Nancy Drew #58

The Flying Saucer Mystery

The Flying Saucer Mystery can easily be considered the most bizarre story ever written for the Nancy Drew series. It was the last text written entirely by Harriet Adams.

Basic Plot: Nancy is asked to investigate some UFO sightings. She and Ned follow the saucer to Dismal Swamp, where they have hallucinations and retrieve soil polluted by a concentrated acid. Subplot - Nancy meets Old Joe, who asks her to find his father's hidden wallet, containing family secrets.  Click here from a chapter by chapter synopsis of the story.

Setting

Shawniegunk Forest (fictional place)

Recurring Characters

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

Characters

  • Jan & Hal Drake - guides
  • Joseph "Old Joe" Austin - unkempt naturalist, about age 70
  • Trixie - Joe's wonder dog
  • Shoso - tall Indian that lives in the forest
  • Dr. Dogle - vet
  • scientists called in to investigate the saucer: Dr. Caffrey (tests Nancy and Ned for radioactivity), Professor Hendricks (botanist), Dr. Halpern (chemist) one other doctor, 2 scientists, one zoologist, 2 chemists and 2 aerospace experts, one of which is named Dr. York
  • Col. Aken - US Air Force
  • Horses: Susan B, Goalpost

Culprits

None

Resolution

The saucer returns to and crashes into the swamp. It is being followed by the USAF's updated model saucer, the Optimum. Conveniently, the explanations of all the odd things associated with the saucer cannot be explained to the teens as they are "classified government secrets." Shoso is discovered to be Joe's long lost brother.

Nancy's Mis-adventures

  • harassed by a wildcat
  • threatened by Shoso with a rock
  • blacks out and hallucinates about the flying saucer
  • her horse sunfishes and goes out of control

Meaning of the title

Nancy is searching for the secrets of the mysterious flying saucer

reward

a ride on a top secret space vehicle (Nancy and her friends are the first civilians ever allowed on board)

items of interest

Nancy is called upon for another mystery, but cannot help as she is already involved, so she refers the lady to the Dana Girls.

Ned tries to communicate with the aliens using mathematical signals, a la Close Encounters

There is an absence of "bad guys" in this story

George and Burt are mushroom experts

THE COVERS

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

Wanderer "Arch" cover by Ruth Sanderson: page 73 - Nancy and Ned arrive at Dismal Swamp and find the flying saucer; however, it has crash landed and is quiet and dark. N&N should be wearing backpacks and rain gear as it is storming.

Wanderer "Checkerboard" cover by Bob Berran: page 71 - probably the second visit of the flying saucer, since there is no cookout. Visit is heralded by winds and lights; also, it should be raining heavily.

Minstrel cover by Linda Thomas and Fernández (Mexican) cover by copyist - probably same as Berran above. Mexican cover is a carefully redrawn copy of the original Thomas cover.

Angus & Robertson and Armada (UK) Format "B" cover by Peter Archer: page 78 - Nancy dreams that she and Ned have entered the flying saucer, where the walls are lined with flashing lights and many kinds of buttons, gadgets and tools. Scene correctly shows that rain gear has mysteriously disappeared.

French

Armada (UK) Format "C" cover by unknown artist: basically same scene as Sanderson above, except Ned is missing.

Hachette (France) Format "J" and "L" cover by Jean Sidobre: pages 94-95 - Nancy's horse sunfishes as the contaminated soil from the swamp burns her flank.

Swedish
Norwegian
Wahlströms (Sweden) cover by Ulla Urkio: same scene as Sanderson above, except Nancy is off the horse and Ned is out of the scene.

Forlagshuset (Norwegian) cover by unknown artist: same scene as Sanderson above.

Vergara Finnish

Vergara (Argentine) cover by Ruth Sanderson (see above)

Tammi (Finnish) cover by Ruth Sanderson (see above)

Malay
Hebrew
Fargoes (Malay) cover by unattributed artist.  Nancy, Bess and George with the saucer hovering over their heads (title not confirmed, but really, what else could it be?)
Mizrahi (Israeli) edition cover by unattributed artist - same scene as Sanderson above.
Indo
Indira (Indonesian) cover by Ruth Sanderson (see above)

THE PRINTINGS

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:  1980
author: Harriet Adams
editor: Nancy Axelrad

1st
Sanderson/W1/light aqua on green/1.95, ND57,+,95601-9
bl/pwt/bl/tp+/cp/tc/bl//Fan ad (wb)/ND#57,HB#59-62, 7 Stories/bl/bl

