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The Secret of Red Gate Farm by Carolyn Keene

The Secret of Red Gate Farm (1931)

by Carolyn Keene

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Nancy Drew (6)

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Books of the Nancy Drew series certainly weren't meant for adult males, but personal circumstances have led me to read several. In general, they are pretty bad from any standpoints by which fiction is usually judged (e.g. plot, prose, believability, character development, etc.). Their social merit mainly lies in the their value as inspiration to young girls to emulate the 18-year-old Nancy herself. After all, she shows courage, determination, intelligence, and empathy, and persists in the face of danger to solve the crimes with which she's faced.
In this work, she seeks to help a woman and her daughter keep their beloved "Red Gate Farms" in the face of mortgage payments that the woman cannot afford, and despite pressure from an unscrupulous man who tries to take advantage of her plight. (Anyone who has had a mortgage payment may find it amusing how the small amount of money generated from borders suffices to keep the farm from being repossessed). The mystery relates to the nature and activities of the "Black Snake Colony" which rents some of the property. The members dress in white robes and cavort about the hillside at dusk, waving their arms and making strange sounds. As it turns out, they are a local band of counterfeiters who have a secret cave in which they mint and distribute fake money. They are masking their identity and activities by pretending to be a weird cult -- as if having ceremonies in which they dance around in masks and bedsheets is a good way to not attract attention from the locals. Of course, Nancy and her friends spy on them and are discovered and captured, and are tied up by the bad people who plan to leave them in the house "without any food" (!). However, after a flight through a cave, they are rescued by a local branch of the Secret Service. Thus Nancy and her friends live to detect in future books, with gratitude from the authorities and admiration from her father. Little wonder that books of this kind led my younger sister to want to be a Lady Detective someday.

PS. This book does nothing to get its readers over an unreasonable fear of snakes. One of the girls is bitten by a snake, and fearing that it might have been poisonous, Nancy affixes a tourniquet on the leg and opens the wound to let out the poison... ( )
1 vote danielx | May 14, 2017 |
Its funny to see them talk about $20 being a very expensive price for perfume. And how it is specious that a teenage would have $20 to spend at the Café. ( )
  nx74defiant | Apr 30, 2017 |
  SteppLibrary | Mar 8, 2017 |
This book opens as Nancy and her friends Bess and George are talking about a uncomfortable perfume purchase made by Bess. On the train ride back to River Heights, this perfume and a girl who has fainted on the train become the underpinnings for Nancy's next mystery.

I LOVED Nancy Drew growing up, I kept them neatly arranged in numerical order on my bookshelf. Noting which volumes I was still missing and planning my next shopping trip. Back then I chose my favorites by the cover art not necessarily the stories, The Spider Sapphire Mystery and the Mysterious Mannequin were my absolute favorites.

In the late 70s and early 80s the Nancy Drew mysteries were thrilling adventures and Nancy Drew a daring detective. Re-reading 30 years later not so much.

**********Spoiler Alert***********************

I try to keep in mind many of these were originally written in the 30's, but in this story I chuckled at Nancy's insistence on giving rides and taking home strangers, Mr. Drew's reaction of "well be careful" as she relates mounting threats she is experiencing from the counterfeiting ring.

Her elevation, at age 18, to almost a detective peer with Chief Mcginnis. Nancy relates to him her mysterious experiences and suspicions about this counterfeiting ring and again gets a "well be careful" and let us know if you find any clues.

The mystery itself of course is wrapped up neatly without some much as a run in her stocking, I actually do like the fact that they all have happy, "sigh-that's just the way it should have turned out", endings.

It might have been made a bit more intriguing if the elderly boarders at the Red Gate Farm were really members of the Black Snake Colony, but not to be. It might have had more suspense if when caught by the counterfeiting gang they were threatened with dismemberment or death rather than being locked in a cabin and left to starve. Although I bet it would have been hardest on Bess as she does" love her desserts".

I admit to a bit of eye rolling when reading how this extraordinary, 18 year old, girl brought down a counterfeit ring that has stumped the secret service. If only they had the sense to simply follow the clues; the rude perfume purchase, a strange comment made by a man on a train, the overhearing a series of numbers and a mysterious cult hanging about a cave. Hopefully the new head of the CIA has the same female intuition and we'll see her pull a few Nancy Drew's on the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

I do have to say these nostalgic re-reads give my long smoldering desire to write a big boos,t after all, if these have been such a smashing success for generations, could I do any worse? ( )
  mccin68 | Feb 5, 2014 |
One of my old favorites. This is the original blue roadster version that I first found in that hot summer of 1961, when I read an entire book every day from the Harvard (Nebraska) Public Library.
  MerryMary | Jun 30, 2011 |
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Carolyn Keeneprimary authorall editionscalculated
Cross, AmandaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tandy, Russell H.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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When Bess Marvin purchased an expensive bottle of Oriental perfume, she never expected to stumble into a mystery. Now Bess, Nancy, George, and their new friend Jo are out to unravel the secrets of a mysterious conspiracy, a secretive cult, and a ring of counterfeiters.
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Nancy Drew - Book 6

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