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review 2020-05-24 14:55
The Bungalow Mystery ★★★★☆
The Bungalow Mystery - P.M. Carlson,Russell H. Tandy,Carolyn Keene
The Bungalow Mystery - Carolyn Keene

Overall review for both the 1930 original story and the 1960 revision, after reading and comparing both.

 

The third book in the series was perhaps the most exciting so far, with Nancy almost continually in peril and getting herself out of one scrape after another. As usual, the mystery depends heavily on coincidence and inconsistencies that don’t stand up to much scrutiny, but it gives Nancy plenty of opportunity to show off (modestly, of course) her smarts, her skills, and her courage.

There is a significant difference in storytelling style and characterization between the versions.

 

The 1930 plot and characters are kept simple and few. We are more often inside Nancy’s head as she’s working out the clues and coming to conclusions. There is a buildup of suspense, violence both actual and implied, and Nancy is far more impulsive and emotional – she gets spooked, is at times frightened, but bravely recovers and thinks things through.  The 1960 version introduces many more characters, romance elements, and a far more complicated plot, but we don’t get to solve the mystery inside Nancy’s head. We are on the outside and she just tells us her conclusions along with the other characters. This Nancy is also brave, but she is almost always deliberate, cool, and collected; justifying her actions as staying within the letter of the law and as morally just.

 

Original 1930 text: ★★★★★

Revised 1960 text: ★★☆☆☆

Averages out to a probably over-generous ★★★★☆

 

Index of Posts:

ND3 Reading start

ND3 Reading finish

ND3.0 Overview

ND3.1 1930 Chs 1-3 vs 1960 Chs 1-2

ND3.2 1930 Chs 4-6 vs 1960 Ch 3

ND3.3 1930 Chs 7-9 vs 1960 Chs 4&8

ND3.4 1930 Chs 9-11  vs 1960 Ch 5-7; 9-10

ND3.5 Chs 12-14  vs 1960 Ch 11-12

ND3.6 1930 Chs 14-17 vs 1960 Ch 13-14

ND3.7 1930 Chs 18-21 vs 1960 Ch 15-17

ND3.8 1930 Chs 22-25 vs 1960 Ch 18-20

ND3.9 Artwork comparison

ND3.10 Overall review

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text 2020-05-09 20:27
The Bungalow Mystery - update ND3.9
The Bungalow Mystery - P.M. Carlson,Russell H. Tandy,Carolyn Keene
The Bungalow Mystery - Carolyn Keene

Reading the 1930 & 1959 versions of The Hidden Staircase simultaneously, comparing differences in the story and characters, and pondering dated plot points. Spoilers: full plot description below!

 

Artwork Comparison

 

The changing artwork is part of my fun in collecting these books. Although there are two text versions, the illustrations were updated three times, with the quality deteriorating each time.

 

Russell Tandy did the first two versions, but the second revision, to save costs on the printing, only included a single frontispiece in a plain paper rather than glossy page, and for this book was an entirely new scene. The book in my collection with this illustration was printed about 1952, but based on Nancy’s hair and clothes, I’m guessing that this illustration was done in the 40’s. Here are an example of the original and revised Tandy illustrations, the first showing Nancy breaking into Jacob’s house, and the second showing Nancy and the rescued Jacob finding his house ransacked and empty:

 

The illustrations were revised again for the 1959 revised text, but this time by an uncredited artist who had little of Tandy’s talent, and by the 1970’s (for the later volumes in the series) the illustrations look like they were pulled from a reject pile of scribblings. The revised versions all have 6 plain paper line drawings. These revised text illustrations don’t attempt to mirror Tandy’s original work, although they sometimes show a similar scene.

 

The stormy lake:

 

The tree blocking the road:

 

And last, here’s an illustration of my favorite scene in the original, that never would have made it into the revision, where Nancy parks illegally, rushes into a hotel lobby, snatches the phone from the desk clerk, then proceeds to give him orders to start making phone calls for her.   

 

Index of Posts:

ND3 Reading start

ND3 Reading finish

ND3.0 Overview

ND3.1 1930 Chs 1-3 vs 1960 Chs 1-2

ND3.2 1930 Chs 4-6 vs 1960 Ch 3

ND3.3 1930 Chs 7-9 vs 1960 Chs 4&8

ND3.4 1930 Chs 9-11  vs 1960 Ch 5-7; 9-10

ND3.5 Chs 12-14  vs 1960 Ch 11-12

ND3.6 1930 Chs 14-17 vs 1960 Ch 13-14

ND3.7 1930 Chs 18-21 vs 1960 Ch 15-17

ND3.8 1930 Chs 22-25 vs 1960 Ch 18-20

ND3.9 Artwork comparison

ND3.10 Overall review

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text 2020-05-08 16:17
The Bungalow Mystery - update ND3.8
The Bungalow Mystery - P.M. Carlson,Russell H. Tandy,Carolyn Keene
The Bungalow Mystery - Carolyn Keene

Reading the 1930 & 1960 versions of The Bungalow Mystery simultaneously, comparing differences in the story and characters, and pondering dated plot points. Spoilers: full plot description below!

