And so we review The Clue in the Crumbling...
Wait a minute. You say this isn't The Clue in the Crumbling Wall? But, there's a castle...and a missing heiress. And a moat. And action scenes with boats on the river. And a kidnap victim hidden in the castle...
Are you sure?
Oooohhhh, you say: "But, there's a moonstone!"
Sure. Totally different. I get it.
Of course, my text drips with sarcasm. While I can't say I didn't enjoy The Moonstone Castle Mystery, I must admit that it is far too derivative of it's predecessor, The Clue in the Crumbling Wall. Only it doesn't have a hilarious scene with George losing her clothes.
The story begins with Nancy hearing about a mystery, a missing girl who is set to inherit a large sum of money but went missing after the death of her guardians. She is almost immediately sent the cryptic gift of a moonstone which, the accompanying note says, will keep her from danger. Is this note from friend or foe? I can't really say I care, because I'm already feeling like I've read this book before.
Nancy, Bess and George visit Deep River Valley (formerly known as Moonstone Valley...coincidence?!) and stay at a local hotel, where Ned, Burt and Dave are to follow. Bess soon meets an attractive young man named Alan, and is relieved when he has to leave before Dave Evans arrives as she "hates complications." Oh, no you don't, Bess! You loves you some drama!
The girls immediately try to befriend the town busybody, the proprietor of a tea shop and cafe called the Brass Kettle, only to learn that a ne'er do well named Mr Seaman has already been inquiring about her!
Wait, Seaman? Is this a mother&**^%*ing SAILOR again?
Apparently not; it's just some guy named Seaman. If that sounds fake, it's because it is. Nancy manages to evade Mr. Seaman, and she and the girls come across a mysterious castle. Moonstone Castle. COINCIDENCE?! NEVER. After a number of repetitive scenes wherein Nancy and the girls can't control the mechanism on the drawbridge, they realize someone must be living in the castle. With this and the name of the castle, Nancy and the girls rightly assume it is somehow connected to the mystery.
After investigating the castle, the girls try to track down the executor of the missing heiress's guardian's will, Mr. Wheeler, but are shut out at every turn. Then, just when the lawyer seems ready to share what he knows about the missing girl, he is kidnapped from the hospital after a crazy boat chase. Nancy, of course, would have never let this happen, but she was detained by local police who suspected her of stealing the boat that struck them. Ned points out that they have no evidence they stole, while the deputy provides the counterpoint that the group has no evidence they DIDN'T steal the boat. Unsurprisingly, they are not able to convince the police of this egregious assault on logic. However, Nancy mentioning her father's name always does the trick, as he is seriously the Brad Pitt of lawyers. Everyone, everywhere knows about Carson Drew.
Even though Mr. Wheeler is missing, the gang finds a new lead: a girl in town who has a similar name to the missing heiress, Jody Horton (the girl in town is named Jodine Anderson). This is a razor thin lead, but of course, turns out to be correct. The girls are able to prove that Jodine Anderson is really Joanie Horton, they find Mr. Wheeler trapped in the castle, and the villains are finally caught.
Who sent the moonstone, you may be asking? Well, apparently a former housemaid who assisted Hannah Gruen when Nancy was younger got into a bad relationship. Once she overheard her husband's plans to stop the Drews from finding the girl by any means necessary, she sent Nancy the stone as a warning. I don't really know how the villains knew that Carson and Nancy were on the case so fast, but whatever--it was a medium-exciting reveal.
As you can probably guess, this one didn't end up being a favorite upon re-reading. I give it 2/5 mags (some enjoyable pieces, but not enough to save it from the inevitable deja vu of coming after The Clue in the Crumbling Wall).