The Hidden Staircase (Nancy Drew Mystery Stories #2)

by Carolyn Keene

Hardcover, 2007

Status

Available

Local notes

Fic Kee (c.2)

Collection

Publication

Grosset & Dunlap (2007), Edition: 2008 Printing, 192 pages

Description

Teenage detective Nancy Drew uses her courage and powers of deduction to solve the mysterious happenings in an old stone mansion.

Language

Original language

English

Original publication date

1959-05-15 (revised edition)
1930-04-28

Physical description

180 p.; 5 inches

ISBN

9780448095028

UPC

070918095023

Barcode

2650

User reviews

LibraryThing member TamiHindes
One has to wonder how much editting was done to make this series seem plausible in today's technological world. I looked at the copywrite date 1930, and wondered - did women really have this much freedom then or were they patted on the head and patronized? Did people have phones in their homes? There is never any mention of TV, but the radio plays a part in this book. Would they drive convertibles? Why doesn't Nancy have a real job? So are these books a meshing of several generations?

I think because Nancy doesn't have a cell phone or a computer to help her out, she appears smarter and more resourceful. The books are creepier because you know she's all alone, no cell phone to call for help. And if she did, the mystery wouldn't be as intriguing.

This book finds Nancy helping her friend Helen and her aunt and great-grandmother find a "ghost" who's haunting their family home. Meanwhile Nancy's father has been kidnapped and Nancy must find him.

As with all Nancy Drew stories - these are melodramas. The good guys win and the bad guys are justly punished. The bad guys are caught without anyone getting hurt - no shoot out, no chase and once they realize they've been caught, they 'fess up and go off with a police officer.

One thing that I find comical is the description of the meals - the whole menu is described from the fruit cup appetizer to the entree and dessert. I wonder why so much detail is placed on the food when barely a mention is made of her clothes - a skirt or a white blouse. Nor is there a lot of place description in comparison.

I do like how there is just enough suspense to make me catch my breath, but not enough to scare me so I can't sleep at night.

My quest is to read all 61 Nancy Drew novels in 2011. I started a bit late in the year, but I can read them in a day or two so I shouldn't have any problem unless I run out of money. I am reading them on my Nook.
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LibraryThing member jacketscoversread
Nancy’s friend, Helen, and Helen’s Great-Aunt Rosemary ask Nancy to solve a mystery at her great-grandmother’s home, Twin Elms, a stately Colonial mansion in nearby Cliffwood. And Nancy is determined to check it out until she hears that her father is being threatened by crooked lawyer Nathan Gomber, who feels Carson, as attorney for the railroad, cheated property owners near a new railroad bridge. Carson Drew, Nancy’s father, tells her not to worry and Nancy and Helen go to stay at Twin Elms while Carson goes to Chicago to find Willie Wharton, who is holding up the proceedings by hiding.

On the girls’ first day, a chandelier sways by itself. Miss Flora is missing items, music comes out of nowhere, and a gorilla is seen peering in a window. After Nancy confers with the local chief of police, an officer named Patrick is assigned to patrol the grounds while Nathan Gomber repeatedly harasses Miss Flora and Rosemary to sell their property to him.

When Nancy’s father fails to arrive on schedule, Nancy becomes worried, later finding out that her father was kidnapped. As she rushes to find him she also finds a connection between her father and the ghost of Twin Elms.

Once again, the title gave it away but I thought The Hidden Staircase was much better than The Secret of the Old Clock. Even though this one moves a lot slower and most of the drama occurs in the last three chapters, there is an actual mystery here that has much higher stakes. After all, Nancy’s father is kidnapped.

And unlike the first book in the series, The Hidden Staircase’s descriptions are a lot better while still maintaining it’s simple nature.
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LibraryThing member victorianrose869
December 22, 2002
The Hidden Staircase (original)
Carolyn Keene

I’ve read somewhere, in an interview with Mildred Wirt Benson, that this was her favorite book. I can see why. Does it get any better than an old haunted house, complete with hidden passages? Nancy’s approached by an older woman, who lives with her elderly mother in this big old house. Things are disappearing and they’re hearing strange noises, and think the house is haunted. Of course, Nancy knows better…… (more)
LibraryThing member victorianrose869
December 22, 2002
The Hidden Staircase (original)
Carolyn Keene

