Blog Tour Review: Stranger in the Lake

Title: Stranger in the Lake
Author: Kimberly Belle
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Publisher: Park Row
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: June 9, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

When Charlotte married the wealthy widower Paul, it caused a ripple of gossip in their small lakeside town. They have a charmed life together, despite the cruel whispers about her humble past and his first marriage. But everything starts to unravel when she discovers a young woman’s body floating in the exact same spot where Paul’s first wife tragically drowned.

At first, it seems like a horrific coincidence, but the stranger in the lake is no stranger. Charlotte saw Paul talking to her the day before, even though Paul tells the police he’s never met the woman. His lie exposes cracks in their fragile new marriage, cracks Charlotte is determined to keep from breaking them in two.

As Charlotte uncovers dark mysteries about the man she married, she doesn’t know what to trust—her heart, which knows Paul to be a good man, or her growing suspicion that there’s something he’s hiding in the water.

Review:

Charlotte is known in town for marrying the wealthy widower, Paul, who is ten years older than her. On the day that she tells Paul that she’s pregnant, she sees him talking to a stranger in town. The next morning, the stranger’s body shows up in the lake, under the dock at their house. Charlotte lies for her husband, but she ends up unraveling secrets and lies that are decades old.

I love stories set in small towns with a dark history. There were a few other mysterious deaths in this town that were brought up during the investigation of the stranger’s death. There was a death of a drug dealer twenty years ago, as well as the death of Paul’s ex-wife. These were all mysterious deaths that weren’t solved sufficiently for the public, so they were brought up again in this story.

There were some parts of the story that were difficult to read. Charlotte’s mother had a substance abuse problem. The scenes that involved children as well as the drugs were upsetting. However, it added some depth to the story and explained Charlotte’s decisions.

The ending of the story was kind of complicated. I figured out one of the guilty characters fairly early on in the story. I felt like the original mystery of the stranger in the lake was lost with all the other mysteries. There was a lot more going on in the story, so that mystery ended up being pushed to the side and wasn’t as important at the end of the story. I would have liked it more if it had focused on the main mystery, which was also the title of the book.

Thank you HarperCollins for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Dear Wife by Kimberly Belle

Sister Dear by Hannah Mary McKinnon

About the Author:

Kimberly Belle is the USA Today and internationally bestselling author of six novels, including the forthcoming Stranger in the Lake (June 2020). Her third novel, The Marriage Lie, was a semifinalist in the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Mystery & Thriller, and a #1 e-book bestseller in the UK and Italy. She’s sold rights to her books in a dozen languages as well as film and television options. A graduate of Agnes Scott College, Belle divides her time between Atlanta and Amsterdam.

Have you read Stranger in the Lake? What did you think of it?

Blog Tour Review: This is How I Lied

Title: This is How I Lied
Author: Heather Gudenkauf
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: Park Row
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: May 12, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Gudenkauf proves herself the master of the smart, suspenseful small-town thriller that gets right under your skin.” —Gilly Macmillan, New York Times bestselling author of The Nanny 

Everyone has a secret they’ll do anything to hide…

Twenty-five years ago, the body of sixteen-year-old Eve Knox was found in the caves near her home in small-town Grotto, Iowa—discovered by her best friend, Maggie, and her sister, Nola. There were a handful of suspects, including her boyfriend, Nick, but without sufficient evidence the case ultimately went cold.

For decades Maggie was haunted by Eve’s death and that horrible night. Now a detective in Grotto, and seven months pregnant, she is thrust back into the past when a new piece of evidence surfaces and the case is reopened. As Maggie investigates and reexamines the clues, secrets about what really happened begin to emerge. But someone in town knows more than they’re letting on, and they’ll stop at nothing to keep the truth buried deep.

Review:

Twenty-five years ago, Eve Knox was found murdered in the caves near her house. She was just fifteen years old. Now, her former best friend, Maggie, is a detective who is assigned to reopen the cold case with new evidence. Eve’s abusive boyfriend was one of the main suspects, though there wasn’t any evidence that he killed her. Eve had a strange younger sister, Nola, who was fascinated by dead animals and their anatomy. Maggie has to investigate this murder, while also keeping her own secrets.

This story was told from three different points of view. Eve’s story was from the day she was killed. Maggie and Nola’s perspectives were in the present, as Maggie investigates the murder. My favourite parts were Maggie’s chapters because those were the ones that really moved the story forward. Eve’s chapters were a little slow because they followed her actions of her final day, and Nola’s were creepy because she was fascinated by dead things.

