Nancy Drew #57

The Triple Hoax

The Triple Hoax was the first story produced by the Stratemeyer Syndicate under their new contract with Simon and Schuster which began in 1979. Its release marks the beginning of the era of the Paperback Nancys.

Hoax: An act intended to trick or dupe, something accepted or established by fraud or fabrication (from Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary)

Basic Plot: Nancy, Bess and George are called to New York by Aunt Eloise to help investigate the swindling of Mrs. Richards. The group attends magic show by the Hoaxsters where Bess volunteers to go on stage and has her handbag lifted. It is returned to her at the end of the show intact, but Nancy is suspicious that it has been searched. Show departs town suddenly, and girls decide to follow the potential con men to Mexico City, then later to Los Angeles. The girls meet Sra. Mendez at the Hoaxster show in Mexico; her grand-daughter Dolores is kidnapped soon after. Click here for chapter by chapter synopsis of the action.


New York City, Mexico City, Los Angeles

Recurring Characters

primarily Bess Marvin, George Fayne; also Carson Drew, Eloise Drew, Hannah Gruen, Ned Nickerson, Burt Eddleton, Dave Evans, Chief McGinnis, Mrs. Marvin, Mr. Fayne


  • Annabella Richards - wealthy widow friend of Eloise's
  • Roscoe - her chauffeur
  • Trudie - her housekeeper
  • Chief Raleigh - NYPD
  • Mr. Horner - owner of medical lab
  • hostess at luncheonette
  • Susie - waitress
  • Marian Greening - friend of Mrs. Richards in Washington DC
  • delivery man
  • Dr. Masiono
  • Max Topping - taxi driver
  • clerk at Fortunato Hotel
  • Señor Gonzales - hotel manager
  • Lieutenant Tara - Mexico City PD
  • chief of police - Mexico City
  • Señora Clara - boutique owner
  • Señora Rosa Mendez- rich widow from Oaxaca
  • Dolores - her grand-daughter
  • light-headed female tourist
  • smarmy young man
  • Fernando Pedroa - collector of ancient poison vials
  • maintenance man at theatre
  • Señor Tomás - theatre manager
  • Sara - Indian cleaning woman
  • roadside Indian women
  • Mr. Rivera - customs official
  • Mr. & Mrs. Vetter - for neighbors of the Drews, now residing in Los Angeles
  • Scotty and a nother fireman - LAFD
  • guard at airport
  • Mr. Harrison - Fern Printing Company
  • Officer Young - LAPD
  • Chairman of convention of US detectives
  • Dolores's parents


The Hoaxsters:

  • Howie Barker/Henry Clark/Ralph Rafferty - glib con man
  • Ronaldo Jensen/San Gambro/Horace Browne - sleight of hand man
  • Mrs. Browne - his obnoxious wife
  • Lefty Cadwell
  • Alfredo Scorpio - father of Enzo, cousin of Gambro
  • various unnamed associates within Hoaxster network

Secondary culprit: Enzo Scorpio - asst at Horner's lab

Motivation: search through belongings of audience to find out ideas on how to swindle individuals or blackmail

Secondary mystery: Enzo steals Florentine vial of poison to sell for profit


Ned and Nancy jump the fence at the Brownes to rescue Dolores and are captured themselves. As the Brownes flee, they are stopped by the rest of the gang. The stolen vial is found at the house, as is the ransom money (hidden in Mrs. Richard's stolen limo).

Nancy's Mis-adventures

  • sideswiped in taxi
  • oil painting crashed over her head
  • accused of smuggling stolen jade figurine out of Mexico
  • car w/ luggage is stolen
  • fire set in hosts' laundry room

Bess shops

summer dress

Key clues

ransom note "to 8 by X"

fern leaf watermark

Nancy's outfits

turquoise skirt

Meaning of the title

per Nancy 1) swindling of Mrs Richards 2) kidnapping of Dolores 3) when Ned disguises himself in beard and mustache to bait the Hoaxters at their show in LA


framed award from the detectives' convention

items of interest

George has to beg her parents for money for the trip to Mexico because her "detective allowance" has been all used up

Bess & George don't speak a word of Spanish; Nancy does, and Ned speaks a little

River Heights is in the Eastern time zone

Ned is majoring in "science"

Dave has an uncle in the printing business

Nancy "names" her mystery The Triple Hoax


Below is a gallery of all the covers I have found for The Triple Hoax. Below each picture is the artist's name, and a brief description of the scene depicted. This is the most reprinted of the paperback titles.

