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.
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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.

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.

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(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.

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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.

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