Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Nancy Drew #23 Mystery of the Tolling Bell

In Nancy Drew #23, The Mystery of the Tolling Bell, Nancy Drew travels to Candleton with Bess and George in order to solve a mystery involving one of Mr. Drew's clients. Fortunately for Nancy, Ned Nickerson just happens to be staying near Candleton "to sell insurance to parents of two college friends." That's very convenient.

Early in the story, Nancy is told that her father is ill at a certain hotel. Before Nancy can leave for the hotel, she receives a warning call not to go to the hotel. Of course, Nancy ignores the second call. The entire hotel scene is odd. The doctor at the hotel acts mysterious for no reason.

I am puzzled about parts of the hotel scene. The doctor says that he had the manager call Nancy to tell her that her father is at the hotel. We learn at the end of the story that the manager is working with the villains. I am more than a little surprised that the manager calls Nancy when he is working with the villains. It doesn't quite add up.

The manager's wife is the person who warns Nancy not to come, and this is supposedly against the villain's plans according to a statement by the manager near the end of the story. Oddly, the villains act like they want Nancy out of the hotel, which seems to go with the wife's wishes. I am confused.

As I read the revised text, I found that I did not care about any of the swindled people. As I read the original text, I decided to skim the text by halfway through the book, and I totally ignored the swindled people.

Both versions have a bizarre scene in which Nancy dreams about elves. This passage from page 148 of the revised text shows how silly the scene sounds.
"I've decided one of those little elves may have been Grumper—the very short man A. H. told me about. A. H. said he thought Grumper was around Candleton."

"And you believe he's the ghost and lives in the cave with a tolling bell and sends up fumes through the rocks!" Bess exclaimed. "Really, Nancy, I think this time you're going pretty far out with your ideas!"
The elf dream sequence is one of the most bizarre scenes from the original 56 Nancy Drew books. The revised text illustration that depicts the scene is the most bizarre illustration of the original 56.

In the original text, page 96, George severely sprains her ankle while at the top of the cliff. At this moment, Bess is at the bottom of the cliff. Bess has not come up, and Nancy and George have not gone down. Nancy decides that she needs to go for help, since George cannot walk. On page 100 of the original text is the following passage.
Telling Bess of the plan, Nancy overruled her offer to go along. "No, you stay with George," she urged.
Yet Bess is at the bottom of the cliff, and the others are at the top! It must have been a little difficult to communicate, especially since earlier in the story, Bess and George shouted at Nancy, who was at the top of the cliff. The girls were at the bottom, and Nancy could not hear them. Strange.

This inconsistency was corrected in the revised text. After Nancy and George discuss how to get help, they climb down to Bess and tell her about George's injury. Nancy leaves, and Bess stays with George. This is better.

On page 104 of the original text, George remarks that her ankle feels better. It seems that her badly sprained ankle is healed within a couple of hours of the injury. At least in the revised text, page 83, "George limped through the shallow water to climb aboard the boat." I am a bit surprised that in both texts, George completes all of her usual activities from this point on with no ankle problems.

In the original text on page 158, a fisherman scoops Nancy into a net while she is swimming in the water. The fisherman almost does not have enough strength to pull Nancy up in the net. This scene just makes me think of the crazy Kay Tracey stories. In the revised text, the fisherman does not use his net but warns Nancy of the high tide. He then suddenly calls out for help after his leg gets stuck. This sequence of events is strange but is much improved over the crazy scene with Nancy in a net in the original text.

The revised text story ends with an odd exchange between Nancy and Ned. Ned wonders when Nancy would ever have enough mysteries. He suddenly comments that "there's one puzzle I wish you would solve for me." After Nancy queries him, Ned replies that "you always change the subject when I try to talk with you about something that isn't a bit mysterious!" The passage is strange because Nancy has done nothing to change the subject. The problem was caused by the removal of much of the passage from the original text.

In the original text, Ned tells Nancy that she "is a little pirate, you know!" He then declares that he knows "some people who would like to carry you off!" Nancy replies, "Why, Ned! If anyone should carry me away, how could I solve more mysteries?" Ned then makes the comment about when Nancy would have enough mysteries. The remaining comments, which are present in both texts, make perfect sense in the original text. In the revised text, the comments are taken out of context.

The Mystery of the Tolling Bell is one of two Nancy Drew books that were never purchased for me as a child. Unlike The Secret in the Old Attic, I did read The Mystery of the Tolling Bell one time when I checked it out from the library. The only reason I know that I read it is because I remember making a shoebox book report for the book. Since I did not own the book, I only read it one time. The books I owned were read multiple times. I have pointed to the fact that I did not read Old Attic and Tolling Bell multiple times as the reason as to why I have never liked them.

I decided that I like Old Attic after all when I read and reviewed it recently. Unfortunately, I continue to have a strong disliking for Tolling Bell even after this reading. In fact, this reading strengthened my dislike for Tolling Bell. The original text lacks logic in several places. The revised text improves the logic in some places but lacks logic in others. The revised text is choppy, but the original text is not very good. Therefore, I dislike both texts equally.


Laura said...

Glad you're back to doing OT/RT comparisons!

Wow, that picture is really weird! (I've read the revised text of Tolling Bell but I don't remember that picture at all, and I'd think I would because it's so weird.) The wording that goes along with the picture does seem familiar though.

Kansas Mad Man said...

I laugh aloud repeatedly, when reading any version of this story. The moldy food seems very "Scooby Doo," in part. . . I also thought Carson was dumb. Isn' this only one instance of Ned and Nancy finding him drugged, in a strange place? At least in the others, he wasn't in his shorts! Terrible!

Minnie, changing her name to "Hortense," as the cosmetics model makes me laugh, and laugh, and laugh. It was not an improvement. I have memorized the passage, due to the humor, about her wearing a sleeveless scarlet dress that was unfashionably short, exposing bony limbs. It sounds like she was promoting a different product altogether. The toxic lipstick and chalk-dust powder were priceless. When will Bess learn?

I didn't care as much for this story as others, either, but the cover art is good on the first two editions. I don't like Nappi illustrating a disheveled Nancy on so many revised covers of the 70s.

Heigh-ho, Grumper!