Wanderer "Arch" cover by Ruth Sanderson: Nancy standing pensively in foreground with Hoaxsters performing their act in back. The members of the troupe are not described in detail other than Ronaldo Jensen, the sleight of hand man who wears a "perky" mustache. This artwork also appears on the Scholastic edition.

Wanderer "Checkerboard" cover by Garin Baker: pages 70-71 - The girls have just descended from the Pyramid of the Sun when Nancy spots Enzo rounding the corner. George, Bess and Sra. Mendez should also be in the scene.

Minstrel cover by Linda Thomas, Fernández (Mexican) cover by copyist: pages 70-71 - same scene as above (Baker). Although hard to see in the scan above, the Mexican cover has been carefully redrawn based on the Thomas original.

Wahlströms (Sweden) and Rege (Hungarian) cover by Linda Thomas.

Vergara (Argentine) cover by Ruth Sanderson - see Wanderer edition above.

Wahlströms (Sweden) cover by Ulla Urkio - same as Sanderson's Wanderer cover above.

Armada (UK) Format "B" and Angus & Robertson cover by Peter Archer: pages 70- 71 - same scene as above (Baker, Thomas). After spotting Enzo, Nancy grabs George to point him out. George runs after the suspect, with Nancy right behind and Bess bringing up the rear. The chase goes on for some time and the 3 girls take different routes. Nancy almost catches him at the parking lot, but he gets away in a fleeing car. Text mentions that she has her handbag with her (missing in this illustration).

Armada (UK) Format "C" cover by unknown artist: composition of elements from the story - magician, ransom note for Dolores (described on page 158) and a house on fire (the Vetters' laundry room?).

Mondadori (Italian) cover by Marco Rostagno: pages 70-71 - same as above - Nancy is pointing out Enzo to George.

Masque Jeunesse (France) Format "J" and Hachette Format "O" cover by Philippe Daure (this artwork also featured on Formats F, K, L - doves & second man omitted on O only): Ronaldo Jensen during Hoaxster performance (note perky mustache); the troupe performs several magic tricks, although none with doves are specifically mentioned. Not sure of the significance of the other man dressed up as a swami - the other Hoaxsters are not described as wearing any such costume.

Forlagshuset (Norwegian) cover by unknown artist: page 87 - Nancy is searching for clues in the Mexico City theater regarding Hoaxsters next destination. While she is on the stage, the theater's maintenance man jams an oil painting over her head. Notice how this cover mimics Paul Frame's 4th internal from the American edition.

Tammi (Finnish) cover by Ajanto? - scene similar to Sanderson above (but actual scene and Ned in audience getting idea to go on stage in disguise)

Tammi (Finnish) cover by Kaarina Hanström: Nancy finding Dolores in the attic of the Brownes' house.

Mizrahi (Israeli) cover by unattributed artist - similar to Baker and Archer above - Nancy is chasing Enzo through the Aztec ruins

Indira (Indonesian) cover by Ruth Sanderson

malay hoax

Malaysian cover by unattributed artist - Nancy at the hoaxsters performance?
(not confirmed as translation)


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:  1979
author:  Harriet Adams
editor:  Harriet Adams, Lilo Wuenn

Sanderson/W1/cream on dark purple/1.95,95512.-8,+
bl/pwt/bl/tp+/cp/tc/definition of "hoax"/Fan ad (wb)/bl/bl
Note:  there are two versions of the first printing; on the copyright page, one says "Also available in 
Wanderer Paperback Edition" and the other says "Also available in Wanderer Hardback Edition"

Sanderson/W1/cream on dark purple/1.95,+,95512-8
bl/pwt/bl/tp+/cp/tc/definition of "hoax"/Fan ad (wb)/bl/bl

Sanderson/W1/cream on dark purple/1.95,95512-8,+
bl/pwt/bl/tp+/cp/tc/definition of "hoax"/Fan ad (wb)/bl/bl

Sanderson/W1/cream on dark purple/1.95,95512-8,+
bl/pwt/bl/tp+/cp/tc/definition of "hoax"/Fan ad/bl/bl

