Book name: The Clue of the Leaning Chimney
Author: Carolyn Keene
Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap
Format: ebook, print
Genre: Detective fiction, vintage children’s fiction
Publication Date: 1949
Star Rating: 5/5
I just love how each Nancy Drew mystery has its own feel and focus. In the case of The Clue of the Leaning Chimney, Nancy becomes involved in pottery and antiques.
I learned so much about throwing pots and antiques, especially Chinese vases, from this book.
Nancy and Bess take a shortcut while driving home one evening. Nancy has to brake sharply to avoid hitting a man bending over something in the road.
Initially she thinks it’s an injured animal, but in fact the man has dropped a bundle containing a green porcelain vase with a red claw.
Bess immediately spots the resemblance between this vase and one in her cousin’s shop. Dick is a potter who also sells antiques. Bess has been going to classes to learn how to make pottery of her own so she knows just what to look for.
Sure enough, the vase has been stolen from Dick’s shop. It’s worth thousands of dollars, and it doesn’t even belong to him.
Nancy’s on the case straightaway. She visits the owner of the vase to learn more about it. Mr Soong also asks her father to help find two friends of his who have disappeared.
Dick also confides in Nancy that he longs to work with high-quality china clay to make the best possible pottery. This would help him to earn more and support his wife and young daughter.
Nancy is always keen to help, which is just one of the things I love about her. She’s so inspiring for caring about people and wanting to solve their problems.
Dick’s clue is only a very small one. He’s been told that a deposit of valuable china clay is to be found near a leaning chimney. But it gives our sleuth something to go on.
Nancy and Bess immerse themselves in the world of antique dealers and pottery. The Clue of the Leaning Chimney was just the sort of Nancy Drew mystery where you learn lots about something new.
It also contained plenty of physical danger for our favourite sleuth, as any Nancy Drew mystery does. The world of antiques is presented as particularly ruthless. I can well believe this.
Nancy never wavers in her determination, and I sometimes think that the greater the risks the more focused she becomes on solving the mystery.
Best of all, Togo is back. Nancy loves her dog almost as much as she loves tracking down the culprit and seeing them banged to rights.
All of the Nancy Drew mysteries were ahead of their time in portraying an empowered and confident young woman who fearlessly solves crimes. She is and has been an inspiration to generations of young women and girls.
The Clue in the Leaning Chimney was also ahead of its time in another very important way, however.
The Chinese friends of Mr Soong, a father and daughter, have been kidnapped. They have been forced to work producing modern antiques and held captive.
This is the very definition of modern slavery, something that today affects around 28 million people in the world in 2021 in the form of forced labour. Millions more besides are trapped in forced marriage, bringing the global total in 2021 for 49.6 million people in some form of modern slavery.
Well done to Nancy for helping to play her part in bringing justice to two victims of people trafficking and to Carolyn Keene for sharing a story that addresses this topic decades before most people had heard of modern slavery.
There was so much to The Clue in the Leaning Chimney, but at its core was a great story.
Thank you for reading my review.
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