Nancy Drew #77

The Bluebeard Room

In 1985, Wanderer Books appears to have made a decision to try and update Nancy Drew's image to have her appeal to the growing teenage romance market, and The Bluebeard Room is the first attempt by editors to include turbulent emotions and more serious crimes into Nancy's world. Later, these elements would be consigned to the "sister series" of the Files, but over the course of this story and the subsequent release, The Phantom of Venice, Nancy will kiss four different men. The Bluebeard Room is firmly entrenched in the culture of the 1980s, with references to Billy Idol, Boy George and cocaine smuggling and is therefore a fun read, albeit a decadent one.

Basic Plot: Mrs. Harwood asks Nancy to investigate why childhood friend Lisa has been acting strangely since her marriage. During the visit to England, Nancy becomes romatically linked to two men while investigating drug smuggling and witchcraft. Click here for chapter by chapter synopsis of the action.

In 2004, Her Interactive developed their computer game The Curse of Blackmoor Manor based on The Bluebeard Room. To suit the "age 10 and above" target audience, great liberties were taken with the original plot, including the elimination of references to cocaine smuggling and Nancy's various suitors. Penvellyn Castle is moved to the neighboring Dartmoor area and the legend of the Blackmoor Beast is added. These changes both appear to be nods to the Sherlock Holmes story The Hound of the Baskervilles. The only characters who make it into the game are Lisa (now known as Linda), Hugh, Ethel, Lady Phoebe (now known as Elinor), Mrs. Harwood (now known as Mrs. Petrov) and Nigel (who has been transformed into an East Indian historian). There are additional characters named Jane and Alan, but they are not related to the people in the book in any way. The game is well conceived and extremely spooky! There is even a French version entitled La Malédiction du Manoir de Blackmoor.


Long Island; New York City; London; Penvellyn Castle in Cornwall, near the village of Polpenny

Recurring Characters

Bess Marvin, George Fayne, Eloise Drew, Carson Drew, Hannah Gruen (but Nancy is alone in UK during most of story)


  • Lance Warrick - lead singer of Crowned Heads
  • Olive Austin Harwood - old neighbor of Nancy's from River Hts.
  • Sam Austin - deceased; her father, banker
  • Lisa Harwood Penvellyn - her daughter
  • S Lord Hugh Penvellyn - her husband
  • Alan Trevor - reporter for Western Sun
  • Jane Royce - PR/promoter for Crowned Heads
  • Lady Phoebe Harwood Penvellyn - historical figure; ancestor of Lisa, burned as witch
  • Nigel Murgatroyd, owner of shop called Merlin's Den - archaeologist and expert on the occult
  • Sgt. Weintraub - NYPD narcotics squad
  • Mrs. Roby - Ian's landlady in Holland Park
  • Landreth - Penvellyns' butler
  • Col. Tremayne - helpful Cornish man
  • Dr. Palmer - Ian's doctor (psychiatrist)
  • Constable Kenyon
  • Eustace Thorne - antique dealer
  • Mr. Dawlish - British barrister
  • Old Lord Penvellyn - Hugh's uncle, deceased
  • 2 stylish London drug dealers

    The Crowned Heads

  • Adam Muir - keyboards
  • Bobo Evans - drums (see below)
  • Freddie Isham - bass
  • Ian Purcell - former bassist with a drug problem


The Coven

  • Ivor Roscoe - "squire"
  • Diane Roscoe
  • Ethel Bosinny - retired games-mistress from local girls school
  • Dr. Carradine
  • Bobo Evans

Motivation: The coven is involved in drug trafficking


Nancy and Lance discover the coven room containing matching statue to Golden Mab, a legendary figure of Maeve, the Celtic goddess. Nancy, Lance, Hugh and Alan overpower the coven members as they are conducting a drug deal.

Nancy's Mis-adventures

cocaine planted in her purse
tabloids regarding romance with Lance
caught in quicksand

Key clues

elf-dart (arrowhead)
wreckage from the "Undine"

Nancy's talents

scuba diving

Hannah Cooks

homemade blackberry cordial

Nancy's outfits

smart green and white striped silk dress, with a straw hat

sapphire blue dress with strings of pearls and matching earrings

sweater and jeans

chic black party dress

jeans, sweater & mocassins

bikini, tank top and jeans

scuba gear (wetsuit)

Bess shops

parcels from Bloomie's

Meaning of the title

special room which Lisa may never enter per her husband - refers to the Bluebeard legend, as the pirate held the heads of his previous wives in a sealed room

items of interest

strings of pearls and matching earrings are gift from CD for 18th birthday
Eloise's building is described as a charming old Victorian apartment building on the Upper West 
   Side with turrets, gargoyles and crenelated ramparts; she lives aboves 50th St. along the 
   Broadway/7th Ave. train line
George calls Eloise "Miss Drew"
Nancy calls Eloise "Aunt Ellie"
page 73 - Ned and Nancy have decided to date other people


Below is a gallery of all the covers I have found for The Bluebeard Room. Below each picture is the artist's name, and a brief description of the scene depicted.