I loved the unique format of the story. At just over the halfway point of the book, the killer was revealed. Since it only about halfway through, I knew there must be more to the story. There was still loads of tension until the end, when the details of the murder were revealed.

I really enjoyed this thriller!

Thank you HarperCollins for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Still Mine by Amy Stuart

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

About the Author:

Heather Gudenkauf is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of many books, including The Weight of Silence and These Things Hidden. Heather graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in elementary education, has spent her career working with students of all ages. She lives in Iowa with her husband, three children, and a very spoiled German Shorthaired Pointer named Lolo. In her free time, Heather enjoys spending time with her family, reading, hiking, and running. 

Have you read This is How I Lied? What did you think of it?

Blog Tour Review: Truths I Never Told You

Title: Truths I Never Told You
Author: Kelly Rimmer
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Publisher: Graydon House
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: April 14, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

From the bestselling author of The Things We Cannot Saycomes a poignant novel about the fault in memories and the lies that can bond a family together—or tear it apart.

With her father recently moved to a care facility for his worsening dementia, Beth Walsh volunteers to clear out the family home and is surprised to discover the door to her childhood playroom padlocked. She’s even more shocked at what’s behind it—a hoarder’s mess of her father’s paintings, mounds of discarded papers and miscellaneous junk in the otherwise fastidiously tidy house.

As she picks through the clutter, she finds a loose journal entry in what appears to be her late mother’s handwriting. Beth and her siblings grew up believing their mother died in a car accident when they were little more than toddlers, but this note suggests something much darker. Beth soon pieces together a disturbing portrait of a woman suffering from postpartum depression and a husband who bears little resemblance to the loving father Beth and her siblings know. With a newborn of her own and struggling with motherhood, Beth finds there may be more tying her and her mother together than she ever suspected.

Exploring the expectations society places on women of every generation, Kelly Rimmer explores the profound struggles two women unwittingly share across the decades set within an engrossing family mystery that may unravel everything they believed to be true. 

Review:

Beth has been struggling since she had her son. She doesn’t know why she hasn’t adjusted to motherhood, but she’s uncomfortable with this new life. Her stress gets worse when her and her siblings have to move her father, who has dementia, into a nursing home. Beth volunteers to clean out his house, where she finds some secrets about her mother. Beth’s mother, Grace, married young against her parents’ wishes. She quickly has children, and she also has trouble adjusting to this new life. However, parts of Beth’s memory and Grace’s story don’t add up. Beth has to figure out what happened to her mother, while dealing with her own struggles.

This story had two perspectives: Beth in 1996 and Grace in 1957. They have similar experiences with depression after they have children, but they don’t know how to ask for help. When Grace asks for help, she’s told she needs to be stronger. Beth is scared to ask for help because her job as a psychologist could be compromised if she is diagnosed with depression. Though their stories take place forty years apart, they still have the same challenges.

There were feminist themes in this book. Some of the issues were abortion, contraception, and postpartum depression. Between the two storylines, there was some progression, though there still was a stigma attached to these things. Even today, the stigma is still there. Someone like Grace would get more help for her depression than she got in 1957, but I imagine that someone in Beth’s position would still have a problem with being diagnosed with depression as a psychologist. The world has improved for women since Grace’s time, but it isn’t perfect yet.

This was an emotional and moving historical novel.

Thank you HarperCollins for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Before I Let You Go by Kelly Rimmer

Recipe for a Perfect Wife by Karma Brown

Author Info:

Kelly Rimmer is the worldwide and USA TODAY bestselling author of Before I Let You Go, Me Without You, and The Secret Daughter. She lives in rural Australia with her husband, two children and fantastically naughty dogs, Sully and Basil. Her novels have been translated into more than twenty languages. Please visit her at www.Kelly.Rimmer.com 

Have you read Truths I Never Told You? What did you think of it?

Review: Nancy Drew: The Curse

Title: Nancy Drew: The Curse
Author: Micol Ostow
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: March 31, 2020
Rating: ★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Based on the TV series Nancy Drew, the most-watched new show on the CW!

In this prequel novel, the beloved teen sleuth investigates a sinister, once-dormant curse that may be threatening her town once more. This is Nancy Drew for today, perfect for fans of RiverdaleThe Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and Stranger Things!

A curse is just a mystery dressed up in a sharp, stern warning. 

And everyone knows that I love a mystery.

