The Sign of the Twisted Candles
|Illustrator||Russell H. Tandy|
|Series||Nancy Drew Mystery Stories|
|Publisher||Grosset & Dunlap|
|1933, revised 1968|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|Preceded by||Nancy's Mysterious Letter|
|Followed by||The Password to Larkspur Lane|
The Sign of the Twisted Candles is the ninth volume in the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories series. As the second volume written by Walter Karig, it was originally published in 1933 under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene. Due to Karig having died in 1956, as of January 1, 2007, the 1933 book and the other 2 Nancy Drew books he wrote, have passed into the public domain in Canada and other countries with a life plus 50 policy.
In the course of solving the mystery of an old man's disappearing fortune, Nancy both starts and ends a family feud and reveals the identity of an orphan of unknown parentage. The second of three novels by ghostwriter Walter Karig, this story focuses on Nancy's encounter with a 100-year-old man at The Sign of the Twisted Candles, a roadside inn and restaurant. Nancy and her friends, Bess and George, take afternoon tea there while waiting out a storm, where Nancy's roadster is blocked by a fallen tree. They encounter Asa Sidney, celebrating his 100th birthday, and the pathetic maid and waitress, Sadie Wipple, mistreated by her adoptive parents, Frank and Emma Semmit.
Nancy discovers Mr. Sidney is an elderly relative of Bess and George, and her willingness to communicate with him launches a family feud upon his death a few days later. This leaves Nancy chumless, as the cousins refuse to associate with Nancy.
Sadie is named as the major benefactress, and Nancy sets out to prove Frank and Emma Semmit have misappropriated property. Nancy also must discover why Asa was interested in young Sadie. Meanwhile, relatives from the Sidney and Boonton families fight over the money.
While investigating, Nancy is reunited with her friends, and later, in the climax, is nearly killed when she is pushed while climbing a ladder against a tower window as is illustrated as internal art in the original 1933 edition. Sadie is discovered to be the great-niece of Asa Sidney and thus owns the rights to a number of inventions awaiting patents from Sidney, in addition to securities. The family feud is resolved due to Nancy's discoveries.
In the original edition, Nancy is shown meeting with Mr. Sidney in a simple summer dress and hat. This edition is noted for its internal art depicting Nancy pushed from a ladder. This illustration and two others were dropped in 1936 and subsequent editions.
Bill Gillies' 1950 cover art shows Nancy watching from a window as Frank Semmit digs a hole outside. A more simply executed version of this image was used for half of the end paper used from 1953 to 1959 (known as the 'Digger' end paper). The end papers show the digging man, while Nancy (in art adapted from The Secret of Red Gate Farm) hides behind a tree and watches.
The 1968 cover art shows a flip-haired Nancy near a candle with Asa glowering in the background. This art was also used as a generic cover stock, in red, blue and pink, for library binding or rebound library copies of all titles in the series.