as Nancy worries for the safety and sanity of her new friends, Mr. Drew embroils her in a complex bank fraud case. Is it possible that the two overlap? Are the Drews, usually so careful and astute, being pulled into an ever-tightening web of deceit? Can Nancy save both her Father and her lonesome new friend?

The Bungalow Mystery follows the cozy nostalgia of the Nancy Drew series, entwining a homespun aura with some truly tense situations and complex plots. I originally met Nancy when I was around 8 or 9 years when one beautiful spring day my mother gifted me a set of the first ten books. She recalled memories of Nancy’s heroism and the cozy nature of the series from her own childhood and wove such a convincing story that I took the new burnished yellow covers to the center of my Beanie Baby haven and began reading my toys the story of a feisty female detective who combined responsibility and kindness with strength and courage. Nancy soon became a central figure in my reading time with the toys and the first ten books flew by, each becoming better than the last.

Now, hovering at the edge of 30, I still find the series equally as mesmerizing and downright sweet. While the gun touting sleuth of the 1930s was softened in the Flashlight Series made in the 60s (these are the yellow covered books that are available now), Nancy’s mystique combined with an aura of fearlessness creates an effective role model for both children and adults. Just because the series is sweet, with an odd happiness prevailing even during the most traumatic of moments, doesn’t mean that adult audiences won’t get lured into the plot.

Focused on realism, all of the strange and spooky plots are soon revealed as criminal cleverness usually involving some forms of fraud, mistaken identity, and clever acting skills on part of the wily villains. For the most part, each book in the series grows, becoming better than the book before it. Bungalow Mystery is no exception, and keeps the building suspense of the story in line with the characterization of the entire world that makes Nancy Drew so recognizable and so atmospheric.

Similar to The Hidden Staircase which precedes it, and leaves Nancy to fend off some ghosts while solving a separate case with her father, The Bungalow Mystery challenges Nancy with two mysteries at once, which eventually interweave to create a master plot. Nancy’s characterization and the introduction of Laura give readers more than just the cozy nostalgia to go on – we legitimately know and root for the characters and the fear experienced on Laura’s behalf is a catalyst for both readers and Nancy to accept a strange call-to-action. The lovable Hannah Greun (Nancy’s housekeeper) and Carson Drew (Nancy’s father) are strong supporting characters and give readers a sense that Nancy has even more to lose than her life – every action, reaction, and tense gumshoe moment has ramifications for her family’s personal safety and happiness.

As a child, reading Nancy Drew was a cozy and rewarding experience. As an adult, Nancy remains a true friend, a getaway into a realm of kindness and bravery that is mimicable in daily life, and a nostalgic backdrop to those happy days discovering the secret world of books. Bungalow Mystery continues Nancy’s adventures in the most appealing of ways, and once readers finish they will won’t want to quit the Drew’s exciting world. Fortunately, many more Nancy stories remain!

–        Frances Carden

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The Bungalow Mystery (Hardcover)

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Frances Carden

Frances Carden

Frances has a Masters in Fiction Writing from Johns Hopkins and works as a technical writer during the day, where she attempts to make software exciting.
Frances Carden

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