The Mystery at Lilac Inn

by Carolyn Keene
Series: Nancy Drew 4
Reviewed date: 2009 Mar 21
180 pages
cover art

I read Hardy Boys books when I was a kid, but this is my first Nancy Drew mystery novel. The Mystery at Lilac Inn is a decent book for kids. I read the 1960s version, which apparently has a completely different plot than the 1930s novel of the same name.

Nancy Drew helps crack a doozy of a case. At first it seems that a haunted inn, a diamond theft, and an impersonator are all separate cases. They eventually reveal themselves to be connected. Nancy gets into a lot of tight spots and loads of danger: her canoe tips over; her house is broken into and ransacked; a red panel truck runs her off the road; her cabin is bombed; she narrowly avoids being speared to death while skindiving; an unknown assailant heaves a huge rock at her; she's struck on the head and knocked out; and of course, she's kidnapped and tied up and left on a sinking ship to die.

She gets rescued. The bad guys, who couldn't resist bragging and telling her their whole plot, are picked up by a police cruiser.

The Mystery at Lilac Inn isn't a bad book, but it's difficult to read aloud to kids. Each chapter ends on a cliffhanger. That leads to whining and begging for me to read "just one more chapter." Then they start bargaining:

  • Just one more page.
  • Just one more sentence.
  • Just the first word! What's the first word?
  • What's the first letter? Just tell me the first letter.
  • Is it a vowel? Just tell me vowel or consonant!

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