The Password to Larkspur Lane

The Password to Larkspur Lane

infobox Book |
name = The Password to Larkspur Lane
title_orig =
translator =

image_caption =
author = Carolyn Keene
illustrator =
cover_artist =
country = United States
language = English
series = Nancy Drew Mystery Stories
genre = Mystery novel
publisher = Grosset & Dunlap
release_date = 1933
english_release_date =
media_type = Print (Hardback & Paperback)
pages =
isbn = NA
preceded_by =
followed_by =

The Password to Larkspur Lane is the tenth book in the "Nancy Drew" mystery series. It was first published in 1933 under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene. The actual author was ghostwriter Walter Karig.

Plot summary

In the 1933 version, the story opens with Nancy tending her prize delphiniums, when a mysterious carrier pigeon lands in her yard. The message, "Bluebells are now Singing Horses," is so odd, it causes her to contact the registry for the birds. Meanwhile, housekeeper Hannah falls and must be taken to the local orthopedist's office. Dr. Spires later confides to Carson Drew and Nancy that he was forced to tend an elderly woman for her shoulder -- the drivers of a car blindfolded him when they drove him there, so he wouldn't be able to guess her location, leading him to believe she was a prisoner. The only clue to her identity is a bracelet with a family crest, and the doctor's belief that she was being held on Larkspur Lane. Nancy of course immediately sets out to track the crest, discovering it belongs to the Eldridge family of St. Louis.

In the meantime, the registry contacts Nancy about the pigeon, suspecting something criminal is involved. Effie Schneider, a foolish girl, serves as Hannah's substitute, and gets in on the action when Nancy attempts to track the carrier pigeon's flight into the country. A strong woman attacks Nancy downtown, then steals the bracelet from her. Due to threats of intruders and increasing danger, the Drews accept Helen Corning's invitation to visit Sylvan Lake.

Coincidentally, Nancy rescues a young Eldridge child from a mishap at the lake, and learns an elderly relative is missing. Nancy and Helen explore the vicinity, finally finding "L.S. Lane." Near the little used road is an estate surrounded by an electrified fence, and also surrounded by delphiniums. Elderly patients are outside on the grounds. Mrs. Eldridge is outside, near the fence, and reveals she is indeed a prisoner. Nancy and Helen disguise themselves as an old lady and her nurse, and enter using the password, "Singing Horses." Nancy reaches Mrs. Eldridge, rescues her, and sends her safely away with Helen before being imprisoned by the evil doctor and his partners, who are kidnapping wealthy elderly people and forcing them to sign over money and securities. She escapes from her cistern prison, and sabotages their airplane, just as the police arrive.

In the revised version, from 1966, the plot is very similar, although condensed, and Bess and George are included in more of the story. "The," is dropped from the title. A sub-plot involving supernatural events at Helen Corning Archer's in-laws summer place on Sylvan Lake (ghostly blue wheels of rolling fire,) leads Nancy there. The butler, Morgan, is involved in some minor crimes as well. Bess accompanies Nancy in the rescue operations and replaces Helen, now Bess dresses like a nurse, and George is injured.


*This book was loosely adapted for the film "Nancy Drew, Detective" (1938) starring Bonita Granville. Further, its first edition led to much speculation for years in the collector's market. Apparently a final re-write took place after the book was set to go to press in August 1933, and this information, along with "revised and enlarged edition" was included with a September 1933 copyright notice. Walter Karig, who had ghost-written volumes eight and nine, filed a claim about this time, with the Library of Congress and with some press associations, that he was Carolyn Keene. The Stratemeyer Syndicate did not engage him to write any more books for violating the contract regarding secrecy of authors. Indirect evidence led collectors to believe that "Larkspur Lane" was originally intended to be volume nine, and that it and "The Sign of the Twisted Candles" were heavily edited immediately before publication to reduce Karig's claims of authorship. For many years, collectors sought the non-existent August printing of "Larkspur Lane".

*This book's original jacket artwork remained in print until 1962, long after most early volume dust jackets had been modernized for 1950s readers by illustrator Bill Gillies. Collectors speculate that publisher Grosset & Dunlap commissioned an updated illustration of the same scene during the transition from Gillies to new series artist Rudy Nappi in 1953. However, due to the presentation of Nancy in a shorter, contemporary skirt, the new painting showcased an indiscreet display of her upper thigh, was deemed inappropriate for American girls and shelved. The art later appeared on British dust jackets for this volume in 1960. In 2007, [ Literarture®,] licensed by Simon and Schuster, finally released the artwork in a limited edition dust jacket print in the United States. The company has verified with Rudy Nappi that he was not the artist of this mystery painting, although some collectors believe it could have been the work of prior artist Bill Gillies and its cancellation a factor in his departure as primary commissioned artist for the series.

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