Nancy Drew #68

The Elusive Heiress

Basic Plot: Nancy tries to find Arlo Winthrop's missing daughter.  She traces Clarinda’s footsteps - Lindy & Leroy had fled Cheyenne when falsely accused of being involved in a bank robbery and they fled to California.

You may also click here for a synopsis of this story by Todd Latoski, from the June 2005 edition of the online Nancy Drew fanzine, The Sleuth.


Cheyenne WY, during Frontier Days

Recurring Characters

Carson Drew, Hannah Gruen, Ned Nickerson

Characters and Suspects

  • Arlo Winthrop - millionaire
  • Clarinda Winthrop - his disinherited daughter, aka Lindy Thorpe Catlin/Greenfield
  • Grace Reed - Nancy’s mother’s best friend from before she married Carson
  • Mrs. Peterson - housemother from DeCateur Academy girls’ school
  • Jennifer Buckman - age 10
  • Lorna Greenfield Buckman - Jennifer’s mother and Clarinda’s daughter
  • Joshua Webber - owner of Webber’s dry goods store
  • Officer Dave Hill
  • Leroy Catlin - Lindy’s husband, aka Leroy Greenfield
  • Mrs. Ferguson - stagecoach lady
  • Bob Westmorelin - trustee for the Catlins’ abandoned farm
  • Pete & Diane Spencer - tenants on the ranch that helped Leroy and Lindy escape to California


  • Tom Mathews - nephew to Arlo Winthrop
  • Barry & Fred Mathews - Tom’s brothers, aka Mustache and Blond Friend
  • Elinor - one of the brothers’ wife

motivation: If Clarinda is never found, the Mathews stand to inherit Arlo’s fortune; Tom had also been embezzling funds throughout his years as Winthrop’s


Nancy and Ned follow the Mathews to the cabin and Lorna & Jennifer are rescued - have a reunion with Clarinda and Arlo; Carson found being held prisoner in Calgary and under heavy sedation


pushed into the way of a pinto in the parade
in stagecoach when team of horses runs away
charged by Brahma Bull

Key clues
box behind loose baseboard - diary hidden inside
names of occupants of cabin
Nancy's talents

Hannah cooks

cookies & lemonade

Nancy's outfits

jeans & plaid western shirt
blue satin gown (parade)
bright red & white checkered gingham square dancing dress
bright peasant skirt and pretty ruffled white blouse

Meaning of the title

tracing Clarinda through name changes and locations


items of interest


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

Wanderer "Arch" cover by Ruth Sanderson: page 90 - firecrackers thrown at horse's feet to cause runaway stagecoach (Nancy dressed up in period costume)

Wanderer "Checkerboard" cover by Bruce Emmett: page 161 - rescuing Jennifer & Lorna from the Spencers' cabin - Ned breaks out window; Nancy should be in a gingham dress

Minstrel cover by Bruce Emmett: same artwork used in Wanderer "Checks" edition, but image has been slightly cropped.

Armada (UK) Format "D" by Mike Adams: running from Brahma bull

Armada (UK) Format "C" cover by unknown artist: composition of elements from the story: Nancy in a cowboy hat, bucking bronco, desert landscape (although Wyoming is not really in the desert)

Tammi (Finnish) cover by Pentti Ajanto: same scene as Sanderson above

Forlagshuset (Norwegian) cover uses Sanderson's artwork (slightly modified? the sky/background appears to have been changes)

Indira (Indonesian) cover - recycles Ruth Sanderson artwork


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: 1982
Author: Sharon Wagner
Editor: Nancy Axelrad

Sanderson/W1/cream on red/44553-7,2.75,+
bl/pwt/bl/tp+/cp/tc/bl//Fan ad/ND#57-68, LC#1-6/bl

(General Publishing Co, Ltd)
Sanderson/W1/cream on red/44553-7,GPC,+
bl/pwt/bl/tp+/cp/tc/bl//Fan ad (wb)/ND#57-68, LC#1-6/bl

Sanderson/W1/cream on red/3.50,44553-7,+
bl/pwt/bl/tp+/cp/tc/bl//ND#57-75 ao of/bl/bl

Sanderson/W1/cream on red/xx,44553-7,+
bl/pwt/bl/tp+/cp/tc/bl//ND#57-xx ao of/bl/bl

Emmett/W2/two-toned aqua/3.50,+,62478-4
bl/pwt/bl/tp+/cp(10-4p,10-1)/tc/bl//ND#57-78 ao of/NDCF ad #1-4/bl

1st Minstrel
Emmett/M1/two-toned aqua, 350/pic,+,62478-4
bl/pwt/bl/tp+/cp/tc/bl//ND#57-81 ao of/HB#59-88 ao of/bl

2nd Minstrel
Emmett/M1/teal, 399/pic, 62478-4
BF#1-15/exc/ND#57-102/tp/cp+/tc/bl/pwt/bl//ND#57-103,g1 of/HB#59-110,g of/TSw#1-5 of/New BT#1-26 of/bl/bl/New BT ad

3rd Minstrel
Emmett1M1/teal, 3.99/pic, 62478-4
BF#1-15/exc/ND#57-106/tp/cp+/tc/bl/pwt/bl//ND#57-106,g1 of/HB#59-113,g of/New BT#1-29 of/PVly (4)/SMys (11) of/RHts#1-12 of/New BT ad



Foreign Title

Title's translation


Detektiv Nancy Drew og dobbeltmysteriet

Nancy and the double mystery


Neiti etsivä ja kadonnut perijätär

Nancy and the missing heiress

Pencarian Ahli Waris
Search heirs

The Elusive Heiress, artwork by Ruth Sanderson © 1982 by Simon & Schuster, New York.
The Elusive Heiress, artwork by Bruce Emmett © 1986 by Simon & Schuster, New York.
The Elusive Heiress, artwork by Mike Adams © 1990 by Fontana Paperbacks, London.
The Elusive Heiress, artwork unattributed © 1984 by Fontana Paperbacks, London.
Neiti Etsiva ja kadonnut perijätär, artwork by Pentti Ajanto © 1984 by Tammi, Helsinki.
Detektiv Nancy Drew og dobbeltmysteriet, artwork by Ruth Sanderson (?) © 1982 by Simon & Schuster, New York.

© 2002, 2016 Lea Shangraw Fox