I’ve read somewhere, in an interview with Mildred Wirt Benson, that this was her favorite book. I can see why. Does it get any better than an old haunted house, complete with hidden passages? Nancy’s approached by an older woman, who lives with her elderly mother in this big old house. Things are disappearing and they’re hearing strange noises, and think the house is haunted. Of course, Nancy knows better…… (more)
LibraryThing member alice443
I enjoyed rereading this book -- it was not as I recalled from my youth but it was fun, a bit like a social history -- the original publication was in 1930. Today (and even in my youth) Nancy seems much too perfect.
LibraryThing member AyannaRo
“The Hidden Staircase” by Carolyn Keen was a good book. Although I found the beginning of the book hard to get into the ending more than made up for it. The way the author built up the mystery by creating problem after problem really impressed me. In this book Nancy Drew was more daring than she usually is, I think that was because she would do anything to find her missing father. When I was reading this book I had no idea where Nancy’s father was. Time was ticking, the book was ending and I was getting worried that Nancy might not solve the mystery. But of course in the last chapter Nancy was victorious and was reunited with her dad. This book really made me think about my family and what I would do if someone kidnapped one of them. Would I do anything to save and protect them? Would I use all my money to hire the best detective? Yes, I would do anything to save them. So I felt sorry for Nancy when she was worried that her father might be hurt. The author’s style really appealed to me because in this book Nancy spoke using words that you and I in the 21st century would not use. Overall I liked this book and recommend it to people who love Nancy Drew and people who want to read something different.… (more)
LibraryThing member t1bclasslibrary
Nancy Drew can be a bit of an annoying character because she is just a little too perfect, polite, and generally one-sided. In this story, Nancy's father is threatened while a "ghost" has suddenly appeared to haunt her friend Helen's relative's anscestral home. Nancy is trying to solve that mystery while helping out her father, and both cases are tied together by the nasty character of Nathan Gomber. He is, of course, behind both plots, and Nancy discovers the connection.… (more)
LibraryThing member barbiekait
SPOILERS!!! I Probably should have mentioned this in my last ND review, but I love Nancy's relationship with her dad and their house keeper, Hannah. Carson Drew is one of my favorite fictional dads', and Hannah is a really sweet, motherly figure toward Nancy.

We see more of Helen then we did in the last book. Helen is also engaged to a man named Jim Archer (who is also in the Secret of the Old Clock game). Helen's great-grandmother and great-aunt Rosemary are also nice characters.

All the haunting at Twin Elms Manor was kind of cool, like when the chandelier started swing, and music played out of nowhere, the owl in the house, etc.

Then the book gets more intense when Nancy's dad gets kidnapped by the people who are trying to make Helen's great-grandmother sell Twin Elms. Not cool.

One of my favorite parts of the book was when Nancy and Helen are exploring Riverveiw Manor and find the hidden staircase. That part was good and also a little bit scary.

And Nancy's Dad's Okay! Yay!

Well, that's it for now.
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LibraryThing member Laura_Martorana
Carolyn Keene's series is one that is always enticing and entertaining. They can be used to teach children about mystery writing and most definitely about plot in general, the progression of rising action, conflict, climax, falling action, etc. This book lends itself to the study of investigation as well.
LibraryThing member JeremyPreacher
I have both the 1950s revised and condensed version and the original 1930s version. If you ever get the chance to read them side-by-side, I highly recommend it. The differences are enlightening.
LibraryThing member WillowOne
I picked this book up at a flea market for my GodDaughter. I decided to read the book again for old time sake. I am not going to put much in my review because I don't want to give anything away.
Nancy is trying to solve the mystery surrounding the weird happenings at a friends Great Grandmother's home.… (more)
LibraryThing member jayeida
i have never read this book before but i am definitely looking forward to it
LibraryThing member gail616
Another classic
LibraryThing member lucybrown
This is my 12 year old self reviewing. Nancy Drew was addictive, entertaining, suspenseful reading for a preteen in the early 1970s. My daughter was equally hooked at that age in the 21st cent. There is something in this formula that keeps working. Is it great literarture? No! But it is fun.
LibraryThing member lucybrown
This is my 12 year old self reviewing. Nancy Drew was addictive, entertaining, suspenseful reading for a preteen in the early 1970s. My daughter was equally hooked at that age in the 21st cent. There is something in this formula that keeps working. Is it great literarture? No! But it is fun.
LibraryThing member katieloucks
loved this series as a kid
LibraryThing member Beammey
I love Nancy Drew. She's such a good role model for young kids and these stories are so easy to fly through. I would recommend them. This story in particular had really good pacing and the storyline was engaging. 5 out of 5 stars.
LibraryThing member jjackson89
Good book.
LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
Home alone one afternoon, Nancy Drew receives a most unwelcome visitor in the form of Nathan Gombet, a rude man who barges into the Drew home, raving about how Nancy's father, Carson Drew, had cheated him in a property deal. Shortly after this unpleasant episode, while visiting with Abigail Rowen, an elderly lady she aided in her first adventure, The Secret of the Old Clock, Nancy is introduced to a Miss Rosemary Turnbull. Miss Turnbull and her sister Floretta, older maiden ladies, live together in a Civil War-era mansion in the nearby town of Cliffwood, and are dealing with a most frightening situation, in the seeming haunting of their home. Nancy is intrigued, and arranges to spend a week with the Turnbull sisters, investigating the ghost. When she discovers that Nathan Gombet, the man who had been threatening her father, lives next door and had previously offered to buy the Turnbull mansion, she immediately has her suspicions regarding the haunting. But how can she prove her theory that Gombet is the ghost, when she can't figure out how he is coming and going? And what does the disappearance of her father, who fails to return from his trip to Chicago, have to do with it all...?

