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Mystery Book Club - Past Titles: July 2023

Titles from the Mystery Book Club at the Islington Branch *No longer an active club*

"The Secret of the Old Clock" by Carolyn Keene

  1. Who is your favorite character in "The Secret of the Old Clock" and why?
  2. How would you describe Nancy Drew as a protagonist? Did you find her character relatable or intriguing?
  3. What did you think of the plot twists and turns in the book? Were they predictable or did they surprise you?
  4. Did you find the mystery in "The Secret of the Old Clock" engaging? What elements of the mystery did you find most intriguing?
  5. How did the setting of the book contribute to the overall atmosphere and tone? Did it enhance or detract from the story?
  6. Were there any themes or messages in the book that resonated with you? If so, what were they?
  7. How did the supporting characters contribute to the story? Were they well-developed and interesting?
  8. What did you think of Carolyn Keene's writing style? Did it effectively convey the story and keep you engaged?
  9. Did the book meet your expectations as a mystery novel? Were there any aspects that you felt could have been improved?
  10. How did the book compare to other Nancy Drew novels you have read? Did it stand out in any particular way?
  11. Remember, "The Secret of the Old Clock" is the first book in the Nancy Drew series, originally published in 1930. It may be interesting to discuss the book's historical context and its impact on subsequent mystery novels aimed at young readers.
  • Carolyn Keene is the pseudonymous author behind the beloved Nancy Drew mystery series, which has captivated readers of all ages for decades. The true identity of Carolyn Keene is a subject of mystery and intrigue itself, as the name has been used by a number of different writers over the years. 
  • However, the original Carolyn Keene is believed to be Mildred Wirt Benson, a talented writer who made significant contributions to the Nancy Drew series. 
  • Mildred Augustine was born on July 10, 1905, in Ladora, Iowa. 
  • From a young age, she exhibited a passion for writing, and her talent was recognized by her high school English teacher, who encouraged her to pursue a career in journalism. 
  • Following this advice, Mildred went on to study at the University of Iowa, where she earned a degree in English. 
  • After graduating from college, Mildred began working as a journalist for the Toledo Times newspaper in Ohio. 
  • It was during her time as a reporter that she received an invitation to write for the Stratemeyer Syndicate, a publishing group known for producing popular series books. 
  • Edward Stratemeyer, the founder of the syndicate, sought a talented writer to develop a new mystery series featuring a female protagonist. Mildred accepted the challenge and became the ghostwriter for the Nancy Drew series under the pen name Carolyn Keene. 
  • Mildred Wirt Benson wrote the first Nancy Drew book, "The Secret of the Old Clock," which was published in 1930. 
  • Her writing style and strong, independent characterization of Nancy Drew immediately resonated with readers, and the series became an instant success. 
  • Mildred continued to write numerous Nancy Drew books throughout the 1930s, infusing each story with thrilling adventures, clever detective work, and a dose of feminist empowerment. 
  • As Carolyn Keene, Mildred Wirt Benson authored 23 Nancy Drew books in total. 
  • Her contributions to the series were notable for their vivid descriptions, fast-paced plots, and compelling characters. 
  • However, due to a contractual agreement with the Stratemeyer Syndicate, Mildred never received royalties for her work on the Nancy Drew series. 
  • In addition to her work on Nancy Drew, Mildred enjoyed a varied and successful writing career. 
  • She worked as a reporter, columnist, and editor for various newspapers throughout her life. 
  • She also wrote other series books and contributed to magazines, often under her own name. 
  • Her remarkable career spanned several decades, and she continued to write well into her 90s. 
  • Mildred Wirt Benson passed away on May 28, 2002, at the age of 96. Her legacy as Carolyn Keene, the original author of the Nancy Drew series, remains unparalleled. 
  • Her timeless stories have inspired generations of readers, and Nancy Drew has become an iconic character in the world of detective fiction. 
  • Mildred's talent, dedication, and contribution to children's literature have left an indelible mark, and her work as Carolyn Keene will continue to captivate readers for years to come.

There are over 170 books in the original Nancy Drew series and numerous spin-offs and special editions.

  • Nancy Drew Mystery Stories (1930–2003; 175 titles + 8 revisions with different stories)
    • Seven special titles released between 1973 and 1985.
    • Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys: Be A Detective Mystery Stories (1984–1985; 6 titles)
  • Nancy Drew: Girl Detective (2004–2012; 47 titles + 3 "Super Mysteries")
    • Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys Super Mystery (2007) (2007–2012; 6 titles)
  • Nancy Drew Diaries (2013-present; 23 titles + 1 special + 1 upcoming)
  • The Nancy Drew Files (1986–1997; 124 titles)
    • Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys Super Mystery (1989–1998; 36 titles)
    • River Heights (1989–1992; 16 titles + 1 "Super Sizzler")
  • Nancy Drew on Campus (1995–1998; 25 titles)
  • Nancy Drew Notebooks (1994–2005; 69 titles)
  • Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew (2006–2015; 40 titles)
  • Nancy Drew Clue Book (2015-present; 16 titles + 2 upcoming)
  • Nancy Drew: Girl Detective (2005–2010; 21 titles + 3 "New Case Files")
    • Rereleased under the Nancy Drew Diaries banner, with 10 collections of two titles a book
  • Nancy Drew Omnibus Vol. 1 (March 2021)
  • Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys: The Big Lie (March–August 2017; 6 issues)
  • Nancy Drew (June–October 2018; 5 issues)
  • Nancy Drew: The Palace of Wisdom (Trade paperback: February 2019; Hardcover: January 2020)
  • Nancy Drew & The Hardy Boys: The Mystery of the Missing Adults! (July 2019)
  • Nancy Drew & The Hardy Boys: The Death of Nancy Drew (April–November 2020; 6 issues)



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