From the publisher: An antique dealer’s revelation about a former queen’s priceless heirloom starts Nancy on a trail of exciting adventures.
Madame Alexandra, now living incognito in River Heights, asks Nancy to find her missing grandson. With only one clue to go on — a faded photograph of the prince at the age of four — the young detective begins her search, which rapidly involves her in a series of dangerous and harrowing adventures. When Nancy needs help, she calls on Bess, George, Burt, Dave, and her special friend, Ned. How Nancy’s discovery of the heirloom’s secret unmasks a slick imposter and reunites the long-separated family climaxes this suspense-filled mystery story. “
The Original Text (OT) of The Clue in the Jewel Box (Amazon) (AbeBooks) was written at the height of World War II in 1943. The publishers decided to do away with Nancy’s car and in this volume, she walks, bikes or takes the ferry to various places. Apparently her dad sacrificed her car for the war effort. 😉
This mystery involves the former queen of a country that had a revolution and killed all her family members except one, a grandson who was spirited away to America by his nurse. The former queen does not wish to be known as such, just call her Mrs. Alexandra, please. She has many fine jewels and antiques and a special little hand-crafted egg, which has a nightingale hidden inside. There’s a secret switch that makes the bird sing in her native tongue, and it says “The Clue in the Jewel Box.” Mrs. Alexandra introduces Nancy to a Mr. Farber, whose father was the jeweler for the court and made many of the pieces the former queen owns, including the egg.
It doesn’t take a dummy to figure out that this story eludes to the Russian Revolution, which was only 25 years prior to this book’s publication, and the Faberge’ eggs. After the revolution, for years, there were various crackpots who claimed to be the lost prince or one of the princesses. Most of them seemed to make their way to America, so this book, at the time, has a ripped-from-the-headlines feel to it.
Nancy takes a ferryboat and as usually in a Nancy Drew book, a storm comes up, and the ferryboat crashes into another vessel. For some reason, which is very un-like a Nancy Drew book, Nancy is not thrown overboard, nor does she hit her head, although she does gets drenched.
Helen Corning returns, but in the OT, she’s not married. In the Revised Text (RT) of The Clue in the Jewel Box (Amazon) (AbeBooks), Helen gets married to Jim Archer in one of the early volumes and doesn’t help Nancy on her cases anymore which opens the way for Bess and George to appear to fill the void. In the OT and in the RT, Helen brings back a young woman from a foreign country who is a clothing designer. Helen’s dad (or Jim, depending on the version) put up the money for Katherine to open her own dress shop. There’s a local fashion show and Helen has entered Katherine in it and offers Nancy up as a model for the multi-day show.
There’s also a rash of wallets and purses stolen in River Heights, including Carson Drew’s wallet, which contained a ton of cash to secure a Boys Club in town. (Why not a girls club, Carson?) Nancy thinks she’s tracked down the pickpocket, but it turns out to be a man that looks just like the thief. At one crime scene, she picks up a picture of a young boy in a sailor suit. Dontcha know that the picture is of Mrs. Alexandra’s long-lost grandson! So Nancy has a pickpocket to find and a lost prince to locate. What are the odds that of all places in America to settle, the prince would be in River Heights? If it’s a Nancy Drew book, the chances are pretty good.
For one of the first times in the OTs, the police are seen as appreciative of Nancy’s help and are the good guys. In the earlier volumes, they snickered at Nancy’s sleuthing ability and are seen to be more of a nuisance than a help, a bumbling police force as it were.
Ned makes an appearance, showing up because his job as a swimming coach at a boys camp is done. He actually helps Nancy kidnap a man, who originally Nancy thought to be the long lost Prince Michael, but turns out to be a thief. Could he be in league with the pickpockets Nancy is pursuing? If it’s a Nancy Drew book, the answer is most assuredly yes!
In random happenings, Nancy saves a boy who falls off a speedboat. The speedboat is driven by a Mr. Ellington, a well-known artist in the area. Also random, Nancy and Ned are stuck at the top of a rickety Ferris Wheel at the local carnival and she almost misses her modeling debut, where she slips on a loose board and falls into the arms of Mr. Ellington.
Of course, Nancy finds the two pickpockets, who happen to look a lot alike and are working together, who just so happen to be involved with the fake Prince Michael, and finds the lost prince!
The OT and the RT are the same story. The RT is just revised, cleaning up some minor loose ends that were in the original, and made shorter. This makes the story a little choppier, and as it was updated inn 1972, the storyline seems out-of-date given that there weren’t many foreign revolutions from the recent past. The RT features Bess and George and their boy friends more, which I always like, but in this case, I prefer the OT.
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