19 Best Nancy Drew Books Update 05/2022

Best Nancy Drew Books

Almost 90 years ago, Nancy Drew found her first hidden staircase, cracked her first code, caught her first crook, and was knocked out by her first chloroform-soaked towel. It’s been a long time.

While countless movies and television shows have been made about our favorite girl detective, nothing comes close to the original books, with their action-packed (and occasionally outlandish) plots and fantastic cover art, which hint at the title’s contents — sometimes spooky, other times perplexing, but always entertaining.

Nancy was a pioneer of the girl power movement. She took down thieves, racketeers, and other bad guys while making it look easy, and she did it all without being afraid. As a reader, you’d be able to admire Nancy because of her ingenuity and resourcefulness. In fact, I read The Ghost of Blackwood Hall for the 245th time when I was younger.

If you’re excited about the new Nancy Drew movie or show, we’ve got 56 of her best adventures from Grosset & Dunlap. Join me as I rank them, taking this into account: In this movie, were there exciting twists and turns in the plot? It was a good resolution, but was it? Finally, does it still work as well as it can?

We’re going to start:

The Clue in the Old Album (Book #24)

The Clue in the Old Album (Book #24)

During the Clue in the Old Album, Nancy is looking for a violinist who hasn’t been found. Unfortunately, it hasn’t aged well. It features Romani fortune tellers, and the word “gypsy,” which is now a slur, is used a lot. People have changed many of the racially insensitive parts of older books, but this one hasn’t changed at all.

The Mystery of the Ivory Charm (Book #13)

A good thing Nancy does in this title is stand up to a child abuser. She also rescues a boy from the circus. Because of this, though, it’s one of the darker books, and there’s always a sense of sadness in it.

The Mystery at the Ski Jump (Book #29)

This one is about people who steal furs and people who buy stock in a fake fur company. While they get no sympathy from me, since that’s what you get for buying fur, a major issue with this book is the title is deceiving — most of the action takes place away from a ski jump. There is also the same plot line where a bad person takes Nancy’s identity, but it’s done better in other books.

The Ringmaster’s Secret (Book #31)

The secret is that this is not one of Nancy’s best trips. Her aunt sends her a bracelet with a missing charm, and Nancy is taking trick-riding lessons at the same time. She has to figure out what happened to the charm, which is gold and has a hole in it. Eventually, she goes to a circus and looks for the bracelet’s owner there. Everything moves slowly, and there doesn’t seem to be much of a rush.

The Strange Message in the Parchment (Book #54)

The Strange Message in the Parchment (Book #54)

As long as you love sheep farms, then this book is for you. Otherwise, I’ve got a book for you.

The Secret of the Forgotten City (Book #52)

Nancy and her best friends, cousins George Fayne and Bess Marvin, decide to go to Nevada to look for gold, and they go with her. There is a disturbing scene early in the book in which a stranger threatens to shoot Nancy’s dog. A shot is fired, and Togo disappears. Even though everyone is sad because they don’t know what happened to him, they still go inside and eat dessert. This seemed out of place.

The Clue in the Crossword Cipher (Book #44)

Bess is fat-shamed by the man who gives alpaca rides, which is bad, so this one doesn’t work out.

The Clue of the Broken Locket (Book #11)

Even though there is so much going on, this one isn’t very interesting. Nancy, Bess, and George are trying to use the clue of the broken locket to find a hidden treasure. Nancy, Bess, and George run into a ghost ship, try to help a man who is being ripped off by a record company, and visit a place called Pudding Stone Lodge (which is, admittedly, a great name). It just doesn’t seem like there is a lot of a connection between the characters in this book and the people who appear in it.

The Mystery of the 99 Steps (Book #43)

The Mystery of the 99 Steps (Book #43)

 

Nancy goes to France to find these 99 steps, which are linked to two different mysteries. She wants to find these steps. But the real question is how you can count 99 steps without your eyes crossing and you forgetting.

The Spider Sapphire Mystery (Book #45)

In Africa, Nancy and her friends meet a mean girl who has her blonde wig stolen by an African baboon while they are on a trip. In Nancy Drew, this is kind of silly and a little off-key for a book that is supposed to be about the theft of an ancient gem.

The Phantom of Pine Hill (Book #42)

One of the things this book does well is mix a ghost in a mansion library with the mystery of drowned wedding gifts. It’s all right.

The Clue of the Black Keys (Book #28)

That piano key? That car key? That Black Key? This isn’t about them. There are bad guys who want Nancy out of the picture when Nancy meets the world’s youngest archeology professor and goes to the Florida Keys. The action moves from the United States to Mexico at the end, which keeps the reader interested. But this book doesn’t have the same oomph as the ones that focus on truly nefarious villains and sinister events.

The Mystery of the Brass-Bound Trunk (Book #17)

The Mystery of the Brass-Bound Trunk (Book #17)

On a cruise to South America, Nancy, Bess, and George get their trunks mixed up with another woman’s. This N.D. is Nestrelda Darlington, who has what must be the most unfortunate name in the entire series.

The Thirteenth Pearl (Book #56)

She’d have enough money to open her own store with an alarm system and an armed guard, which River Heights doesn’t have. This time, she has to find a missing pearl. She goes to Japan, where she finds a fake pearl cult, which is as weird as it sounds.

The Mysterious Mannequin (Book #47)

Nancy gets a weird package in the mail. It’s full of a very fancy rug with a secret message inside. In the end, there will be another trip, this time to Turkey. This is just the beginning of the action. There is a lot of space in Nancy Drew’s passport, right?

The Secret of Mirror Bay (Book #49)

This is yet another book with a Nancy Drew lookalike in it. They all meet up and have support groups, so I don’t think they don’t think that.

The Clue of the Dancing Puppet (Book #39)

The Clue of the Dancing Puppet (Book #39)

People-sized puppets that dance around on their own are not what you want to see in your dreams. Because Nancy wants to be an actress when she grows up, this is a good book that shows that.

The Scarlet Slipper Mystery (Book #32)

Nancy Drew books often have a lot to do with dancing and missing jewels, and this one is no different. A fictional country called Centrovia is what makes this game unique, but that’s not enough to move this one up the list.

The Clue of the Leaning Chimney (Book #26)

No one called a mason to fix this chimney because it’s giving Nancy the clue she needs to find a Chinese vase. In this case, it’s a typical, middle-of-the-road crime.

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