 

1930 Chs 22-25 vs 1960 Ch 18-20

Both versions conclude the events with a bang. Literally.

 

1930 Nancy just happens to meet up with her father as she’s racing to catch up to Stumpy and Mr. Drew and Laura are racing to find Nancy. After syncing their stories, the chase continues with Mr. Drew instructing Laura to get in the roadster with Nancy, saying, “If it comes to a battle, you girls can drop back and be out of range of the bullets.” (me: !!!!!)

 

Nancy takes off ahead of her father like the speed demon that she is. The next few paragraphs are an ode to the power of Nancy‘s little roadster and the skill of her driving. Nancy Drew gives no f***s for your speed limit; she drives as fast as she thinks she can without wrecking.

 

Her eyes focused upon the road, Nancy Drew clung grimly to the wheel. The little figured ribbon in the speedometer crept higher and higher until the car wavered in the road. Reducing the speed slightly, she held her foot steady on the gasoline pedal.”

 

They catch up to Stumpy and Nancy drops back to let Mr. Drew engage him in a gun fight while still driving at top speed.

 

Nancy sensed that the end was drawing near, for it was apparent that the racing car had reached its maximum speed. Stumpy was making his last stand, and knew it. He looked back over his shoulder frequently now. Nancy had never seen such reckless driving. Where would the mad race end?”

 

They come up on a sharp curve and a cliff. Nancy and her father see it in enough time that with their skillful driving they’re able to stop, but Stumpy Dowd, being a villain and a reckless driver, goes right over the barrier and over the cliff.

 

Scrambling down into the ravine, they find Stumpy alive but pinned beneath the wreck.  They’re able to drag him free as the car catches fire. Nancy, knowing that Laura’s fortune is in the burning car, dives back in and retrieves two suitcases. Her father yanks her back just before the car explodes.

 

The 1960 chase and capture is more convoluted and not nearly as exciting, partly due to the added embezzlement subplot and related characters. They drive around to more places, Mr. Drew gets conked on the head by one of the baddies, so Nancy is driving for the chase scene, but it ends the same way, with the crash and explosion.

 

The last couple of chapters wrap up the story, with the villains surviving so they can go to jail for a satisfactorily long time, Laura and her fortune reunited with her real guardian and his fortune, and everyone praises Nancy’s cleverness and courage, while Nancy wonders what her next adventure will be. 

 

Considerations – Violence and risk:

I guess the 1960 revision might have been exciting for readers who had never experienced the glorious original. But there’s no way the 1960 sanitized versions were going to include a complete disregard for speed limits, a Bonnie and Clyde style gun battle, the contemplation of finding gruesomely injured people in the wrecked car, or sensible Nancy crawling into a burning car for money. 1960 Nancy can’t even be considered even peripherally responsible for the wreck, since she had just caught sight of Stumpy’s car before it went over the cliff. Technically speaking, there wasn’t even a car chase.

 

One side note: in keeping with her impulsive and non-law-abiding nature, 1930 Nancy actually withholds the information about Jacob Aborn’s kidnapping from the police, just because Laura is present. She wants to surprise Laura by introducing her directly to her real guardian, and doesn’t want it spoiled by the police report.  

 

Index of Posts:

ND3 Reading start

ND3 Reading finish

ND3.0 Overview

ND3.1 1930 Chs 1-3 vs 1960 Chs 1-2

ND3.2 1930 Chs 4-6 vs 1960 Ch 3

ND3.3 1930 Chs 7-9 vs 1960 Chs 4&8

ND3.4 1930 Chs 9-11  vs 1960 Ch 5-7; 9-10

ND3.5 Chs 12-14  vs 1960 Ch 11-12

ND3.6 1930 Chs 14-17 vs 1960 Ch 13-14

ND3.7 1930 Chs 18-21 vs 1960 Ch 15-17

ND3.8 1930 Chs 22-25 vs 1960 Ch 18-20

ND3.9 Artwork comparison

ND3.10 Overall review

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text 2020-05-06 13:42
The Bungalow Mystery - update ND3.7
The Bungalow Mystery - P.M. Carlson,Russell H. Tandy,Carolyn Keene
The Bungalow Mystery - Carolyn Keene

Reading the 1930 & 1960 versions of The Bungalow Mystery simultaneously, comparing differences in the story and characters, and pondering dated plot points. Spoilers: full plot description below!

 

1930 Chs 18-21 vs 1960 Ch 15-17

These chapters offer the greatest contrast between the original and revision storytelling styles, as they cover Nancy’s escape from the bungalow and pursuit of the fleeing Stumpy Dowd.

