In my quest to read all my Nancy Drew books, I’ve been concentrating on the Original Text (OT) (Abebooks) because I grew up with the Revised Text (RT) (Abebooks) (Amazon) books. Volume #34, The Hidden Window Mystery, is the last volume to have OT and RT. After this, there is only one version of each story. The OT of The Hidden Window Mystery was published in 1956.
“Nancy is intrigued by a magazine article offering a large reward to anyone finding a missing medieval stained-glass window. She invites Bess and George to join her on a search in Charlottesville, Virginia. During the girls’ investigation of Ivy Hall, an old rundown, southern mansion, rented by a superstitious actress, they encounter a hostile ghost. Eerie sounds come from a beautiful neighboring estate that is surrounded by a high brick wall. Could these mysterious noises and the ghost at Ivy Hall be connected? “
This is another travelogue Nancy Drew Mystery, where she travels to another locale to solve the mystery. But it starts in River Heights, where the mailman lets her know about a mystery he read about in a magazine. That leads her to Charlottesville, Virginia with Bess and George in tow to solve the mystery of a missing stained glass window that was believed to have made it’s way to American from England in the mid-1850’s. And of course, Nancy stumbles onto more mysteries, which are all tied together in the end.
I do have to give some concessions to the time in which this book was written, 1956, and the portrayals of blacks. Not only is every one the girls meet a servant, they speak in “Mammy and Pappy” talk. One of the women they meet is actually called Mammy. And the reaction Bess has when she sees old rundown slave quarters is that she thinks it’s “romantic” and later on, she uses the term “quaint” to describe something else regarding slavery. So I found this book as cringeworthy as some of the volumes written in the 1930’s, which also had a lot of stereotypes about blacks.
Somehow Ned, Burt and Dave manage to find time to drive down from Emerson to visit Nancy and the ladies for one day and then return. Which is amazing because Nancy, Bess, and George had to fly to Virginia. Nancy and the ladies find time in their sleuthing schedule to visit Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe’s homes, where some information about their homes is given (although one piece of information about Monticello has been debunked since the writing of this book.)
In terms of peril, Nancy is hit in the back of her head, there are two car crashes (and a purchase of another vehicle in less than an hour!), Nancy and George fall through a trap door and slide down to the basement like in a Scooby Doo episode. George falls into a floor-level well, and Nancy is treed by a guard dog. George also cuts her hand on some stained glass. While staying at a “haunted” manor, someone breaks in, wrecks the place, and the only thing taken is the girls’ lingerie. Seriously.
Despite the above-mentioned issues, this is an enjoyable mystery but not out-of-this-world. And the series of coincidences that Nancy and the gang encounter make this a typical Nancy Drew Mystery. The fact that Nancy is searching for a centuries-old stained glass window with a peacock on it, and encounters peacocks while in Virginia is not only coincidental, it’s mandatory in a Nancy Drew book.
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