Harriet Adams wrote the first manuscript for The Secret in the Old Lace, but the publisher rejected it and asked for Nancy Axelrad to rewrite it. I'm sure that some of Harriet's work remained in the final version, but the book feels like it was written somebody else, so I assume that Axelrad's rewrite was significant.
This means that the era of Harriet Adams ended with #58. I detected quickly that The Secret in the Old Lace has a different tone from the previous volumes. Bess speaks just a little bit differently. While Bess still gets scared easily, she is very bold and direct, more like what I would expect from George.
While The Secret in the Old Lace is overall enjoyable, I don't care for it very much. I find that Nancy's fictional story about François Lefèvre is too easily confused with the real story concerning François Lefèvre. The story would have been improved if the magazine contest had been removed from the plot.
Multiple villains try to steal Nancy's manuscript. The real story concerning Lefèvre involves assumed names. The heir to François Lefèvre also shows up, and other assorted people and places are part of the plot. The entire story is too convoluted, and the book is a travelogue mystery. Enough said.
I suppose Axelrad improved Harriet's original manuscript, but Axelrad's finished product is not good, either.
I have several grievances. One of them is the usage of Greek all through the text. Very often, Nancy says a word in Greek and then repeats the same word in English. Who talks like that? Of course the book is written like that for our benefit, but I find it extremely obnoxious, even more so since I have no idea how to pronounce the Greek words.
Like The Secret in the Old Lace, the book has too many different characters. I decided to make note of them as I read the book. We have the Papdapoulos family, Dimitri Georgiou, Isakos, Vatis, Helen Nicholas, Diakos, Mousiados, Alexis Hios, Zimmer, Irwin, Stella Anagnost, and probably five million other people. I skimmed the first half of the book and gave up halfway due to how annoyed and bored I was. There is probably an entire herd of people in the second half of the book.
Ned, Burt, and Dave magically appear in Greece. I just know they are flunking out of college.
A bunch of random stuff happens. A basket of apples containing a snake is delivered to Nancy's room. A gold mask is planted in Nancy's bag. The girls get on a freighter and it nearly leaves with them. Their car is forced into a ditch. Bess is stung by a jellyfish. Later, her wallet is stolen. And who knows what else happens in the second half of the story.
Did I mention that I hate this book?