The Clue of the Broken Locket (Nancy Drew Mystery Stories, #11)

After reading the first ten Nancy Drew Original Text and Revised Text books, I finally stumbled on one where the story was completely rewritten. Surprisingly, it wasn’t a good thing.

The Clue of the Broken Locket Original Text (OT) is just a hot mess. The book was written in 1934, and apparently back then there was very little vetting of prospective parents in adoptions. Carson Drew draws up the papers for Johnny and Kitty Blair, who are “show people,” to adopt twins who were found about a year prior, in a dilapidated sinking boat after a storm. The twins are about 14 months old. Carson does not want the Blairs to adopt the children, as he believes they are frivolous people, and as the story unfolds, he is proved right. There are some baby clothes and a broken locket that were found on the children, and are handed over to the Blairs at the time of the adoption. Kitty Blair is going to burn the items so their birth mother can never make a claim on them. Nancy vows to get the items before they are burned, and through some slight of hand, succeeds.

I’ve watched enough Hollywood documentaries to know that back when this book was written, “show people” held the same regard by the populace as prostitutes and gigolos. Mildred Wirt, the ghostwriter, goes out of her way to repeat that not all show people are bad, but the Blairs are. Nancy is desperate to find the mother of these twins so the Blairs will lose custody. A mysterious telegram telling the Drews to not let the adoption happen sets Nancy off on her case

As can only happen in Nancy Drew books, there are a lot of coincidences. It just so happens that a Reverand stops by and tells a tale of a woman in shabby clothes pleading with him to talk to Mr. Drew about the adoption to stop it. The Reverand tells of his own experience some 30 years before, when his first baptism turned out to be twins, what a coincidence. What this information has to do with the Blair’s adopted twins is anyone’s guess until later in the story.

The Blairs have a chauffer named Rodney (who, we are repeatedly told, was gassed in the war. That’s WWI for you youngsters). He acts strangely, because he was gassed, we are repeatedly told, but he buys baby food for the twins. The housekeeper-turned-nanny, Colleen, does not know the first thing about taking care of kids, and Nancy and Bess swoop in to help her during several trips to the Blair’s house.

A mysterious woman comes to the Blair’s house (ironically nicknamed Jolly Folly) and kisses the babies while they are in their perambulator (don’t you just love antiquated words?). Nancy just knows that this is the mysterious woman who visited the Reverand because of her clothing description and gives chase. Before Nancy can catch her, she crashes into a vehicle–the Reverand’s, of course! The fact that Nancy gets into an accident due to careless driving is surprising because in most of the books, it is always stated that Nancy is a good and careful and conscientious driver. But it gives Nancy a chance to talk to the Reverand again about the baptism of twins that he did 30 years ago. He remembered the first names of the twins he baptized were named Ruth and Rodney. Rodney, you say? What a coincidence.

The Blairs are mostly absent adoptive parents; they are more concerned about teaching the kids to perform on stage when they get older, and how adopting the twins is all good publicity and lots of free press. Their manager, McNeery, threatens to fire them if they keep the kids, because he thinks children are awful. His wife left them because he hated children. Through Nancy’s visits to Jolly Folly, she learns that the Blairs are overextended while living the high life. She also learns that Rodney is a twin, who has no idea where his sister is. They were separated because of the war, and when he returned home, everyone he knew had moved away.

Meantime, Nancy and her chums Bess and George track down the mysterious woman. It turns out she worked as a nurse at the orphanage where the twins lived and quit her job the day the twins were adopted. It was she who sent the telegram to Carson Drew, and the woman who talked to the Reverand. And her name–Ruth Brown. Ruth, you say? What a coincidence.

Nancy brings Ruth, Bess and George to Jolly Folly because the Blair’s have advertised for a nanny, and Colleen is up to her usual ineptness, leaving the twins alone in their cribs while she hangs out with her boyfriend downstairs. The twins fall out of their cribs and have major bruises and cuts on their face. Colleen takes no responsibility for her actions as Ruth sweeps in to attend to the twins. Colleen thinks Nancy is trying to get her fired (which is true), and plots to make Nancy pay for all the trouble the twins have brought upon her.

