Nancy Drew Mystery Stories

by Carolyn Keene

Unconditional Recommendation: Nancy Drew is an amateur detective whose kind heart, resourcefulness, and dedication to solving mysteries for the benefit of others make her a role model character.

Age: Middle Grade
Series: Original series: 56 titles
Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap (1930, rev. 1959)
Genre: Mystery


I loved Nancy Drew when I was in elementary school and having read it recently, I find that I still enjoy it today. It’s almost a relief to be able to satisfy my mystery craving without having psychological horror or gruesome violence in the mix. Some may call it a fault but I found the predictability of the plot lines enjoyable; like macaroni and cheese—loved it in childhood and though my palette has grown since then, today I still love the simple goodness of gooey cheese and noodles. It’s a classic! Nancy Drew: the mac and cheese of mystery.

It’s delightful to find a book you love and then to discover that it is part of a series so you don’t have to mourn the loss of the world or characters just yet. Nancy Drew never ran out when I was binge reading her back then, but I recently looked up exactly how many books there are and holy buckets!! The original series published by Grosset & Dunlap has 56 titles, the next publisher, Simon & Schuster, brought that number up to 175! One-hundred-and-seventy-five!! I’m going to say it again: HOLY BUCKETS! And that’s not counting the many series that followed: Nancy Drew: All-New Girl Detective has 47 titles, 21 graphic novels, The Nancy Drew Files boasts 124 titles and the latest series, Nancy Drew Diaries, is currently at 11 but has two more scheduled for release in 2016. I’m not one to do math for fun but I was too curious—the grand total is 380 books. This is where my eyes bugged out of my head. Granted, Nancy Drew has been written by a variety of authors all using the same pseudonym, Carolyn Keene, but still…I think those numbers are impressive!

Okay, numbers aside, I have enjoyed Nancy Drew because her character is good and kind, as are her family and friends. I love tagging along with her as she seeks to help people and is driven, for better or for worse, by her curious nature to chase after clues to solve mysteries. It’s just plain entertaining and fun to get in her roadster and go along for the ride.

Lately, the YA fiction I’ve been reading has had main characters that don’t have a lick of sense! They do not ask questions and go searching for answers to their mysteries much less the mysteries of others. I love Nancy Drew because she is smart, sensible and doesn’t stop at asking questions. She is active, resourceful, and selfless—taking on mysteries and making sacrifices so that she can help others. Nancy is responsible, has a moral compass, and is considerate of those around her, especially her loved ones. Nancy is forever keeping in touch with her lawyer dad, Carson Drew, and their housekeeper, Hannah Gruen. The concern and care for others displayed by the characters in these books is so wonderful and nowadays so rare—in the real world and in young adult fiction—that I get refreshed every time I visit River Heights. I feel I must say it: Nancy Drew is a role model.

I have only read a handful of the original series in the last few months, though I think I read nearly all of them in elementary school. I have not read any of the other Nancy Drew series, partly because I didn’t know they existed until yesterday…but don’t be surprised if you see more Nancy Drew on my blog down the road! If you haven’t met Nancy, first—where on earth have you been?? Second, I think you have something to gain by spending time with her! The books are fast-paced and I found that you cannot skim or skip sentences because there is no space spent on long descriptions. It’s all action and you need to read every sentence lest you end up totally lost when Nancy is speaking to Hannah in the Drew kitchen when you thought she was cruising through River Heights. Yes, I did that. Also, the chapters are pretty formulaic and I had a tough time keeping my eyes off the last page of the chapter because every single time the last sentence was some sort of cliff hanger. Every time. Of course, I failed and read the last sentence only to go back and speed read everything leading up to it. Ha! Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Nancy and I hope you do too.

For everything Nancy Drew including lists, fun info, and synopses of all the books and every series visit the website of one of her writer’s:

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