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I realize that the ND stories are meant for "young readers" but, as an older reader, I still love to read them. I've read several and they all have different story lines and are quick reads. It's refreshing to find books written before sex and foul language make up for weak story lines.
This volume introduces us to Nancy's faithful chums, Bess Marvin and George Fayne.
Since I read both the original and revised editions, I have divided my review accordingly.
1931 Original Edition: Nancy is invited by George and Bess to spend the summer at a western ranch, newly acquired by their aunt. While there, she meets their unhappy cousin Alice Regor whose father mysteriously vanished eight years before. Nancy also encounters a strange old woman living in the mountains with a mistreated young girl named Lucy. Unable to learn the child's relation to her abusive guardian, Nancy also wonders why Lucy is forbidden to speak to anyone. She decides to investigate.
In this edition the story is intriguing and fun; and the author, Mildred Wirt Benson, did a great job of incorporating a real Western atmosphere. But there isn't enough emphasis on the mystery itself, and that lowered my interest.
The chemistry between Nancy and her friends is very enjoyable. The writing is extremely good; of course some obsolete terms are used. The illustrations are very nice, although there are only four and they are secluded from the text (in later printings, all but one are deleted).
1965 Revised Edition: Nancy, Bess and George plan on spending the summer at Shadow Ranch owned by Bess and George's aunt and uncle, but upon arriving they find that the ranch is besieged with sabotage and the recurring appearances of a ghost horse. Nancy starts investigating, and she also tries to help Alice Regor, whose father has been missing for six months.
This edition is packed with danger, suspense, and high-speed action – it's very hard to put down! The story pace flows well, and there are lots of twists. The Western atmosphere is well-defined.
Nancy's chemistry with Bess and George is fun, as always. The writing is less rich than the original edition, but it's still excellent nonetheless. The illustrations are also great.
The original edition needed a stronger focus on the mystery itself, but it's still a good book with an enjoyable story. I rate the original edition 3 stars.
The revised edition is superb and one that I'd be quick to recommend to a mystery lover. I rate this edition 5 stars.