The Haunted Bridge (Nancy Drew Mystery Stories #15) by Carolyn Keene

After several weeks of Ghost Stories, we’re back to the original Nancy Drew Mystery Stories. This week we’re up to #15, The Haunted Bridge, both the Original Text (OT) (Amazon) (AbeBooks) and the Revised Text (RT) (Amazon) (AbeBooks). The books are the same story, the RT is just a condensed version of the OT with minor changes made.

From the publisher: “Mr. Drew is on the trail of an international ring of jewel thieves and asks Nancy to assist him. The trail leads to a summer resort area (Desert Mountain Inn). Before Nancy has a chance to start work on her father’s case, a golf caddy tells her a frightening tale. In the dense woods nearby is an old wooden footbridge guarded by a ghost! Intrigued by the caddy’s story, Nancy decides to investigate.

Several riddles confront the young detective as she attempts to solve the mystery of the haunted bridge and track down a woman suspected of being a key member of a gang of jewel thieves.

How Nancy finds the answers to the two mysteries and at the same time, despite her injured hand, wins a trophy in a golf tournament will thrill all Nancy Drew fans.”

First off, I don’t find golf thrilling. In fact, I find it very boring, and had to deal with a golf pro of an ex-brother-in-law for 25 years, so a book centered on golf should be a big turn-off, but it wasn’t. If anything, I found the OT and the RT to be probably one of the best volumes I’ve read out of the first fifteen.

In the OT of The Haunted Bridge, Nancy wins the tournament with a score of 89. Either Mildred Wirt Benson didn’t know golf, or golf changed a lot over the 35 years between the OT and RT because to qualify for the tournament, Nancy scores a 75. In fact, she wins the tournament in the RT with a 69. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say she won, because 1) she’s Nancy Drew, of course she’s going to win and 2) it’s in the ding dong description of the book on the first page!

The Haunted Bridge “mystery” is solved by page 43 in the OT and page 33 in the RT, which makes you wonder why the volume was named as such. A better title would be The Mystery of the Missing Jewels or something along those lines since it has to do with a gang of international jewel thieves.

I was very happy, for once in the books, that Bess was not called plump, although another female golfer is described this way. I always appreciated the fact that the artists doing the illustrations never drew Bess as overweight (until the early volumes of the paperback series, and not really overweight, but stocky), and I never saw her that way.

And what’s up with one reviewer claiming George is a lesbian because Burt is described as George’s “friend” and Dave is described as Bess’s “date”? Later in the book Burt is described as a “date” as well. I’m sick and tired of every tomboy in literature is automatically assumed to be gay. Can’t heterosexual girls like playing sports and wear their hair short like George? I certainly did growing up; I looked up to George as a role model because when I was growing up, everyone had long blonde hair, or long brown hair, and was of average height. I was tall, thin and had a pixie cut, so there was always a soft spot for someone like George in the books I read. And even if she is a lesbian, so what?

The mystery was kind of convoluted, and of course, Nancy’s mystery and her dad’s mystery are connected. One thing that bothered me was the way they handled the investigation of Miss Judson. They just randomly go to inns surrounding the area, scope out the lobby and bathroom for a woman using a jeweled vanity case (or compact in the RT) for 1/2 an hour, and declare defeat before moving on to the next hotel. Hardly a thorough investigation or stakeout.

In the OT, Ned gets very jealous of Nancy with another man, even after it’s revealed who he is and the man is related to the injured man Ned is taking care of. “Even the information that the man was Mr. Haley’s nephew did not satisfy him entirely. He felt that she displayed a decided eagerness to have the professor escort her back to the hotel in his stead.” And to be fair, Nancy does kind of blow him off, as usual. When he gets dressed up and asks her how she likes his new suit, “‘You look handsome in it,’ Nancy praised, without noting in detail what he wore.”

The whole Mortimer/Martin Bartescue subplot was an interesting McGuffin, because all the while you’re reading the book, Nancy and the gang, and the reader, just assume he’s one of the bad guys. But boy, was he annoying! Come to think of it, he reminds me of my golf pro ex-brother-in-law I mentioned earlier. 🙂

The Haunted Bridge is a solid entry in the Nancy Drew Mystery series, even though the bridge mystery was solved early on. The other mysteries kept the book moving along.

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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