First published in 1930, The Hidden Staircase was girl sleuth Nancy Drew's second adventure. Like all of the Nancy Drew books, it was condensed and revised in the 1950s, in a project intended to update the vocabulary and narrative incidents of the stories, and to excise any racially insensitive content. This particular title was apparently more revised than most, with quite a bit of storyline changed, so I am particularly glad to have access to the original version from 1930. As I mentioned in my review of The Secret of the Old Clock, although I read this series as a girl, I tended to find it fairly uninspiring and wooden, and only realized its charm when I happened many years later upon the Applewood Books editions, which present facsimiles of the original versions from the 1930s. These original stories are far more quirky, far more descriptive, and unfortunately, far more racist than their later counterparts.

On the last point, it is interesting to me to note that almost every detailed review I have encountered of The Hidden Staircase reads the Nathan Gombet character as Jewish, and his depiction as anti-Semitic. This surprises me, as I simply never picked up on that subtext, in any of my multiple readings of this book. The description of Gombet never struck me as coded in a way meant to suggest he was Jewish, which stands in contrast to any number of vintage children's books I have read that do have such coded depictions. The unscrupulous book dealer in Jane Abbott's A Row of Stars (1937), for instance, is never overtly labeled a Jew, but his depiction makes it plain that he is. Here however, I simply didn't pick up on this. I read a review recently that mentioned a description of Gombet having a "hooked nose," but although I read through carefully this time, I couldn't find the passage. Doing a little research, I have discovered that a similar surname, Gombert, is sometimes a Jewish one, so perhaps that was also meant as a hint? However that may be, and whether he is meant to be Jewish or not, the villain's characterization is certainly not subtle, and the depiction of his African-American maid and co-conspirator, who is frequently referred to as a "negress," is most certainly racist.

The outdated racial and ethnic content of these original Nancy Drew books is their chief drawback, detracting from the enjoyment of otherwise entertaining tales of a clever and brave young heroine, always stalwartly pursuing the truth. I always feel torn about this: the originals are much better, from a storytelling and writing perspective, and they have greater charm, with their old-fashioned terms - roadsters, chums, and so on - and period details. The 50s version are like stale, bland copies in these respects, but they are't quite as outdated. It's a tradeoff. For myself, I tend to prefer the original version of any work of literature, however offensive that original is, but I would understand why some would hesitate to give these original Nancy Drew titles to young readers. This (the original) is one I would mostly recommend to adult readers who enjoy vintage girls' fare, while the revised 1950s version is one I would recommend to middle-grade readers who enjoy mystery fiction.
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LibraryThing member lucybrown
This is my 12 year old self reviewing. Nancy Drew was addictive, entertaining, suspenseful reading for a preteen in the early 1970s. My daughter was equally hooked at that age in the 21st cent. There is something in this formula that keeps working. Is it great literarture? No! But it is fun.
LibraryThing member justagirlwithabook
I absolutely loved Nancy Drew growing up. This was a series I latched on to for dear life and never let go. Anytime my mom and I would go to antique stores, we'd peruse the Nancy Drews and add them to the collection (oftentimes my mom had to make deals with me on how many I could buy). So, while I don't remember the exact details of each and every one, the entire series was amazing and really fed my love for reading (especially novels full of suspense and mystery). Thank you, Carolyn Keene, for giving us an intelligent female character to fall in love with in Nancy Drew!… (more)
LibraryThing member thelittlebookworm
Nancy is asked by her friend Helen Corning to investigate some mysterious goings on at her aunts' house. Between the ghostly hauntings and the disappearance of Nancy's father, she certainly has her hands full with this mystery. But Nancy handles with her usual style and poise.

The Little Bookworm… (more)
LibraryThing member Barb_H
Still love reading these books even as an adult.

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Lexile

780L

Pages

180

Rating

(471 ratings; 3.8)
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