Nancy Drew isn’t one for ghost stories. So when the annual Horseshoe Bay Naming Day celebration is threatened by eerie warnings of an old curse, Nancy is sure someone—someone human—is behind them. And no way is she letting this person stand in the way of her best friend, Daisy, finally getting her day in the spotlight as the lead in the much-anticipated Naming Day reenactment.

But as Nancy begins investigating, the so-called marks of the curse become bolder…and more sinister. A vandalized locker and ominous notes are one thing, but soon enough lives—including Nancy’s own—are at stake. Though the dreams and eerie visions plaguing Nancy are certainly just products of her own mind…right?

All old towns have their traditions and histories, but as Nancy will soon discover, they don’t always tell the whole story. 

Review:

The town of Horseshoe Bay is having their annual Naming Day celebration, where they celebrate the creation of their town. Nancy and her friends are excited for it, especially since one of her friends is going to participate in the play because she is a descendant of one of the founders. However, someone starts to pull pranks, trying to get the celebration cancelled. The pranks escalate until students go missing. Nancy has to figure out what has happened to save her friends.

This was an interesting mystery with Nancy Drew. It takes place a couple of years before the show is set, so we see Nancy in high school when her mom was still alive. She was interested in investigating mysteries even back then.

The main problem with this book is that it had nothing to do with the show. This story was advertised as a prequel to the TV series, which is technically true since it happens before the show starts. However, the characters in this book don’t exist on the show. Nancy’s friends on the show briefly appeared in the book, while people who were her lifelong friends in the book haven’t even been mentioned on the TV show. There was even a part where Nancy said that the story of Lucy Sable wasn’t worth investigating, even though that was one of the main mysteries on the show. It was quite confusing, because I kept trying to connect this book to the show, though they seem like completely different stories.

If this book had been advertised as a new, original Nancy Drew book, it would have been so much better. It really doesn’t work as a prequel to the TV show.

What to read next:

The Day Before (Riverdale #1) by Micol Ostow

Have you read Nancy Drew: The Curse? What did you think of it?

Review: A Conspiracy of Bones (Temperance Brennan #19)

Title: A Conspiracy of Bones (Temperance Brennan #19)
Author: Kathy Reichs
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: March 17, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

#1 New York Times bestselling author Kathy Reichs returns with a new riveting novel featuring her vastly popular character forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan, who must use all her tradecraft to discover the identity of a faceless corpse, its connection to a decade-old missing child case, and why the dead man had her cell phone number.

It’s sweltering in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Temperance Brennan, still recovering from neurosurgery following an aneurysm, is battling nightmares, migraines, and what she thinks might be hallucinations when she receives a series of mysterious text messages, each containing a new picture of a corpse that is missing its face and hands. Immediately, she’s anxious to know who the dead man is, and why the images were sent to her.

An identified corpse soon turns up, only partly answering her questions.

To win answers to the others, including the man’s identity, she must go rogue, working mostly outside the system. That’s because Tempe’s new boss holds a fierce grudge against her and is determined to keep her out of the case. Tempe bulls forward anyway, even as she begins questioning her instincts. But the clues she discovers are disturbing and confusing. Was the faceless man a spy? A trafficker? A target for assassination by the government? And why was he carrying the name of a child missing for almost a decade?

With help from a number of law enforcement associates including her Montreal beau Andrew Ryan and the always-ready-with-a-smart-quip, ex-homicide investigator Skinny Slidell, and utilizing new cutting-edge forensic methods, Tempe draws closer to the astonishing truth.

But the more she uncovers, the darker and more twisted the picture becomes… 

Review:

In this book, Temperance enters a world of conspiracy theories. A faceless man turns up at the morgue, which Temperance is forbidden from working in from the new doctor. She starts her own investigation, which leads her to discover child abuse, missing children, and conspiracy theories, all while dealing with her own health issues.

One thing that Temperance always does is follow her own rules. She didn’t have permission to do a lot of the investigating that she did in this book, but she did it regardless. This was sometimes a problem, because she got in trouble or lost valuable clues.

This book also had some eerie mentions of pandemics. Those mentions follow the conspiracy theories in the book, but it was creepy to read mentions about pandemics and SARS in a book when we are currently experiencing a pandemic in the world.

I love learning about the sources for stories. At the end of this book, Kathy Reichs talks about the real new stories that she borrowed from for this novel. She also has a personal connection to Temperance, which was touching to read about.

This was a great Bones story.

Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Two Nights by Kathy Reichs

Keep Her Safe by K.A. Tucker

Have you read A Conspiracy of Bones? What did you think of it?

