The Clue of the Velvet Mask is the thirtieth volume in the original Nancy Drew Mystery Stories series. It was Mildred Benson‘s final ghostwrite for the series. The plot and story take place largely in Nancy’s hometown of River Heights. Nancy tries to solve a mystery about a gang of event thieves robbing homes during parties, lectures, musicals, and other social occasions planned or catered by Lightner’s Entertainment Company. Much of the original story contains elements of dramatic crime dramas; the villains are darker in tone than many other entries in the series.
Summaries (original edition)
As the story opens, Nancy and friends attempt to thwart suspicious, masked party-goers from reaching valuable objets d’art on display. At the party, Nancy finds an odd, black velvet hood, which she retains as a clue; most of the guests are wearing simpler, smaller masks as the evening is very warm. Her acquaintance, Linda, who is an employee of the Lightner company, is suspected of wrongdoing. At subsequent Lightner events, Nancy encounters other thieves, and is nearly suffocated by an evil pair of crooks. Nancy and George rent wigs to switch identities; however, George is kidnapped, her disguise removed, is put under the influence of hypnotic, mind-altering drugs, and threatened. This results in a timid, frightened characterization; paralyzed by fear, George refuses to help in the investigation and urges Nancy to stop.
Nancy focuses on the executive assistant at Lightner’s, Mr. Tombar, while she attempts to decode mysterious numbers written on the lining of the mask. She realizes that the numbers actually mark dates of events at which robberies took place, and starts attending each event in person as detective and as favor to Mr. Lightner. She encounters thieves at a wedding, a musicale, where they nearly smother her, and a lecture. Finally, Nancy attends another masquerade as a coat-check girl, and she stops a robbery in process, capturing a female member of the gang. She and Bess investigate the ramshackle Blue Iris Inn in the nearby countryside, trying to find out why Peter Tombar owns the property and what secrets it hides. On a hunch, she and Bess take an impromptu visit while talking with the recovering George Fayne, and fall victim to the evil Velvet gang. Only paranoid George knows where they are, and can identify the clothing last worn by Nancy. She must overcome her mental breakdown and get on the case when the girls fail to return.
Crime noir elements feature heavily in this book, and Ned Nickerson is prominently featured as a true partner in crime solving. Nancy is accosted by a woman in the opening chapters, comes face to face with a thief at a wedding reception, and is nearly suffocated when a pair of thieves wrap her face-down in a bedspread. George Fayne is drugged and a victim of criminal threat, and Ned is involved in two physical confrontations as well. Finally, Nancy and Bess are kidnapped, blindfolded, and abused verbally (this refers to an out-of-print version of the story).
Nancy Drew #30 The Clue of the Velvet Mask First Edition Book Identification Points
Only the first few printings of the first/second year are included. Printings codes are based on the Farrah Guide, 12th printing. Please refer to the guide for later printings.
|1953A-1||Plain||Nancy Drew #1-30, Dana Girls #1-14||A sm. number of copies have blue silhouette endpapers. Scarce.|
|1953B-2||Plain||Nancy Drew #1-30, Dana Girls #1-14|
|1953C-3||Plain||Nancy Drew #1-30, Dana Girls #1-15|
|1953C-4||Plain||Nancy Drew #1-30, Dana Girls #1-15|
Nancy Drew #30 The Clue of the Velvet Mask First Edition Dust Jacket Identification Points
|Printing||Price||Front Flap||Rear Panel||Rear Flap||Format|
|1953A-1||9595||Nancy Drew #1-30||Judy Bolton #1-24||Dana Girls #1-15||14|
|1953B-2||9595||Nancy Drew #1-30||Judy Bolton #1-24||Dana Girls #1-15||15|
|1953C-3||9595||Nancy Drew #1-30||Judy Bolton #1-24||Dana Girls #1-15||15|
|1953C-4||9595||Nancy Drew #1-30||Judy Bolton #1-25||Dana Girls #1-16||15|
- Farah’s Guide to Nancy Drew, 12th printing