Sanderson/W1/cream on dark purple/2.50,95512-8,+
bl/pwt/bl/tp+/cp/tc/definition of "hoax"/Fanad (wb)/ND#57-60, LC#1-4/bl

Sanderson/W1/cream on dark purple/95512-8,2.85-2.95,+
bl/pwt/bl/tp+/cp/tc/definition of "hoax"/Fan ad (wb)/bl

6th (General Publishing Ltd.)
Sanderson/W1/cream on dark purple/95512-8,GPC,+
bl/pwt/bl/tp+/cp/tc/definition of "hoax"/Fan ad (wb)/bl

Sanderson/W1/cream on dark purple/2.95,95512-8,+
bl/pwt/bl/tp+/cp/tc/definition of "hoax"/ND#57-75 ao of/bl/bl

Sanderson/W1/cream on dark purple/95512-8,+
bl/pwt/bl/tp+/cp/tc/definition of "hoax"/ND#57-78ao of/NDCF#1/bl

Baker/W2/two-toned brick red/3.50, pic,+,64278-2
bl/exc/ND#57-78/tp/cp/tc/bl/pwt/bl/ND#57-78 ao of/RHts CCF/HB#59-85 ao of/DrG#1-16/S+S(16) of/PrS#1-6/bl

1st Minstrel
Thomas/Minstrel/dark teal, 350/pic,69153-8
bl UPC/exc/ND#57-91/tp/cp/tc/bl/pwt/bl/ND#57-91,g1 of/NewBT#1-14 of/Min (17)/Min (18) of/BF#1-5 of/Min (20) of/bl

2nd Minstrel
Thomas/Minstrel/dark teal, 399/pic, 69153-8
BF#1-16/exc/ND#57-106/tp/cp/tc/bl/pwt/bl/ND#57-107,g1 of/NewBT#1-29 of/Min (19)/Min (18) of/BF#1-16 of/Min (22) of/New BT ad

bl/pwt/bl/tp+/cp (12-1,1-6/8)/tc/definition of "hoax"/bl/bl/bl



Foreign Title

Title's translation


Alice et les magiciens

Nancy and the magicians


Kitty och ficktjuven

Nancy and the pickpocket


Detektiv Nancy Drew og tryllesvindelen

Nancy and the magic hoax


Neiti etsivä ja kolminkertainen konnuus

Nancy and the triple villainery


Il triplice inganno

The triple swindle

Spanish (Argentine ed.)

El triple engaño

The triple trick

Spanish (Mexican ed.)

Triple engaño

Triple trick


A szemfényvesztök


Sindikat tukang sulap

Syndicate of the magician


The Triple Hoax, artwork by Ruth Sanderson © 1979 by Simon & Schuster, New York. The Triple Hoax, artwork by Hector Garrido © 1986 by Simon & Schuster, New York. The Triple Hoax, artwork by Linda Thomas © 1989 by Simon & Schuster, New York. The Triple Hoax, artwork by Peter Archer © 1980 by Angus & Robertson, Sydney. The Triple Hoax, artwork unattributed © 1986 by Fontana Paperbacks, London. Il triplice inganno, artwork by Marco Rostagno © 1981 by Arnoldo Mondadori Editore SpA, Milan. Alice et les magiciens, artwork by Philippe Daure © 1987 by Hachette, Paris. Detektiv Nancy Drew og tryllesvindelen, artwork unattributed © by Forlagshuset A/S, Oslo. Kitty och ficktjuven, artwork by Linda Thomas © 1989 by Simon & Schuster, New York. Kitty och ficktjuven, artwork by Ulla Urkio © by Wahlströms, Stockholm. A szemfényvesztök, artwork by Linda Thomas © 1989 by Simon & Schuster, New York. El triple engaño, artwork by Ruth Sanderson © 1979 by Simon & Schuster, New York. Image courtesy of Linda Burns. Triple engaño, artwork unattributed © 1993 by Fernández Editores, Mexico City. Neiti Etsivä ja kolminkertainen konnuus, artwork unattributed © 1982 by Tammi, Helsinki. Neiti Etsivä ja kolminkertainen konnuus, artwork by Kaarina Hanström © by Tammi, Helsinki. black and white internal by Ruth Sanderson © 1979 by Simon & Schuster, New York.


© 2001, 2002, 2005 by Lea Shangraw Fox