The Hidden Staircase

The Hidden Staircase by Carolyn Keene (1930) This is the second Nancy Drew book, and one supposedly most loved by fans. I've noticed that many series books have a “haunted house” episode early on (if not several) which is often some version of a criminal “haunting” an old house in order to scare people away while they use it as cover for their nefarious activities. Very Scooby-Doo. Naturally, their intentions backfire, as the “ghosts” do nothing but attract youthful investigators. This book has very little plot, actually, and really only one setting: a supposedly haunted house, lived in by two old women—and Nancy goes to stay with them to figure out what's up. She doesn't believe in ghosts. It's more atmosphere than story, but the cool thing about it is imagining the geography/architecture of the place. I did like it, but it's not my favorite Nancy Drew. I read the 1930 version, written by Mildred Wirt Benson, which was supposedly adapted as a 1939 movie; I've never seen it, but would like to. There is a new version of this story in cinema production now (or recently), no doubt based on the 1959 rewrite of this book (or rewrites of the rewrite). I was hoping, without much hope, that they would make either a 1930 period version or a 1950s period version, but based on a production still I saw, it's contemporary. What is the point, really?—except that Nancy Drew is, I guess, a “brand.” In the 1930 version, to protect herself, Nancy takes along a handgun. In this new movie version, I suppose the interesting questions to be answered will be: how many ethnicities and sexual orientations will be covered by her friends; what current music will they listen to; what kind of cars will they drive; what phones will they use; which social media will they be on; and will Nancy use a Taser (like Veronica Mars), pepper spray, or just her wits.