The Clue in the Old Album (Nancy Drew Mystery Stories #24) by Carolyn Keene

I’ve been reading the Original Text (OT) and Revised Text (RT) Nancy Drew Mysteries since shortly after the shutdown happened last spring. I have to say that I’m getting a little Nancy Drew fatigued. I love my teen detective, I do, but keeping up with her and all my other reading I’d like to do is hard. Reading two versions of the same story to find revisions can be tedious week after week, and The Clue in the Old Album has to be one of my least favorite Nancy Drew Mysteries I’ve re-read thus far. I alternate between the Mysteries and the current series, the Diaries, but soon I will run out of Diaries and will have to decide which other Nancy Drew series, if any, I am going to also read to give myself a break from the Mysteries. It will get better after volume 34, for which there is only one version of text, but that’s a way off. I firmly intend to continue reading through my Nancy Drew collection and posting reviews, but they may not appear every week anymore.

OT (Abebooks): “Nancy witnesses a purse snatching and chases the thief. She rescues the purse, but not its contents. The owner, a doll collector, asks Nancy to do some detecting. The woman provides a mysterious note: “The source of light will heal all ills, but a curse will follow him who takes it from the gypsies.” Nancy interprets this clue in her quest to find an old album, a lost doll, and a missing gypsy violinist. The girl detective’s valiant efforts bring happiness to a misunderstood child and her lonely grandmother. In addition to sleuthing, Nancy, Bess and George prepare for a boat race competition sponsored by the River Heights Yacht Club.”

RT (Amazon) (AbeBooks): “Nancy Drew witnesses a purse snatching and runs after the thief. She rescues the purse, but not its contents, then is asked by the owner, a doll collector, to do some detective work. Readers will enjoy Nancy’s clever ways of finding all she seeks, and bringing happiness to a misunderstood child and her lonely grandmother.”

The Clue in the Old Album, both the OT and the RT, are filled with stereotypes about gypsies. Every once in a while Nancy says something along the lines of “not all gypsies are thieves,” but then she keeps finding gypsies who are stealing. The only good gypsy in the book is Rose’s father, who Nancy has been hired to find. He’s a violinist and said to be a fine one, and by looking at a picture, Nancy can tell he’s not like the “other” gypsies. He must be kind and warm-hearted.

In the OT, there’s this whole subplot about a yacht club sailing race that Nancy, Bess, and George are going to enter. Get this crazy action: they fly to a town called Jefferson, which must be some distance away if they’re taking a plane, to maybe buy a boat and go to a doll auction for Nancy’s client. They buy a boat and then decide to sail it back to River Heights that day! Okay, so half the day is over and they’re in an unfamiliar area, so let’s take a boat home to the Muskoka River. Nearing nightfall, they realize they can’t go much farther (well, duh!) and find a campground with cottages. The girls call home and let their parents know what is up. The next morning Nancy receives a telegram that she must return home immediately, so she leaves the girls to sail the boat home themselves and she hops on a train to make it back to River Heights in 1 1/2 hours. Just how far away was this town Jefferson? And they intended to sail home? Absolutely unbelievable. In fact, Nancy has to go out in a motorboat and rescue Bess and George, who still hadn’t managed to get the boat to River Heights. In the RT, Jefferson is in another state and the girls go for the doll show, and the entire subplot about the sailing race is taken out, thankfully.

But seriously, I cringed while reading both versions because of the stereotyping. In the OT, the gypsies are from Romania, but in the RT, they’re from Spain. But nothing about their behavior changes and just plays into stereotypes. I couldn’t help but think of Cher when reading these books.

There’s also the recycling of a plot used earlier in The Mystery of the Ivory Charm (see my review here) where some really old object is carrying poison and hasn’t lost it’s effective properties in the last hundred years. This time it’s dolls. And Nancy is poked with a poison needle that had not been discovered before. And there’s another doll from the Civil War era that had a head that could be taken off and slip notes or poisons through enemy lines. And a doll that has a poison dust that is released and can prove fatal.

I’m not going to bore you with the rest, other than to say Nancy finds the missing father, and that the mystery had little to do with the “clue in the old album.” A better title would be The Missing Violinist.

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