There’s a shady detective the Blairs hire based upon the inept Colleen’s assertions that Nancy is out to get them. Of course, Colleen has planted one of Kitty Blair’s diamond lockets in Nancy’s car. The shady detective, and Colleen’s boyfriend end up chasing the girls in their motor cars. Nancy gets a flat tire, and instead of changing it herself (I know she knows how to do it; she did it in a previous book), she flags down a garage man to help change the tire. While the car is parked, the boyfriend finds the hidden locket right where Colleen told him it would be, so Nancy is branded a thief.

The girls manage to get away with the help of the service man, and head to a distant town. There they find the other half of the broken locket in the washed up boat that no one has touched for a year. More astoundingly, they visit the town upstream where the boat must have come from and find out there was a woman hit by lightning in a storm about a year prior and wasn’t quite right in the head anymore and lives down by the river. And what a coincidence, this woman turns out to be the twin’s mother! Even more of a coincidence, it is the business manager’s wife, the one who hated kids and split with his wife because of them.

But now that his wife has been returned to him, McNeery changes his tune and says he’ll take her back, and the twins, too. And he’s torn up the contract with the Blairs, who are now broke and in no need of twins. So the Blairs just sign over the kids as quickly as they adopted them in the first place.

The Original Text Clue of the Broken Locket is one of the most convoluted Nancy Drew stories I’ve read so far.

So what about the RT? What in fresh heck did I just read? After reading the hot mess of the Original Text. I thought for sure the Revised Text would be better. I can’t say that it is.

Nancy’s father sends her to Maryland, where she is to open up his client’s cottage for a renter due to arrive soon. She takes Bess and George along and get involved in no less than three mysteries. Since this is a Nancy Drew story, all three mysteries wind up being inter-related in the end.

There’s the kidnapping of twins, the abduction of a red-headed woman, an attempted kidnapping of Nancy and an up-and-coming Rock Star, a phantom riverboat, music piracy, the rock star and his red-headed fiancee’ are knocked out when someone hurls a huge rock at them, the fiancee’ and Nancy are almost killed when a huge log is rolled off a cliff towards them, Nancy’s canoe is sabotaged, it never ends.

And when they are not exploring the area, the ladies are preparing feasts. Food is always a thing in Nancy Drew books for some reason, as if fat-shaming “plump” or “chubby” Bess weren’t enough, there’s always an emphasis if she has an extra scoop of ice cream. George is always described as athletic and tomboyish, but despite being told that at least three times in this story, she’s also a frequent clutz in the stories; in this one she falls down and bangs her head pretty badly.

There’s also a treasure to be found for the fiancee’, who conveniently, is an orphan (Nancy sure does meet a lot of orphans who are down on their luck, especially in the OTs, but in the RTs as well) It involves a locket, an iron bird, and some place called Pudding Stone Lodge on Misty Lake, which is near Baltimore. Of course, Nancy and the gang (and I say gang because one call to Ned, Burt, and Dave, who apparently don’t have anything to do, drive down to Maryland to go to a rock concert and help Nancy with her mysteries) find the treasure by tearing through a wall of Pudding Stone Lodge.

The kidnapped twins are reunited with their mother, who is a lookalike and turns out a cousin of the rock star’s fiance’e. Her tale of losing her kids and subsequent search for them is absolutely unbelievably contrived.

The bad guys, in Scooby Doo fashion, explain everything when they are caught.

I’m at a loss to decide which story is “better”, the original or this, the RT. It’s a toss up. They were both exceptionally bad. But these stories certainly captured my attention when I was a kid. They were so exciting and Nancy was so resourceful, she could do anything.

For more information about my favorite sleuth, check out Jenn Fisher’s Unofficial Nancy Drew website, which has a wealth of information.

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