Book review: The Secret in the Old Attic (Nancy Drew #21)

I used to love Nancy Drew. A lot. When I was 9 years old, I read all of the Nancy Drew books that were in my elementary school’s library. So, I was really excited to pick this book up again to see if it withstood the test of time.

It did not.

The description in the beginning of the book: “Nancy Drew races against time to unravel the clues in a dead man’s letters.”

Me: Umm…wait there were letters? Oh yeah. At the beginning of the book. And they couldn’t figure out what they were about. I think these letters should probably have been edited out of the book since they really weren’t that important.

Description: “If she succeeds, Philip March and his little granddaughter can be saved from financial ruin. Following the obscure clues, Nancy undertakes a search for some unpublished musical manuscripts which she believes are hidden in the dark, cluttered attic of the rundown March mansion.”

Me: Actually, Philip March tells her that her son wrote music and she searches the house for the music sheets and ends up in the attic after giving up on the rest of the house. And, of course, if she finds the music, Mr. March will  instantly become rich because the music is just that good. A lot of time is spent searching the attic. By candlelight (because there are no lights and she forgot her flashlight–wait, why couldn’t she wait until she got her flashlight again?).

Description: “It takes courage and ingenuity for the alert young detective to discover the significance of the skeleton with the upraised arm and to find the source of the spooky sounds of music in the old attic.”

Me: The presence of the skeleton was not explained properly. Here is the explanation:

“We found a skeleton in the wardrobe,” Nancy explained. “It startled us.”

Mr. March slowly climbed to the attic and went toward the open wardrobe.

“Oh that!” he said in relief. “I’d forgotten all about it. Fact is, I didn’t know Fipp had put it in the closet.”

The elderly man then explained that the skeleton originally had been brought there by a young medical student, a cousin of Fipp’s.

“You know how boys are,” he added with a chuckle. “They used this skeleton on Halloween, and never did take it away.”

Having been a young medical student, I can assure you that we did not have access to human skeletons for our own personal use. There were human bones in anatomy lab, but we used them to learn. Not to steal for playing with. And we certainly didn’t own them. Can you imagine actually stealing real human bones for Halloween?  Well, “you know how boys are…”

Description: “…Startling developments await Nancy when she aids her lawyer father in doing some detective work on a case involving a stolen formula for a unique silk-making process.”

Me: Yes. There is a weird side-plot involving making silk using black widow spiders. Very weird.

Okay, you get the picture. Basically the story feels like a mishmash of strange, completely unbelievable events and Nancy comes across as goody-two-shoes know-it-all while all the adults in the situation are completely useless. *sigh* I really wanted to like this book. Especially after noticing that it was written in 1944 by a woman named Mildred Wirt Benson (under the pen name Carolyn Keene). She seems to have written many many books under various pen names. Wow.

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7 Responses to Book review: The Secret in the Old Attic (Nancy Drew #21)

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  2. Yamini says:

    Hilarious review! I laughed and woke leela up.

  3. Ansha Kotyk says:

    Great post. I’m trying to think of the books I read as a child and trying them out again to see if they hold up. Although I think I read a great deal of adult books as a kid… I did read all of the Little House on the Prairie books… maybe I’ll try those out again… see what happens!
    I did watch some reruns (1969 I think) of ScoobyDoo. with my daughter… and my goodness are they bad! :)

  4. Debra says:

    Interesting idea! I think fondly of my favorite books from childhood and have re-read most of the Nancy Drews with my daughter in the 1990’s. I did not have the same reaction as you, but then variety is the spice of life. Yes some of those plots are contrived but then we now have too many books that are just plotless altogether! Did you review the 1944 edition? Or a current one? As each round of editions were printed, editors modernized a bit and there is quite a difference between the original versions, which typically predate 1970, and particularly those editions published in the 1980’s (which are identifiable by their book cover look). I recall my niece telling me they had been rewritten to read “like Harlequin romances” and she was so disappointed!

  5. amitha says:

    I read the edition of the book that is in the photo. The info page just says the book is “Copyright 1970, 1944” and doesn’t mention any revisions.

    This book doesn’t have any romance thankfully. :)

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  7. suzzie says:

    please this is a very good book

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