Wanderer "Checkerboard" cover by Hector Garrido: pg. 148 - with Lance in the underwater grotto below the Bluebeard Room. Nancy holds the powerful underwater lantern, while Lance investigates a cylindrical iron cage suspended from the ceiling (missing in this illustration)

Wanderer "Checkerboard" cover by Bob Berran: page 102 - Lisa is sleepwalking and has gone to the top of the tower, and is about to walk off the notched parapet. Nancy should be in her robe and slippers, not a formal gown.

Minstrel cover by Aleta Jenks: page 149 - Nancy and Lance in the dank stone stairwell (which should be winding) leading up to the Bluebeard room. There is a plain wooden panel at the top of the stairs before the entrance to the room. Nancy and Lance should still be in their wetsuits. Lance is described as having spiky blond hair (like Billy Idol's).

Hachette (France) cover by Martine Laurent: Nancy shivers in the chilly Cornish weather, with Penvellyn Castle in the background.

Armada (UK) Format "C" and Format "D" covers by unknown artist: very accurate representation of the Bluebeard Room, as Nancy discovers the Golden Mab (correctly holding a mirror in her right hand) and the portrait of Phoebe Penvellyn with a horned devil. The stone room is decorated with medieval furniture, and the statue is on a low stone altar, in a ring of candlesticks, in front of a huge fireplace. Nancy should be in her wetsuit, and Lance should be with her.

Wahlströms (Sweden) cover by Bob Berran: same and second U.S. cover above.

Forlagshuset (Norway) cover by unknown artist: appears to be UK artwork, but reversed and cropped, then Nancy's clothes painted over so that she is now (properly) outfitted in her wetsuit (although she left her scuba tank below). Unfortunately because of the reversal in the picture, the statue is now incorrectly holding the mirror in her left hand.

Tammi (Finnish) cover by Kaarina Hanström: not sure what scene this might be, but the red sports car looks like one Lance might have driven (although his is a convertible). It also looks like the scene takes place in Polpenny, due to the architecture and view of the sea.

Angus & Robertson (Australia) - recycles the U.S. artwork by Hector Garrido, but accidentally switched the covers for Bluebeard Room and Phantom of Venice


This chronological listing of printings mimics the identification system developed by David Farah for his guide on Nancy Drew. He has given me permission to replicate his system for the purpose of categorizing the paperbacks from this series. For those of you not familiar with his methods for identifying a printing, the first line describes the outside of the book (cover/spine/back cover) and the second line describes the internal pages (inside cover/pre-text pages/post-text pages/inside back cover).

Published:  1985
author:  James Lawrence

Due to errors by the publisher, there are 2 "1st Minstrel" and 2 "2nd Minstrel" printings for The Bluebeard 
Room.   They forgot to change the information on the copyright page when new artwork was introduced.

Garrido/W2/two-toned yellow/3.50,pic,+,49743-X
bl/pwt/bl/tp/cp/tc/bl//ND#57-78 ao of/bl

Garrido/W2/two-toned yellow/3.50,+,49743-X
bl/pwt/bl/tp/cp/tc/bl//ND#57-78 ao of/bl

1st Minstrel
Garrido/M1/two-toned yellow/3.50,pic,+,49743-X
bl/pwt/bl/tp/cp/tc/bl//ND#57-79 ao of/bl

1st Minstrel (#2)
Berran/M1/plum, 350/pic, 66857-9
bl UPC/exc/ND#57-83/tp/cp+/tc/bl//ND#57-84 ao of/bl

2nd Minstrel
Berran/M1/plum, 350/pic, 66857-9
bl UPC/exc/ND#57-83/tp/cp+/tc/bl//ND#57-99, g1 of/bl

2nd Minstrel (#2)
Jenks/M1/dark periwinkle blue, 350/pic, 66857-9
BF#1-16/exc/ND#57-104/tp/cp+/tc/bl//ND#57-99, g1 of/NewBT ad



Foreign Title

Title's translation


La chambre secrète

The secret chamber


Kitty och trollpilen

Nancy and the magic (?) arrow


Detektiv Nancy Drew på heksejakt

Nancy goes witch-hunting


Neiti etsivä ja Siniparran huone

Nancy and the Bluebeard Room

The Bluebeard Room, artwork by Hector Garrido © 1985 by Simon & Schuster, New York. 
The Bluebeard Room, artwork by Bob Berran © 1988 by Simon & Schuster, New York. 
The Bluebeard Room, artwork by Aleta Jenks © 1992 by Simon & Schuster, New York. 
The Bluebeard Room, artwork unattributed © 1986 by Fontana Paperbacks, London. 
La chambre secrète, artwork by Martine Laurent © 1988 by Hachette, Paris.
The Phantom of Venice, artwork by Hector Garrido © 1985 by Simon & Schuster, New York.
Neiti Etsivä ja Siniparran huone, artwork by Kaarina Hanström © 1989 by Painokaari Oy, Helsinki.

© 2001, 2004 Lea Shangraw Fox