Nancy Drew, the Secret of the Old Clock: Recommended Readalikes

These Books Made Me
5 min readDec 8, 2022


Photo by alexey turenkov on Unsplash

Move over Sherlock Holmes, this is a series for the girls*. Created as the counterpart to the Hardy Boys series, Nancy Drew became the female detective for generations of women. The Nancy Drew series did a surprisingly good job of disregarding stereotypical gender roles, considering that the books came out in the 1930’s. She has no issue breaking into houses, hiding stolen evidence, or lying to the police when the situation suits her. She’s confident and straightforward when she speaks to adults who, on the whole, treat her like an equal. We loved it. Young readers looking for more tales of young sleuths doing what the adults can’t might enjoy some of the following books:

  • Drew Leclair Gets a Clue by Katryn Bury
    Even though the girl of the week is Nancy Drew, we couldn’t help suggesting this modern take on Harriet the Spy, another one of our female heroines. She’s got all the right tools: several full notebooks, a passion for true crime, and a long list of mysteries successfully solved. Nothing can get past her, right? She’s confident in her powers of observation until her mother runs off to Hawaii with the school guidance counselor, leaving her wondering how she missed all the clues. Things get even worse when a cyberbully starts posting rumors about other students at school. She has to bring them to justice before they can spill the beans on her. The publication date for the sequel, Drew Leclair Crushes the Case, has already been announced!
  • The Great Shelby Holmes by Elizabeth Eulberg
    If you’re looking for a series already well underway, the adventures of Shelby and her sports-loving sidekick John (Watson) might be for you. The Great Shelby Holmes is the first of four books about the duo. Shelby isn’t your average sixth grader. She’s only nine-years-old, a little over four feet tall, and already the best detective in her Harlem neighborhood. Everyone knows her name. When their classmate’s dog goes missing, she knows she’s gonna need the help of her newfound friend to solve the mystery. Readers who are familiar with the Sherlock Holmes universe (both the original series and the more recent adaptations) will find plenty of easter eggs hidden within the series. I mean, come on. She lives in 221B and has a dog named Sir Arthur.
  • Mystery in the Mansion by Lauren Magaziner
    If you’re interested in a book with more than just words, this is the one for you. Mystery in the Mansion, the first of the Case Closed series, is a puzzle-filled choose-your-own-adventure book. Readers choose which suspects to interview, which questions to ask, and which clues to follow. We join Carlos Serrano on the morning of a big investigation happening at the Las Pistas Detective Agency. When his mother becomes ill, it ends up being up to Carlos, his best friend Eliza, her little brother Frank, and the reader to take over the investigation. There are eccentric millionaires, buried treasures, and more. Will you figure out who’s sending death threats, find the treasure, and save the Detective Agency?

Teens and adults looking for more mature mysteries might try some of these titles:

  • The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie
    Agatha Christie (that’s Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, Lady Mallowan, to you) was best known for her detective novels. She was so well known, in fact, that she was made a Dame by Queen Elizabeth II in 1971 for her contributions to literature. We’re not saying that you should read all of her books (you should), but you’re missing out if you skip her Miss Jane Marple series. Miss Marple, a sweet yet feisty older woman, lives in the sleepy little village of St. Mary Mead. With an inspector who seems inept at best, Miss Marple decides it’s in everyone’s best interests if she gets involved. Being the busybody that she is, she immediately declares that she has seven suspects. Will she solve the case before the police can? You’ll have to dive into this cozy murder mystery to find out!
  • Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters
    Amelia Peabody inherited two things from her father: a considerable fortunate and unbendable will. It sounds familiar, doesn’t it (we’re looking at you, Nancy “Bought All The Charity Tickets” Drew)? With the financial freedom most of us can only dream of, the 31-year-old woman sets off to Cairo to indulge her passion for Egyptology. On the way, she comes across the young Evelyn Barton-Forbes, abandoned and scorned by her lover. Together the two women set sail up the Nile towards an archeological site… only to be interrupted by a very lively mummy. Amelia Peabody will need all her wits about her to avoid the devastating effects of the mummy’s curse. Note: This is a great series to pick at if you don’t want a huge time commitment. Each book in the series is a stand-alone mystery and requires little previous knowledge. Readers can start just about anywhere. Just be aware that there are a few spoilers concerning some of the main characters in the later books.
  • Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood
    The first in a twenty-two book series (you read that right), Cocaine Blues introduces us to our main protagonist, the Honourable Miss Phryne Fisher. Miss Fisher is a 1920s socialite living growing bored of the endless chit chat and flower arrangements that make up most of her time. She’d much rather travel to Melbourne, Australia to attempt to make a name for herself as a detective. Almost immediately, Miss Fisher is thrown into a world full of corrupt cops and cocaine smuggling rings. She’s up for the challenge, though, and the entire adventure will end one way or another in the Turkish baths of Little Lonsdale Street.

*psss there’s no such thing as a “boy” or “girl” book

This blog is created by Hannah and Ella in conjunction with the These Books Made Me podcast, a Prince George’s County Memorial Library System production. Check out the corresponding episode on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you normally listen to podcasts.



These Books Made Me

These Books Made Me is a podcast about the literary heroines who shaped our childhoods. @PGCMLS