The Secret of the 25 Chapters in Nancy Drew Books

Learn about the secret of the 25 chapters in Nancy Drew books, including which books in the series used to feature the 25 chapters and why they all feature 20 chapters now.
Publish date:

My wife and I love books. Our house is filled with them in every room. But my wife's favorite is the Nancy Drew mystery stories. And when we hit used bookstores and thrift stores, she searches for a specific type of Nancy Drew mystery—one that has 25 chapters.

(Literary Scavenger Hunts: The MacGuffin.)

The first 34 books in the series were originally published with 25 chapters, though the standard length is now 20 chapters. In fact, the original 34 books all went through a revision process beginning in 1959 that turned all the 25-chapter books into 20-chapter books. For instance, we have two copies of Nancy's Mysterious Letter (the 8th book in the series): one copy has 25 chapters; another features 20.

Below, I've listed the titles of the books in the series that originally had 25 chapters. Amateur sleuths are encouraged to hunt for them in their local used bookstores.

Image placeholder title

Nancy Drew Books With 25 Chapters

Remember, this is a list of books that were originally published with 25 chapters, but they're currently published with 20 chapters. So don't just pick up an old looking copy and assume it has 25 chapters; open it up and make sure.

  1. The Secret of the Old Clock
  2. The Hidden Staircase
  3. The Bungalow Mystery
  4. The Mystery at Lilac Inn
  5. The Secret at Shadow Ranch
  6. The Secret of Red Gate Farm
  7. The Clue in the Diary
  8. Nancy's Mysterious Letter
  9. The Sign of the Twisted Candles
  10. The Password to Larkspur Lane
  11. The Clue of the Broken Locket
  12. The Message in the Hollow Oak
  13. The Mystery of the Ivory Charm
  14. The Whispering Statue
  15. The Haunted Bridge
  16. The Clue of the Tapping Heels
  17. The Mystery of the Brass Bound Trunk
  18. The Mystery at the Moss-Covered Mansion
  19. The Quest of the Missing Map
  20. The Clue in the Jewel Box
  21. The Secret in the Old Attic
  22. The Clue in the Crumbling Wall
  23. The Mystery of the Tolling Bell
  24. The Clue in the Old Album
  25. The Ghost of Blackwood Hall
  26. The Clue of the Leaning Chimney
  27. The Secret of the Wooden Lady
  28. The Clue of the Black Keys
  29. The Mystery at the Ski Jump
  30. The Clue of the Velvet Mask
  31. The Ringmaster's Secret
  32. The Scarlet Slipper Mystery
  33. The Witch Tree Symbol
  34. The Hidden Window Mystery

But Why Do They Feature 20 Chapters Now?

Many sources claim the 1959 revisions prompted by publisher Grosset & Dunlap were intended to modernize the series and remove racial stereotypes. But the main reason may have been financial—significantly shortening the books to save on printing costs.

When I hold our 25-chapter copies against the the 20-chapter copies, the difference in thickness is easy to see.


Image placeholder title

Are you new to writing fiction for young adults? Do you want to learn how to write a young adult book and break into the market? Let Writing the Young Adult Novel be your guide. When you take this workshop, you'll get step-by-step instruction on writing for young adults and learn how to sell your novel.

Click to continue.

20 Authors Share Their Biggest Surprise in the Writing Process

20 Authors Share Their Biggest Surprises in the Writing Process

Experienced writers know to expect the unexpected. Here are surprises in the writing process from 20 authors, including Amanda Jayatissa, Paul Neilan, Kristin Hannah, and Robert Jones, Jr.

Ruth Hogan: On Infusing Personal Interests in Fiction

Ruth Hogan: On Infusing Personal Interests in Fiction

Author Ruth Hogan discusses the process of learning a new skill in writing her new novel, The Moon, The Stars and Madame Burova.

Do You Find an Editor or Agent First?

Do You Find an Editor or Agent First?

It's a common question asked by writers looking to get their first book published: Do you find an editor or agent first? The answer depends on each writer's situation.

writer's digest wd presents

WDU Presents: 7 New WDU Courses, a Chance at Publication, and More!

This week, we’re excited to announce seven new WDU courses, a chance at publication, and more!

What Is a Professional Editor and Why Should Writers Use One?

What Is a Professional Editor and Why Should Writers Use One?

Editor is a very broad term in the publishing industry that can mean a variety of things. Tiffany Yates Martin reveals what a professional editor is and why writers should consider using one.

From Script

How to Find the Right Reader for Feedback, Writing Female Characters and Tapping into Emotionally Authentic Characters (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script Magazine, read film reviews from Tom Stemple, part three of writing female characters, interviews with Free Guy scribes Zak Penn and Matt Lieberman, The Eyes of Tammy Faye screenwriter Abe Sylvia, and more!

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Chasing Trends

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Chasing Trends

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so this series helps identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake is chasing trends in writing and publishing.

Lessons Learned From Self-Publishing My Picture Book

Lessons Learned From Self-Publishing My Picture Book

Author Dawn Secord shares her journey toward self-publishing a picture book featuring her Irish Setter named Bling.

Poetic Forms

Crown of Sonnets: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the crown of sonnets, a form that brings together seven sonnets in a special way.