Saturday, November 10, 2012

E-Reading: Book Review of #5 The Secret of Shadow Ranch by Carolyn Keene

Name of Book: The Secret of Shadow Ranch

Author: Carolyn Keene

ISBN: 9780006925262

Publisher: Grosset and Dunlap

Part of a Series: Nancy Drew Series

Type of book: Western, cowboys, ghosts, 1900s, mystery, young adult

Year it was published: 1931


Nancy drew arrives in Phoenix, Arizona, eagerly looking forward to a fun-filled vacation at Shadow Ranch, but abruptly finds herself involved in a baffling mystery. The ranch is being haunted by a phantom horse and maliciously damaged by an unknown enemy. Local people believe that the ghostly animal is carrying out the curse of Dirk Valentine, the romantic outlaw who was killed many years ago at Shadow Ranch, where he had gone to fulfill a promise to his sweetheart.

Suspecting that a treasure hidden by Valentine may be at the root of the Shadow Ranch mystery, Nancy undertakes a challenging search, aided by her friends Bess Marvin and George Fayne. The first vital clue is found in an antique watch and sparks a series of clever deductions and dangerous developments. While seeking further clues, the girls' investigation in a ghost town ends in a near disaster when Nancy is trapped inside a building that is toppled by a rockslide - a rockslide which is deliberately caused. But the pretty titian-haired detective remains undaunted in her determination to solve the mystery.


Nancy, as always, is described as someone with deductive reasoning and sharp wit. She and others are also resourceful and survive the pitfalls that beset them, eventually solving the mysteries. I do sometimes wonder at the implausibility of everything fitting in just like puzzle pieces. Bess is described as blond haired and plump and boy crazy. George is dark haired and tomboyish. There is a continuity error of Ned being mentioned, but he doesn't make an appearance until Book 7.


There is no such thing as supernatural.


This is told in third person narrative completely from Nancy's point of view. I found the plot to be implausible and predictable, of course. Nancy's father and housekeeper don't play any parts in this book and as I mentioned, it's an impossible book to believe in. The author tries to make it realistic, but for me it didn't work. Weird and unbelievable coincidences along with unbelievable treasure.

Author Information:

Children's Books, Mystery & Thrillers

About this author

Carolyn Keene is a writer pen name that was used by many different people- both men and women- over the years. The company that was the creator of the Nancy Drew series, the Stratemeyer Syndicate, hired a variety of writers. For Nancy Drew, the writers used the pseudonym Carolyn Keene to assure anonymity of the creator.

Edna and Harriet Stratemeyer inherited the company from their father Edward Stratemeyer. Edna contributed 10 plot outlines before passing the reins to her sister Harriet. It was Mildred A. Wirt Benson, who breathed such a feisty spirit into Nancy's character. Mildred wrote 23 of the original 30 Nancy Drew Mystery Stories®, including the first three. It was her characterization that helped make Nancy an instant hit. The Stratemeyer Syndicate's devotion to the series over the years under the reins of Harriet Stratemeyer Adams helped to keep the series alive and on store shelves for each succeeding generation of girls and boys. In 1959, Harriet, along with several writers, began a 25-year project to revise the earlier Carolyn Keene novels. The Nancy Drew books were condensed, racial stereotypes were removed, and the language was updated. In a few cases, outdated plots were completely rewritten.

Other writers of Nancy Drew volumes include Harriet herself, she wrote most of the series after Mildred quit writing for the Syndicate and in 1959 began a revision of the first 34 texts. The role of the writer of "Carolyn Keene" passed temporarily to Walter Karig who wrote three novels during the Great Depression. Also contributing to Nancy Drew's prolific existence were Leslie McFarlane, James Duncan Lawrence, Nancy Axelrod, Priscilla Doll, Charles Strong, Alma Sasse, Wilhelmina Rankin, George Waller Jr., and Margaret Scherf.


Well, I read the 1960s version. I have to admit that the book didn't stick with me and I can't really recall what is it about it that I disliked. I think its the impossibility of the book as well as the fact that good looking guys are always good and bad ones are always bad. Bess and George, Nancy's sidekicks, finally make their appearance, and in this book, if I'm not mistaken, she's described as titian-blond. I looked it up, and it means that she has red hair mixed with blond. It's not mentioned as to what happened to Helen Corning, Nancy's friend from books 1?-4. The resolution is too pat and it's not a memorable book at all, at least for me.

2 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)


  1. what is the conflict of the story? can you help me? I cannot find time to read the book. thank you very much


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