Nancy Drew arrives in Phoenix, Arizona, eagerly looking forward to a fun-filled vacation at Shadow Ranch, but abruptly finds herself involved in a baffling mystery. The ranch is being haunted by a phantom horse and maliciously damaged by an unknown enemy. Local people believe that the ghostly animal is carrying out the curse of Dirk Valentine, the romantic outlaw who was killed many years ago at Shadow Ranch, where he had gone to fulfill a promise to his sweetheart.
Suspecting that a treasure hidden by Valentine may be at the root of the Shadow Ranch mystery, Nancy undertakes a challenging search, aided by her friends Bess Marvin and George Fayne. The first vital clue is found in an antique watch and sparks a series of clever deductions and dangerous developments. While seeking further clues, the girls’ investigation in a ghost town ends in near disaster when Nancy is trapped inside a building that is tippled by a rockslide — a rockslide which is deliberately caused.
While I liked The Secret of Shadow Ranch, it has to be one of the slower Nancy Drew mysteries. I was ready for Keene to just get on with the story instead of spending the majority of the book trying to connect more than one character to the mystery in more than one way — for example, Goerge and Bess’s cousin, Alice, is connected to the mystery not only because she’s staying at Shadow Ranch, but because the gang behind the mystery are also holding her father captive.
It was nice to see Nancy in Phoenix for a change rather the picturesque town she lives in and riding a horse rather than driving her blue convertible, but The Secret of Shadow Ranch is definitely not my favorite of the series. It’s a little too slow and a little too dry for my taste.
- Keene, Carolyn. The Secret of Shadow Ranch (Nancy Drew #5). New York, NY: Grosset & Dunlap, 1993. Originally published 1931. Print. 180 pgs. ISBN: 9780448095059. Source: Gift.