Book Reviews

Book Review: The Whispering Statue – Nancy Drew Uncovers Forged Works of Art

Oh to be young again. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine that just about the same time I developed a fondness for Stephen King, I was still reading the Nancy Drew mysteries. I was in sort of a book-of-the-month program for them when I was younger and could hardly wait for the next volume to arrive. Re-reading them all these years later has taken some of the bloom off the rose in terms of my memories of the series.

The Whispering Statue has its issues but is actually one of the least offensive of the mysteries. The original story was published in 1937 and it was extensively rewritten in 1970. The two stories only have the title and a statue that looks like Nancy in common. Other than that, they are two entirely different mysteries.

Nancy’s father, noted attorney Carson Drew, has a client named Mrs. Merriam who believes she is being deceived by the gallery she has commissioned to sell a series of collectible books. She comes to the Drew home to tell Nancy of the mystery since Mr. Drew is handing it off to her. Also at the dinner are Nancy’s best friends and cohorts in crime-solving, Bess Marvin and George Fayne. While they are dining, someone makes a threatening phone call to the house at about the same time two thugs attempt to break in on the group.

Fearing that their lives are in danger, Mrs. Merriam nearly calls off having Nancy, Bess and George accompany her back to Waterford. However, there’s another mystery for Nancy to solve there. At the yacht club where the girls will be staying, a marble statue has been stolen quite some time ago. It was said that the statue whispered. Once Nancy agrees to don a disguise and go under the assumed name of “Debbie Lynbrook”, the mystery goes forward.

As with most of these books when there are two mysteries for Nancy to solve, they will end up being related in the end. In between their detective work, the girls enjoy what the yacht club has to offer, where it’s revealed that Nancy can add sailing skills to her extensive repertoire of what she’s an expert at. She’s such an expert that she manages to win a cup in one of the races at the yacht club the weekend her steady beau Ned Nickerson visits from Emerson College. Not only that, but George and her beau, Burt, also manage to win one of the competitions.

I really liked the amount of time devoted to the character of George in The Whispering Statue. She is shown as being quite capable of defending herself and helping to protect them from harm. At one point, George tosses Drew housekeeper Hannah Gruen’s assailant over her back with a judo move.

The Whispering Statue also marks the first appearance of Nancy’s pet dog, a terrier named Togo. He’s mentioned just in passing at one point, but it’s the first I’ve heard of him in the series so far.

Ned was a special friend of Nancy’s and dated her whenever he could get away from either college or his part-time summer job of selling insurance. Oh enough already! Why couldn’t they just say that was her boyfriend? And we haven’t even had a kiss yet!

One plot point that seems to be overplayed is Nancy’s ability to judge a person’s character based on their appearance. The bad guys always look bad: DeKeer’s outstanding feature were his black eyes which glistened intensely. “He may be talented,” Nancy thought, “but I’ll bet he’s cruel and scheming.”

This is less superficial than what’s taken place in other books in the series, but it still seems to speak of judging a book by its cover.

Speaking of covers, critics have had an issue with the cover art and it was something I noticed right away as well. The cover is a sketch of the missing statue with a sketch of Nancy from the neck up superimposed behind it. Since one of the features of the statue was the eerie resemblance to Nancy, the statue is made to look like her, right down to her 1960s hairstyle. This is despite the fact that the statue was supposed to be much older.

The Whispering Statue is paced pretty well. Although it is predictable, it is also fairly readable and the offenses within are tame. I can see its appeal to girls in the nine to twelve-year-old age group, and I would have no problem letting my daughter read this. As an adult, there are certainly plot points that are lacking, but it’s basically a decent read.

Previous book in the series (link): The Mystery of the Ivory Charm

Next book in the series (link): The Haunted Bridge

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