 

Abandoned to starve in the basement, Nancy keeps her head and methodically sets about trying to free herself, working at the ropes to loosen them enough to get out. She’s able to unchain Jacob Aborn because, in typical Scooby Doo criminal fashion, Stumpy left the key to the padlock behind in plain sight to torment them. The fiend!

 

At this point, the versions diverge as Nancy is rewritten to be more restrained, more dependent on law and the menfolk, and to add a lot of convoluted plot elements and accommodate all the unnecessary new characters.

 

1930 Nancy helps the debilitated Jacob back to his house, finding it ransacked with Stumpy gone with all of Laura’s money and all of Jacobs money. There is no phone at the cottage. Jacob is too weak to go further so Nancy leaves him here and takes off to get him a doctor, notify the police, and pursue Jacob.

 

“The rough forest road held Nancy to a slow pace, but when she reached the lake thoroughfare she stepped on the accelerator, and the little car begin to purr like a contented cat.”

 

What happens next is pure 1930 Nancy and had no chance of making it into the 1960 revision. When Nancy gets to the fancy hotel, she parks illegally, storms into the lobby looking like a wild woman with her hair in disorder and her clothing in disarray, and seeing that the telephone booths are all in use, she sprints to the main desk and snatches up the clerk’s private telephone. Everyone there is scandalized, but Nancy couldn’t care less.

 

She tries phoning home to warn them but nobody is there. She has hotel clerk start calling all the police stations between there and River Heights and also the radio stations asking them to put out public alert before running back out and haring off after Stumpy. I have no idea if the radio stations would do such a thing in 1930, but they certainly wouldn’t do it today.

 

Back home in River Heights, Laura has been worrying about Nancy all day, and when Mr. Drew gets in from out of town and learns what Nancy is up to, he loads his revolver and races off to find her, taking Laura with him. 

 

1960 Nancy also helps the debilitated Jacob back to his ransacked house, but is stuck there because Stumpy has disabled her car and cut the phone lines. Then suddenly all the extra characters show up and the plots all converge: Mr. Drew, Laura, and Nancy’s ex-boyfriend Don arrive, then the Donnell kids that helped Nancy with the fallen tree way back in Ch. 4 show up with their parents and everyone sits around talking and giving complicated explanations of bank embezzlement and people calling each other and misunderstandings, etc.  Nancy puts all these clues together with her own story and everyone is amazed and admiring at her bravery and cleverness. The police are called, and Mr. Drew’s good buddy the River Heights police chief sets a patrol car and 4 men to guard the Drews home. I guess the 1960s were nice if you were a rich prominent citizen.

 

Considerations – Violence and gore:

The 1960 revision continues to tame down the more exciting and explicit elements into blandness. Although both Nancys calmly work to get loose of the ropes, the 1930 version describes her abraded and bleeding wrists and the original Jacob rages against his chains and vainly tries to break the padlock against the cellar floor. When 1930 Mr. Drew discovers that his daughter may be in danger, he loads and pockets his revolver before dashing off in his sedan, but 1960 Mr. Drew is just so worried that “he could barely restrain himself from breaking the speed limit”.

 

Considerations – Active vs passive plot events:

This part of the story is very action-oriented in the 1931 original. We follow along with Nancy’s thoughts as she puts clues together and rushes wildly to stop Stumpy Dowd. The 1961 revision is far more static, where people gather in one place and explain to one another how the various plot elements fit. The reader doesn’t know that Nancy has even put it all together until she tells her admiring audience.

 

Dated Plot Points - Telephones:

Again, much of the plot depends on an inability to communicate with others or call for help. Even Nancy’s flashlight battery problem would have been solved with an iPhone. A  modern retelling of this story would have to depend on a mobile phone getting broken or being out of service range.

 

The Cult of Domesticity – Nancy is smart but testicles take charge:

The 1931 Nancy does not wait around for help from anyone. She charges about and gives orders to everyone – Jacob, the hotel clerk, the radio stations, the police. 1961 Nancy is just as smart – we are even told that she had taken a class in auto mechanics and so was able to look under the hood of her convertible and figure out how Stumpy had tampered with it. But when her father and the police show up, she steps back and lets them make the decisions and lead the discussion. She offers her input, but makes suggestions and asks about taking action rather than just doing it.

 

The Cult of Domesticity – Laura is girly and Hannah is motherly:

1931 Laura spends her day worrying about Nancy, chafing at the inaction and unable to distract herself, but 1961 Laura happily goes off to a BBQ with Nancy’s ex-boyfriend and has a lovely time socializing. 1931 Hannah the housekeeper is an almost invisible servant, but 1961 Hannah has motherly concern for Nancy’s safety and frets over her continuously, when she’s not in the kitchen cooking up and serving yummy things to eat.

