Beyond River Heights: Four Books for Nancy Drew Fans

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I came to the Nancy Drew books pretty late in life—I’d read a few as a kid, but only really started reading them with semi-regularity in my late-‘20s—and I am a huge fan.

I love that she knows how to do everything. 

I love that we get the details of all of the huge meals she and Bess and George eat.

I love how Bess makes googly-eyes at pretty much every boy she sets eyes on, and I love complaining about how George always gets stuck carrying the luggage. (Also, I am so happy to know that I am clearly not the only one out there who ships Bess and George.)

I love that cases fall from the sky into Nancy’s lap. (In Password to Larkspur Lane, this happens LITERALLY).

I love that the villains are all easily-identifiable by their rudeness (though it must be noted that I am far less enamored of how often they are described as ‘swarthy’ or ‘foreign’).

I even sort of love that Carson Drew’s personality varies wildly from completely blasé about his daughter’s various life-threatening adventures to weirdly, uncomfortably skeevy towards every teenage girl in the vicinity.

As much as I love them, though, I tend to space them out as reads—partly because they’re so formulaic, and partly because there’s a finite number of the old ones. So here are a few other related titles that I’ve interspersed into my TBR pile:


case of the not so nice nurse by mabel maneyThe Case of the Not-So-Nice Nurse: A Nancy Clue and Cherry Aimless Mystery and The Case of the Good-for-Nothing Girlfriend: A Nancy Clue and Cherry Aimless Mystery, by Mabel Maney

Speaking of shipping Bess and George—these are lesbian parodies about Nancy Drew and Cherry Ames! I swoon. There’s a third title that features Maney’s version of the Hardy Boys, too: Nancy Clue and the Hardly Boys in a Ghost in the Closet. I need to buy ALL THREE.

(Semi-related: Maney has also written a couple of books about Jane Bond, James’ lesbian twin sister: Kiss the Girls and Make Them Spy, and The Girl with the Golden Bouffant.)

Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her, by Melanie Rehak

This is a history of Nancy Drew and the Stratemeyer Syndicate—the packaging company behind not only Nancy Drew, but also The Hardy Boys and The Bobbsey Twins and Tom Swift—and the two women who had the biggest influences on her stories: Harriet Stratemeyer Adams and Mildred Wirt Benson.


Rediscovering Nancy Drew, edited by Carolyn Stewart Dyer and Nancy Tillman Romalov

A Nancy Drew-themed collection of essays and interviews with writers and scholars and librarians. It has an entire section devoted to the problematic representation and stereotyping in the books, which is something that—and again, I say this as a fan—
needs to be both acknowledged and discussed.

by the light of the study lamp - dana girls 1 - by carolyn keeneBy the Light of the Study Lamp, by Carolyn Keene

DID YOU KNOW THAT CAROLYN KEENE ALSO WROTE A MYSTERY SERIES SET IN A BOARDING SCHOOL? ME, NEITHER! And we’re not just talking about three or four books—there are a WHOLE TON of them.

(Yes, yes, I know that Carolyn Keene wasn’t a real person, etc., etc. But as the Syndicate used the Carolyn Keene name on it, it was a series that was clearly geared towards the Nancy Drew market.)

Are you a Nancy Drew fan? Did you grow up with her, or did you come to her as an adult? Are you more of a Bess, a George, or a Nancy? Do you have a favorite adventure, or another related reading recommendation? Who’s your pick for the best modern descendant of our favorite titian-haired sleuth? And finally, how do you feel about the news about the upcoming television show?