The Secret at Shadow Ranch

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The Secret of Shadow Ranch
Original edition
Author Carolyn Keene
Illustrator Russell H. Tandy
Country United States
Language English
Series Nancy Drew Mystery Stories
Genre Juvenile literature
Publisher Grosset & Dunlap
Publication date
1931, 1965
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 175
Preceded by The Mystery at Lilac Inn
Followed by The Secret of Red Gate Farm

The Secret of Shadow Ranch is the fifth volume in the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories series. It was first published in 1931 under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene, and was ghostwritten by Mildred Wirt Benson. This book, as of 2001, ranks 50 on the list of All-Time Bestselling Children's Books, according to Publishers Weekly, with 2,347,750 sales since 1931.

Plot summary - 1931 edition[edit]

This story serves as an introduction to Nancy's friends, Elizabeth "Bess" Marvin and George Fayne, cousins who are as different from each other as night and day. They, along with another of their cousins, Alice Regor, travel with Nancy to Arizona, where the cousins' aunt attempts to keep up a ranch she received as payment of a debt. Nancy reunites Alice with her long-lost artist father, who is suffering from amnesia. She also uncovers the mystery behind why an old mountain woman is guardian of a beautiful young girl, all the while enjoying mountain life, including horseback riding, a flash flood, being lost in the mountains overnight, and a dangerous mountain lion.

1965 revision[edit]

Nancy travels with her friends Bess and George to Arizona, Nancy also tries to solve two other mysteries: Why is a phantom horse haunting the ranch, and what happened to the treasure promised by Dirk Valentine, legendary Old West outlaw, to his estranged sweetheart, one of the original residents of the ranch? The girls find diversion with attractive young men at the ranch and in the community, and are already skilled with horses and western life.


Russell H. Tandy illustrated the original dust jacket and internal illustrations, and the frontispiece. In 1950, Bill Gillies revised the cover art, which featured Nancy on a rearing horse. The art was revised for the new story in 1965, this time by Rudy Nappi, and featuring the phantom horse.

Continuity Error[edit]

  • Though Ned Nickerson is mentioned in passing in this book as being in Europe, Nancy doesn't actually meet Ned until two books later, The Clue in the Diary, #7. This mistake was made when this title was revised. In the revised text, Nancy is said to be knitting a sweater for Ned, identified as her boyfriend, in the first chapter. George references the sweater and Ned again in the final chapter. Since Nancy has not yet met Ned in the series, this error was corrected in subsequent printings in the first chapter substituting Ned's name with that of Carson Drew. The last chapter still mentioned Ned as the one who would receive the sweater. Many printings later, George's remark in the last chapter from "Ned" to "your dad" when she mentions the sweater Nancy is knitting. However, Ned is still mentioned in this book as being in Europe (page 111), but the reader doesn't have any explanation about who Ned actually is since the opening and closing chapters no longer mention his name.

Nancy Drew Mobile Mysteries: Shadow Ranch[edit]

Sometime in early 2011, interactive entertainment developer, Her Interactive, released an app called Shadow Ranch under their new subseries of Nancy Drew games entitled Mobile Mysteries. Shadow Ranch is a story-based gamebook app with the book aspect of it being the actual text of the Shadow Ranch novel and the game aspect of it has minigames within the story and shows the voices and screenshots of characters and locations from the actual The Secret of Shadow Ranch (video game). Shadow Ranch is available only for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch, priced at $4.99 for the iPad and $1.99 for the iPhone and iPod Touch.