Book name: The Whispering Statue
Author: Carolyn Keene
Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap
Format: ebook, print
Genre: Detective fiction, vintage children’s fiction
Publication Date: 1937
Star Rating: 5/5
So often it is location that helps make a Nancy Drew mystery so special: that and Nancy and her pals. That’s certainly the case with The Whispering Statue, which was re-published in 1970 by Grosset and Dunlap.
The Whispering Statue Nancy Drew mystery was originally published in 1937. The republished version in 1970 was a very different story published under the same name.
So I’m going to be clear from the outset that I am reviewing my 1972 Armada Books version to avoid any confusion. That was the UK imprint of the 1970 story.
Nancy, George and Bess are invited to go along on one of Nancy’s father’s business trips and make a holiday of it.
Sea Cliff is a pleasant enough resort, the girls make friends there and enjoy swimming in the sea, and of course Nancy is already on the trail of a mystery when she overhears a sharp-eyed young man try to wheedle his way into the confidence of a rich old woman on the train.
Carson Drew is busy trying to help his client, Mr Owen, and he becomes concerned for Mr Owen’s safety and brings him to Sea Cliff where Nancy can keep an eye on him.
As The Whispering Statue continues, Nancy is determined to track down Miss Morse, the old woman who spurned her help on the train, and prevent her from being defrauded. But Miss Morse proves almost impossible to find.
A social drive takes Nancy and her pals to Old Estate, an abandoned house and garden perched precariously on the cliffs. There a marble statue of a young woman, which bears a noticeable resemblance to Nancy, is reputed to talk.
Nancy’s practical explanation that the wind by the cliff makes the sound of a human voice at times doesn’t dull our sense of mystery. Where is the heiress to Old Estate, will she come to claim her home before it topples into the ocean and where has she been all these years?
I liked the holiday feel of The Whispering Statue, which was very atmospheric. There were numerous plot strands and, like any good Nancy Drew mystery, they came together eventually in inventive ways that made the book a delight to read.
Nancy’s mini-adventure in the park before leaving River Heights for her holiday with George and Bess was brought seamlessly into the final resolution, as was Carson Drew’s client Mr Owen.
Those are the best kind of Nancy Drew mysteries: difficult to predict but simultaneously entirely credible.
The 1937 book is recognisably the same story, so I can understand why the title was retained. However, the 1970 version was heavily reworked to feature fewer characters and to rely less heavily on coincidence to complete the story.
This reworking produced a tight narrative, featuring all our favourite elements of a Nancy Drew mystery while still ostensibly telling the same story. I enjoyed it very much.
Thank you for reading my review of The Whispering Statue by Carolyn Keene.
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If you’ve enjoyed this review, you might be interested reading in my review of The Clue in the Ancient Disguise
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If you fancy something different, you might like to take a chance on my review of The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall.