The Clue of the Tapping Heels
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Original edition cover
|Cover artist||Russell H. Tandy|
|Series||Nancy Drew Mystery Stories|
|Publisher||Grosset & Dunlap|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|Preceded by||The Haunted Bridge|
|Followed by||The Mystery of the Brass Bound Trunk|
The Clue of the Tapping Heels is the sixteenth volume in the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories series. It was first published in 1939. An updated, revised, and largely different story was published under the same title in 1970. The 1939 version is published as a facsimile edition by Applewood Books. As of 2006[update], this title is still in print.
Plot summary, 1939 edition
Nancy Drew, age 16, has recently heard from her neighbor, Mrs. Carter, that her rare kittens are being stolen. Also, Mrs. Carter has accused a man named Fred of stealing a disabled child’s funds. The action soon takes Nancy to Boston and a cruise ship, where Nancy meets further peril in her attempts to restore the child's funds, and resolve the stolen-kitten quandary.
Nancy is appearing as a tap dancer in a charity show. Along with chums Bess and George, she begins investigating strange tapping sounds at the elderly Mrs. Purdy's home. Purdy is a cat enthusiast who owns mostly valuable breeding stock. Nancy determines there is a hoax afoot, there are attacks at the charity show, and the mysterious tapping sounds continue. Could they be coded messages?
The original Russell H. Tandy cover art shows an animated and visibly angry Nancy accompanied Bess and George. They are seizing a ladder at Nancy's house by moonlight. Discussions among collectors draw the conclusion that elements of this depiction were incorrect because the publisher's art department dictated that the scene must show Nancy with her friends. Also, the house doesn't match the description of Nancy Drew's home. The revised cover artwork by Rudy Nappi for the 1962 picture cover shows the same scene, corrected to match the actual text, but lacking action. Nancy, alone, sees the ladder outside her home at night. For the 1969 revised edition, the cover art is very vivid and somewhat psychedelic, with images of Nancy tap-dancing, and a head shot beneath a large Persian cat head, all on a sunflower-yellow background. This version was also painted by Nappi.
Adult collectors of nostalgia and juvenile series fiction often discuss book titles in fanzines or list serves. The original "Clue of the Tapping Heels" places much focus on cats, and also on a "lost love" subplot involving Miss Carter and her former leading man. There is a minor element of politically incorrectness in that one crook, wearing partial make-up and wigs is described as a freckle-faced colored man. Incense is used as a drug against Nancy and George, an element removed from the revision, as drugs were popular in teen culture at the time. Further, a young boy suffering from developmental and intellectual disabilities regains his full faculties after surgery, which is highly unlikely.
The revision also draws criticism due to what some feel are overt placements of Nancy commenting on her desire to attend church as often as she can, and contains much physical action and danger, but is generally somewhat more believable in tone.