A pearl necklace that is unusual and valuable has been stolen. The girl detective soon learns strange and dangerous people are responsible for the theft. Nancy and Carson Drew travel to Japan in search of the necklace. Clues found near home and in Japan help her uncover a group of underworld jewel thieves hiding behind the front of a pearl worshipping cult.
The Thirteenth Pearl (Amazon US) (AbeBooks) (AmazonUK) is the last of the Grosset & Dunlap Nancy Drew Mysteries before moving over to Simon & Schuster and paperback format. Some fans say that this book is the end of the canon, even though the mystery series went on to #175 in paperback form. If you are one of those that thinks this is the end of the traditional Nancy Drew books, you’ll be disappointed in the last story.
This is another travelogue, this time to Japan, and if you want to know what some parts of Japanese culture were like in the late 1970’s, you’ll enjoy this book. Otherwise, you’ll find the book woefully out of date. In fact, the whole way other cultures are treated by Nancy in the 1960’s and 70’s when travelogue mysteries became the norm is kind of offensive to today’s readers. Broadly painting strokes, calling people Oriental or Asiatic, is problematic. For no good reason, Nancy is invited to a wedding while in Japan to a couple she doesn’t know, is invited to the salon where the bride prepares, and in fact at one point even dresses up as a Japanese woman in disguise. Ugh. While this sort of behavior may have been acceptable in the late 70’s, reading the book now is kind of cringey.
The mystery of the missing pearl necklace is unusual, and this time Nancy has to contend with an international ring of jewel thieves. In the days before the internet and cell phones, I suppose a trip to Japan to investigate the disappearance of her client and hopes to find the missing necklace wasn’t unusual then, but now it’s a bit of a stretch. Having Nancy travel to all these interesting locations was just a way to impart young readers information on different places and cultures, but now it’s unnecessary. Like I said, this book hasn’t aged well.
The worst part of the book is the fact that for the majority of it, Nancy does not have her chums, Bess and George, to rely upon. Only after Nancy returns to River Heights late in the book do the girls play a part, although Nancy did give them some sleuthing to do in her absence. And of course, where there is Bess and George, you know that Ned, Burt and Dave aren’t far behind.
The whole thing about a cult of pearl worshippers was weird and didn’t work for me. As you can tell, most of the book didn’t work for me.
In terms of peril, Nancy and Ned lose consciousness when they’re chloroformed near the end of the book. No one gets a concussive shock to the head, sprains and ankle, or gets in a car accident. Rather dull compared to other Nancy Drew books.
The only reason I’d recommend this book is to complete your Nancy Drew Mysteries collection, whether you collect the original 56 or the complete 175.
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