Book name: The Bluebeard Room
Author: Carolyn Keene
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Format: Print, ebook
Genre: Vintage children’s book
Publication Date: 1985
Star Rating: 4/5
The Bluebeard Room is the 77th Nancy Drew Mystery Story. It was published in 1985 as part of the Wanderer editions.
The Bluebeard Room has a notably modern style that helps to bridge the gap between the original Nancy Drew Mystery Stories and the subsequent Nancy Drew Files.
Nancy, George and Bess are visiting Nancy’s aunt Eloise in New York. At a social event in Long Island, they meet rock star Lance Warrick.
Nancy isn’t at all taken with the rock star, and her misgivings deepen when she discovers that a bag of cocaine has been planted in her bag. She reports this to the police.
While at the social event, Nancy is asked by an old friend to investigate the reasons for her daughter’s ill health. Mrs Harwood suspects fouls play.
The commission takes Nancy to England. She travels alone, but is soon joined by Lance Warrick. The newspapers have a field day connecting the two romantically.
Nancy is enjoying the chance to date other people since she and Ned have agreed to do so for a while. They had found themselves taking each other for granted.
Mrs Harwood’s daughter Lisa has married into a titled family in Cornwall, England. Nancy makes her way down there, after having become aware that one of Lance’s friends has been staying locally.
Lance’s friend is struggling to kick a drug habit, and together with the cocaine planted in Nancy’s bag we feel a sinister atmosphere of drug use becoming central to the story.
Nancy is delighted to see Lisa again, but she’s very concerned to see her friend’s poor health and to hear how unwelcome she has been made to feel in the area.
Marrying an English aristocrat and moving across the Atlantic isn’t a simple matter, as many Victorian and Edwardian novels attest.
Nancy is determined to solve the mystery, and she obtains a sample of herbal restorative given to Lisa by one of her local friends. Nancy hands this over to the local doctor, who subsequently claims it is harmless.
The annoyance of having her name bandied about in print alongside a feckless rock star doesn’t get to Nancy, but she doesn’t appreciate it when a reporter hangs around the town either.
However, as so often happens, Nancy sees the truth in people. She remains open minded about Alan Trevor, and he becomes her ally in the quest for truth.
I loved the freshness of The Bluebeard Room. We are used to seeing Nancy travel far away from her native River Heights in order to solve mysteries, but a trip across the Atlantic sent our heroine off in a fresh direction indeed.
The locations (a castle and a small Cornish village) were evocatively created, and the longstanding friendship between Lisa and Nancy meant that the personal element was successfully retained.
The Bluebeard Room had a very different feel to older Nancy Drew Mystery Stories, but seen in the context of the transition to the Nancy Drew Files this can be interpreted as one of the book’s strengths.
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