 

Index of Posts:

 

ND3 Reading start

ND3 Reading finish

ND3.0 Overview

ND3.1 1930 Chs 1-3 vs 1960 Chs 1-2

ND3.2 1930 Chs 4-6 vs 1960 Ch 3

ND3.3 1930 Chs 7-9 vs 1960 Chs 4&8

ND3.4 1930 Chs 9-11  vs 1960 Ch 5-7; 9-10

ND3.5 Chs 12-14  vs 1960 Ch 11-12

ND3.6 1930 Chs 14-17 vs 1960 Ch 13-14

ND3.7 1930 Chs 18-21 vs 1960 Ch 15-17

ND3.8 1930 Chs 22-25 vs 1960 Ch 18-20

ND3.9 Artwork comparison

ND3.10 Overall review

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text 2020-05-05 15:55
The Bungalow Mystery - update ND3.6
The Bungalow Mystery - P.M. Carlson,Russell H. Tandy,Carolyn Keene
The Bungalow Mystery - Carolyn Keene

Reading the 1930 & 1960 versions of The Bungalow Mystery simultaneously, comparing differences in the story and characters, and pondering dated plot points. Spoilers: full plot description below!

 

1930 Chs 14-17 vs 1960 Ch 13-14

We finally get to the eponymous bungalow of these two books as Nancy continues her snooping, makes a big discovery, and gets caught by the bad guy. These chapters are pretty similar, but Nancy’s updated (more boring) personality saps much of the fun melodrama from it.

 

Once Stumpy goes to bed, 1930 Nancy can finally creep out of hiding and check out the decrepit bungalow with her now-dying flashlight. It’s disappointingly empty until she opens the basement door and sees Jacob Aborn, which sends her into a full panic stumbling around in the dark until she finally gets out of the cottage and then finally starts to think. Panic over, she realizes that the person in the basement couldn’t possibly be Jacob and goes back to check it out. Nancy finds a man who looks like Jacob chained to the wall and unconscious down in the cellar. Turns out he actually is Jacob and the man who’s been posing is Jacob is actually a man called Stumpy Dowd, a notorious criminal. Instead of getting the man out of there right away they sit down in the cellar chained up while he tells the story of what happened.

 

While they’re hanging around talking and waiting to get caught, they… get caught. Stumpy knocks Nancy unconscious with the butt of his gun. While she’s weak and still semi-conscious he ties her up with the rope. But she remembers being told by a detective visiting her father that it was possible to hold your hand while being bound so as to slip the bonds later. With Nancy’s natural curiosity she got a demo. So she tries to replicate this while Stumpy is tying her up. They have the usual scene where the criminal boasts of his getaway plans and the victims promised retribution and say things like “you fiend” and “you beast”. Jacob leaves them tied up in the cellar to starve to death or whatever and goes off to go re-kidnap Laura Pendleton to get the rest of her jewels.

 

Considerations - Violence and melodrama:

The 1960 revision tones down both the violence and Nancy’s excitable nature. When 1960 Nancy first sees Jacob in the basement, she is startled but soon composes herself rather than panicking. Stumpy knocks Nancy out with a cane instead of pistol-whipping her. Instead of raging at him and telling him he’s a fiend, she clenches her jaw and just quietly says, "The police will catch up with you in the end".

 

The Cult of Domesticity – The matchbook:

There’s a whole plot device with Nancy’s dying flashlight and a kerosene lantern she finds. It’s unimportant except for the curious difference in how she happens to have matches in her pocket. 1930 Nancy had a waterproof matchbox left over from her camping trip. Traditionally feminine 1960 Nancy, having been to a summer camp party rather than actually camping, happens to have a souvenir matchbook from the (dinner & dancing & almost romance) hotel, for her matchbook collection. I was going to put this under “dated plot points” because I remember matchbook collecting being a big thing when I was a kid and everybody (except Nancy Drew!) smoked, but I can’t even remember the last time I saw souvenir matchbooks at every hotel, restaurant, and retail store. But apparently, it’s still a thing, even if they’re no longer a common marketing tool. Who knew?

 

Index of Posts:

ND3 Reading start

ND3 Reading finish

ND3.0 Overview

ND3.1 1930 Chs 1-3 vs 1960 Chs 1-2

ND3.2 1930 Chs 4-6 vs 1960 Ch 3

ND3.3 1930 Chs 7-9 vs 1960 Chs 4&8

ND3.4 1930 Chs 9-11  vs 1960 Ch 5-7; 9-10

ND3.5 Chs 12-14  vs 1960 Ch 11-12

ND3.6 1930 Chs 14-17 vs 1960 Ch 13-14

ND3.7 1930 Chs 18-21 vs 1960 Ch 15-17

ND3.8 1930 Chs 22-25 vs 1960 Ch 18-20

ND3.9 Artwork comparison

ND3.10 Overall review

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