The Sign of the Twisted Candles: Nancy Drew Mystery Stories #9 -- Carolyn Keene

Twisted_candles_3This was a good one.  Not only a mysterious prisoner in a tower room, but eeeeevil foster parents, a family feud, lots and lots of treasure in secret compartments, a lost child, a kidnapping, the most ridiculous family reunion/reconciliation session EVER, and more:

  • The frontispiece alone makes it worthwhile.  The caption reads: "Mr. Drew reached out to rescue Nancy" and the picture shows Nancy dangling out of a tower window above a falling ladder and Carson heroically catching her.  It you look closely at the illustration, it actually looks like Carson Drew has an Amazing Magnet Hand, because his hand isn't gripping Nancy's shoulder at all -- it's just resting on top of it.

    Actually, for Carson's Amazing Magnet Hand to work, our girl would have to have an Amazing Bionic Shoulder.  I'm okay with believing that, as there weren't any new skills listed.

    • Basic plot, from page one: "The three friends were headed for a secluded inn called The Sign of the Twisted Candles.  The Marvin family and the Faynes were related to a very old man who lived there.  Rumors had recently come from neighbors of theirs who had overheard a conversation at the inn that he was virtually a prisoner in the tower of the old-fashioned mansion."
    • So the Fayne and Marvin adults don't bother to check out the rumors.  No, the girls go.  The adults in this series -- discounting Carson, of course -- are the most unmotivated people EVER.  Yet again, a crime is committed in Hannah Gruen's presence and her solution is to call Nancy (who is out of town) rather than bother calling the (admittedly useless) police.  Also, the same security guard gets knocked out at least twice.
    • The story begins with the girls (big shock coming up) driving through the obligatory terrible storm.  They (again, big shock) have to get out and walk when a tree falls across the road.  Later, the storm also causes the obligatory disconnected phone call scene.
    • More ways to spot villains:  thin lips, heavy-set, balding, purring voice.
    • Nancy's excellent undercover skills continue:

    When she remained silent, Nancy said, "I'm Nancy Drew.  These are my friends Bess Marvin and George Fayne."  On purpose she slurred the last names so the girl would not repeat them.

    • And her impressive ability to read people:

    Asa Sidney gave a mirthless laugh.  "The only reason I have lived to be a hundred is because I have not died!"

    Nancy shuddered a little.  Plainly Mr. Sidney was far from happy.

    • And her excellent sleuthing skills:

    The man looked about him, studied the windows of the house carefully, and then began to dig quickly.

    "He's going to bury something!" Nancy speculated.

    I have to admit, though, the next bit made me want to cheer -- after seeing Mr. Jemitt bury the chest, Nancy sneaks outside, digs the chest up, drags it to her car, brings it to the bank (surviving the obligatory car chase on the way) and deposits it into the vault.  Because, you know.  You gotta keep yer clues safe.

    • As gorgeous and unforgettable as Nancy Drew is supposed to be, she sure has a lot of doubles -- when she walks into the tower room, the 100-year-old prisoner thinks she's his dead wife.
    • A restaurant that has bells on the tables to signal waitstaff?  Is that a Before My Time thing, or am I going to the wrong restaurants?
    • I never thought I'd see the day where the chums split up.  Page 22 is the first time Bess and George learn of the feud between Asa Sidney and their families.  By page 71, they both hate Nancy because they're convinced that she and her father are trying to bilk them out of an inheritance.
    • Bess didn't go too food-crazy this time.  There was only a cinnamon toast incident, and this (which I loved):

    All drained their glasses of fruit punch, Bess looking wistfully at the maraschino cherry which obstinately remained in the bottom of her glass.

    • Nancy gets physical:

    Nancy was in a quandary.  She knew her father would never touch the woman.  If Mrs. Jemitt was to be forcibly removed from the stairway, she would have to do it!

    With the speed of a panther Nancy grabbed Mrs. Jemitt's arms and swung her around out of the way.

    Later, Mrs. Jemitt retaliates by attempting to beat Nancy with a hairbrush!  Good times. 

    • I, also, find these to be attractive qualities in a person:

    "I love old Mr. Sidney.  He's so friendless and pathetic."

    I'm running out of time here, but seriously.  This one is AWESOME.

    • Next up:  Password to Larkspur Lane