Review: The Body Under the Piano

Title: The Body Under the Piano (Aggie Morton, Mystery Queen #1)
Author: Marthe Jocelyn
Genre: Middle Grade, Mystery, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Penguin Random House Canada
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: February 4, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A smart and charming middle-grade mystery series starring young detective Aggie Morton and her friend Hector, inspired by the imagined life of Agatha Christie as a child and her most popular creation, Hercule Poirot. For fans of Lemony Snicket and The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency.

Aggie Morton lives in a small town on the coast of England in 1902. Adventurous and imaginative but deeply shy, Aggie hasn’t got much to do since the death of her beloved father . . . until the fateful day when she crosses paths with twelve-year-old Belgian immigrant Hector Perot and discovers a dead body on the floor of the Mermaid Dance Room! As the number of suspects grows and the murder threatens to tear the town apart, Aggie and her new friend will need every tool at their disposal — including their insatiable curiosity, deductive skills and not a little help from their friends — to solve the case before Aggie’s beloved dance instructor is charged with a crime Aggie is sure she didn’t commit.

Filled with mystery, adventure, an unforgettable heroine and several helpings of tea and sweets, The Body Under the Piano is the clever debut of a new series for middle-grade readers and Christie and Poirot fans everywhere, from a Governor General’s Award–nominated author of historical fiction for children.

Review:

This story imagines what Agatha Christie would have been like as a child solving mysteries. Along with her new friend from Belgium, Hector Perot, she investigates a body found under the piano at her dance studio.

This mystery was suspenseful and unpredictable. I couldn’t figure out who was the murderer, so I was surprised at the end. One of the most important clues was saved until right before the end, so there wasn’t any way to figure it out until then, but I was still surprised.

I wish this book was around when I was a kid. I loved Agatha Christie and Nancy Drew mysteries. This book combines them, with a young detective, who is also an inspiring writer.

I loved this first book in the Aggie Morton series. I’m excited to read the next one!

Thank you Penguin Random House Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events #1) by Lemony Snicket

Queen of the Sea by Dylan Meconis

Have you read The Body Under the Stairs? What did you think of it?

Review: As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust (Flavia de Luce #7)

Title: As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust (Flavia de Luce #7)
Author: Alan Bradley
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Source: Library
Format: Audiobook
Release Date: January 6, 2015
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Flavia de Luce—“part Harriet the Spy, part Violet Baudelaire from Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events” (The New York Times Book Review)—takes her remarkable sleuthing prowess to the unexpectedly unsavory world of Canadian boarding schools in the captivating new mystery from New York Times bestselling author Alan Bradley.

Banished! is how twelve-year-old Flavia de Luce laments her predicament, when her father and Aunt Felicity ship her off to Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy, the boarding school that her mother, Harriet, once attended across the sea in Canada. The sun has not yet risen on Flavia’s first day in captivity when a gift lands at her feet. Flavia being Flavia, a budding chemist and sleuth, that gift is a charred and mummified body, which tumbles out of a bedroom chimney. Now, while attending classes, making friends (and enemies), and assessing the school’s stern headmistress and faculty (one of whom is an acquitted murderess), Flavia is on the hunt for the victim’s identity and time of death, as well as suspects, motives, and means. Rumors swirl that Miss Bodycote’s is haunted, and that several girls have disappeared without a trace. When it comes to solving multiple mysteries, Flavia is up to the task—but her true destiny has yet to be revealed.

Review:

I love the Flavia de Luce mysteries. She is a hilarious twelve year old girl in the 1950s, who loves chemistry. She stumbles upon mysteries wherever she goes. In this story, she travels to Toronto to attend her mother’s former school. She discovers a body stuffed in the fireplace of her room the first night she is there. She spends the rest of the book snooping to figure out what happened.

I loved this audiobook. The narrator, Jane Entwhistle, was amazing. She had the best voice for Flavia, and the voices she did for the Canadian characters were great too. I really liked how slowly she spoke. It gave me time to listen to the story and understand what was happening. Sometimes audiobook narrators speak so quickly that I have a hard time following the story, but her pacing was great.

I didn’t like the ending of the story. There wasn’t really any way for the reader to figure out what had happened. It felt rushed, with many of the mysteries being uncovered at once.

I really enjoyed this audiobook! I’ll definitely have to listen to more Flavia de Luce audiobooks!

What to read next:

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d (Flavia de Luce #8) by Alan Bradley

Have you read As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust? What did you think of it?

