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Book Review

This mystery book by Carolyn Keene is the first in the " Nancy Drew Mystery Stories" series published by Grosset & Dunlap Publishers, a member of the Putnam & Grosset Group.

The Secret of the Old Clock is written for kids ages 8 to 12. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Eighteen-year-old Nancy Drew lives with her father, a prominent lawyer, and Hannah Gruen, the housekeeper who has cared for Nancy since her mother's death years earlier. Nancy's intuitive nature makes her an asset to her father's cases. As Nancy drives through the country, she sees a little girl run into the road and nearly get hit by a moving van. The van speeds away, and Nancy rushes to the child's rescue.

She takes the child, Judy, home and meets the girl's aunts, Mary and Edna Turner. They've been Judy's guardians since her parents' deaths. They admit to Nancy that money is getting tight. Their wealthy cousin, Josiah Crowley, had promised to provide for them in his will. But when Josiah died a few months earlier, all his money went to other cousins, the Tophams. Known in town for their wealth and arrogance, the Tophams took Josiah in near the end of his life. Still, he wasn't especially close to the family. The Turners and other relatives wonder if Josiah wrote a later will that included them.

Nancy investigates, talking to other potential heirs of Josiah's fortune. The struggling Hoover sisters are former neighbors of Josiah's. One has an amazing voice but can't afford vocal training. Josiah's cousins, the Mathews brothers, work a small farm and have always dreamed of traveling. Elderly Abby Rowen desperately needs medical care she can't afford. Nancy becomes convinced another will exists, and she's desperate to help her new friends receive the money they need.

Abby says Josiah once said something about his will and a clock. Nancy goes on a hunt for the clock Abby describes, eventually convinced she'll find it in the Tophams' vacation cabin. She peeks inside the cabin to find most of the furniture has been moved. Three thieves return to the cabin just then, the same men in the moving van that nearly hit Judy. They lock Nancy in the closet and escape with most of the Tophams' things. Nancy fears she may die there until the caretaker, whom the thieves had also locked up, arrives and sets her free. They contact the state police, who help Nancy pursue the moving van. Nancy finds the van hidden off the road when the crooks stop for dinner. She sneaks into the back of the van, finds the clock, and narrowly escapes before the thieves return. She then contacts the police and helps them capture the crooks.

Nancy finds Josiah's journal inside the old clock. He writes that he has hidden his will in a safe-deposit box. With her father's help, Nancy gets the will and confirms that it is the most recent version. She's delighted to be able to tell the Turners, the Hoovers, Abby and the Mathews brothers that they've all been left large sums of money that will enable them to significantly improve their circumstances.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems

Nancy mentions luck several times, feeling she's had a lucky break or that her luck has run out.

Authority Roles

Nancy's father respects his daughter's intuition and takes time to help her solve her mysteries. He worries about her when she gets into dangerous situations while solving cases. Hannah, the housekeeper, is interested and involved in Nancy's activities. The police help Nancy immediately when she tells them about the thieves. Mrs. Topham, known for being haughty and having a shrill voice, passes on her rude behavior and sense of entitlement to her daughters. The Tophams scheme and manipulate to get Josiah to name them in his will.





Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at ThrivingFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Book reviews cover the content, themes and world-views of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

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Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

8 to 12




Carolyn Keene






Record Label



Grosset & Dunlap Publishers, a member of the Putnam & Grosset Group


On Video

Year Published




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