Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Valerie Drew Girl Detective Short Stories

Earlier this year, I learned about the Valerie Drew Girl Detective short stories that appeared in the British publication, Schoolgirls' Weekly, from a set of three listings in which a seller mentioned a connection to Nancy Drew.  I was completely astounded, because I had never heard of Valerie Drew.

I was skeptical, since many times sellers make statements that turn out to be bizarre and incorrect speculation.  I was shocked that I might have just unexpectedly learned something that I had never heard in the 23 years I had collected Nancy Drew books.  While I spent around 15 minutes verifying the information, I became increasingly excited and purchased all three lots.

Valerie Drew is a "plucky" girl detective who is assisted by her very smart Alsatian wolfhound, Flash.  The first Valerie Drew story was published in 1933, three years after the first Nancy Drew book was published.

One might suppose that the similarity in names was just a coincidence and that Valerie Drew was not inspired by Nancy Drew.  But consider that the very first Valerie Drew story is titled "That Amazing Room of Clocks."  Hmm... "Clock" is in the title just like the first Nancy Drew book, The Secret of the Old Clock.

The titles of the stories are all in the style of the Grosset and Dunlap titles for Nancy Drew and other series books.  What I find most fascinating is that many Valerie Drew titles that are very similar to Nancy Drew titles were for stories published before the Nancy Drew books existed.  Some of the Valerie Drew titles are similar to Judy Bolton titles that came later.

Also of interest is that Valerie Drew's dog, Flash, is so smart that he is almost like a human helper.  He helps Valerie just as much, if not more so, than Judy Bolton's cat, Blackberry, helps her.  Valerie has reddish hair like Judy Bolton.  Like Nancy Drew, the Judy Bolton series commenced before the first Valerie Drew story was published, so both Nancy Drew and Judy Bolton may have inspired the creation of Valerie Drew.

I would dearly love to get copies of all of the stories for research purposes, but the Schoolgirls' Weekly issues are extremely hard to find.  Most likely, only a small number of each issue still exist.  The paper is pulp and further deteriorates as each year passes.

The three issues I purchased of Schoolgirls' Weekly contain the following stories.

"The Dancers Who Disappeared" from April 1935

This mystery involves showgirls who disappear one at a time when the girls exit the stage.  Valerie stands near the curtain and watches as the girls dance off the stage.  The very last girl vanishes into thin air!  Valerie decides to dance with the girls at the next performance and plans to be the last girl to exit.

"The Case of the Vanished Film Star" from March 1936

Valerie's friend, Trina Torrance, has gotten her big break and will star in a film.  She has received several warning messages, so Valerie goes with her as she prepares to begin filming.  Valerie doesn't take the threats as seriously as she should and is quite a distance away as Trina films her first scene in a building up on a cliff.  Valerie is horrified when she watches Trina fall from the building down to the beach below.  The threats have been carried out!

"The Case of the Haunted Chimneys" from October 1936

Valerie sees a string with a rock attached to the end come down the chimney.  The rock has a number written on it.  Smelling a mystery, Valerie checks the other chimneys.  Each one has a rock dangling from a string, and each rock has a different number on it.  Valerie finds the culprit, but he gets away.

Later, Valerie finds the chimney sweep, who has been fired after being accused of the mischief.  Valerie is certain that he is innocent, and she sets out to find the culprit.

All three stories are good.

Nine stories are available in PDF files from the site mentioned at the beginning of this post.

1 comment:

Homeschool Mom said...

This is so interesting. I have never heard of Valerie Drew. Thanks for posting this information.