Review: Bury the Lede

Title: Bury the Lede
Author: Gaby Dunn, Claire Roe
Genre: Graphic Novel, Mystery, LGBT
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: October, 8, 2019
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Twenty-one-year-old Madison T. Jackson is already the star of the Emerson College student newspaper when she nabs a coveted night internship at Boston’s premiere newspaper, The Boston Lede. The job’s simple: do whatever the senior reporters tell you to do, from fetching coffee to getting a quote from a grieving parent. It’s grueling work, so when the murder of a prominent Boston businessman comes up on the police scanner, Madison races to the scene of the grisly crime. There, Madison meets the woman who will change her life forever: prominent socialite Dahlia Kennedy, who is covered in gore and being arrested for the murder of her family. The newspapers put everyone they can in front of her with no results until, with nothing to lose, Madison gets a chance – and unexpectedly barrels headfirst into danger she never anticipated.

Review:

This graphic novel follows a reporter investigating a high profile murder in Boston. Dahlia Kennedy is suspected of killing her husband and kidnapping her son. For some reason, Dahlia would only speak to Madison, the intern for a newspaper. Madison springs to fame with her reporting on the murder, but it comes at a cost to her personal life.

This was an exciting story. There was a lot of depth to the story. There were many different aspects of Madison’s life that were shown, including her work and her family life. It often conflicted because her brother was a politician. The murder story was complicated, which kept me guessing until the end.

I really enjoyed this graphic novel.

Thank you BOOM! Studios for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

I Hate Everyone But You by Gaby Dunn, Allison Raskin

Have you read Bury the Lede? What did you think of it?

Review: The Widow of Pale Harbor

Title: The Widow of Pale Harbor
Author: Hester Fox
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Publisher: Graydon House Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: September 17, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A town gripped by fear. A woman accused of witchcraft. Who can save Pale Harbor from itself?

Maine, 1846. Gabriel Stone is desperate to escape the ghosts that haunt him in Massachusetts after his wife’s death, so he moves to Maine, taking a position as a minister in the remote village of Pale Harbor.

But not all is as it seems in the sleepy town. Strange, unsettling things have been happening, and the townspeople claim that only one person can be responsible: Sophronia Carver, a reclusive widow who lives with a spinster maid in the eerie Castle Carver. Sophronia must be a witch, and she almost certainly killed her husband.

As the incidents escalate, one thing becomes clear: they are the work of a twisted person inspired by the wildly popular stories of Mr. Edgar Allan Poe. And Gabriel must find answers, or Pale Harbor will suffer a fate worthy of Poe’s darkest tales.

Review:

This is a thrilling read for the fall!

I love Edgar Allen Poe stories, especially at this time of year. In this story, someone copied the gruesome murders from his stories in an attempt to scare Sophronia. It was so creepy, but it was also exciting to recognize these elements of his stories.

This story was so fast paced! I couldn’t put it down. There were lots of events that happened quickly, such as the threats against Sophronia. The mystery of Sophronia’s and Gabriel’s secret pasts we’re slowly revealed throughout the story, so it kept me guessing. I loved the twists at the end when the culprit was revealed!

I loved this book! It’s the perfect read for a cold autumn evening!

Thank you Graydon House Books for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox

Tidelands (The Fairmile #1) by Philippa Gregory

Have you read The Widow of Pale Harbor? What did you think of it?

Review: The Secret of the Old Clock

Title: The Secret of the Old Clock
Author: Carolyn Keene
Genre: Children’s, Mystery
Publisher: Grosset & Dunlop
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: 1930
Rating: ★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Nancy, unaided, seeks to find a missing will. To the surprise of many, the Topham family will inherit wealthy Josiah Crowley’s fortune, instead of deserving relatives and friends who were promised inheritances. Nancy determines that a clue to a second will might be found in an old clock Mr. Crowley had owned and she seeks to find the timepiece. Her search not only tests her keen mind, but also leads her into a thrilling adventure.

Review:

It’s been many years since I first read this book. I recently watched the walkthrough on YouTube for the game version, and I wanted to read the book again. It wasn’t my favourite Nancy Drew game, so I was curious to revisit the book.

It may be my modern way of thinking, but I found the characters way too trusting. All of them told Nancy their financial troubles right after meeting her. It seemed strange for them to tell her all of their business immediately. I know it’s fiction, but it was so unrealistic and unusual.

Though some parts of this story were unrealistic, it is still a classic because it is the beginning of Nancy Drew’s mysteries.

What to read next:

The Hidden Staircase by Carolyn Keene

Have you read The Secret of the Old Clock? What did you think of it?