2nd
Sanderson/W1/light aqua on green/1.95, ND57,+,95601-9
bl/pwt/bl/tp+/cp/tc/bl//Fan ad (wb)/ND#57,HB#59-62, 7 Stories/bl/bl

3rd
Sanderson/W1/light aqua on green/1.95, ND57,+,95601-9
bl/pwt/bl/tp+/cp/tc/bl//Fan ad (wb)/ HB#59-66, ND57-60, 7 Stories/bl/bl

4th
Sanderson/W1/light aqua on green/2.50,95601-9, +
bl/pwt/bl/tp+/cp/tc/bl//Fan ad (wb)/ND#57-60, LC#1-4/bl/bl

5th
Sanderson/W1/light aqua on green/2.75,95601-9, +
bl/pwt/bl/tp+/cp/tc/bl//Fan ad (wb)/ND#57-69, LC#1-7/bl/bl

6th
Sanderson/W1/light aqua on green/2.95,95601-9, +
bl/pwt/bl/tp+/cp/tc/bl//Fan ad/ND#57-74 ao of/bl/bl

7th
Sanderson/W1/light aqua on green/3.50, 95601-9, +
bl/pwt/bl/tp+/cp (10-4, 10-7 pbk)/tc/bl//ND#57-78 ao of/HB#59-85 ao of/NQH#1/bl

8th
Sanderson/W1/light aqua on green/3.50,95601-9, +
bl/pwt/bl/tp+/cp (10-4, 10-8 pb)/tc/bl//ND#57-78 ao of/NDCF#1/NDCF#2-3/bl

1st Minstrel
Berran/M1/blue, 350/pic, 65796-8
bl UPC/exc/ND#57-81/tp/cp/tc/bl/pwt/bl//bl/ND#57-81 ao of/HB#59-88 ao of/Min (14)/Min (13) of/bl/bl/bl

2nd Minstrel
Thomas/M1/teal, 350/pic, 72320-0
BF#1-10/exc/ND#57-96/tp/cp/tc/bl/pwt/bl//ND#57-95, g1 of/HB#59-102, g of/NewBT#1-19 of/LCA (12) of/BF#1-9 of/BWa (7) of/SGr (4) of/NewBT ad

3rd Minstrel
Thomas/M1/teal, 399/pic, 72320-0
TSw#1-13, UT (2)/exc/ND#57-113/tp/cp/tc/bl/pwt/bl//ND#57-113, g1 of/HB#59-120, g of/NewBT#1-30 of/BF#1-16 of/Hi5 (10)/BWa (10) of/ragz (4) of/NewBT ad

4th Minstrel
Thomas/M1/teal/pic, 3.99, 72320-0
HB ad/exc/ND#57-130/tp/cp/tc/bl/pwt/bl//Spkvle#1-7 of/FSt#1-6 of/Nick#1-6/ND (49) 128 of/HB (55) 137 of/bl/bl/AM (6)

Scholastic
Sanderson/Scholastic/key lime green/0-590-32414-4
bl/pwt/bl/tp+/cp(12-1,1-6/8)/tc/bl//blx3/bl

FOREIGN TITLES

Language

Foreign Title

Title's translation

French

Alice et la soucoupe volante

Nancy and the flying saucer

Swedish

Kitty och det flygande tefatet

Nancy and the flying saucer

Norwegian

Detektiv Nancy Drew og den flyvende tallerken

Nancy and the flying saucer

Finnish

Neiti etsivä ja lentävän lautasen arvoitus

Nancy and the puzzle of the flying saucer

Spanish (Argentine ed.)

El misterio del platillo volador

The mystery of the flying saucer

Spanish (Mexican ed.)

El misterio del platillo volador

The mystery of the flying saucer

Malay
Misteri Piring Terbang
The flying saucer mystery (unconfirmed)
Indonesian
Misteri Piring Terbang
Mystery flying saucer
Hebrew


The Flying Saucer Mystery, artwork by Ruth Sanderson © 1980 by Simon & Schuster, New York.
The Flying Saucer Mystery, artwork by Bob Berran © 1988 by Simon & Schuster, New York.
The Flying Saucer Mystery, artwork by Linda Thomas © 1990 by Simon & Schuster, New York.
The Flying Saucer Mystery, artwork by Peter Archer © 1980 by Angus & Robertson, Sydney.
The Flying Saucer Mystery, artwork unattributed © 1986 by Fontana Paperbacks, London.
El misterio del platillo volador, artwork unattributed © 1993 by Fernández Editores, Mexico City.
Alice at la soucoupe volante, artwork by Jean Sidobre © 1983 by Hachette, Paris.
Detektiv Nancy Drew og flyvende tallerken, artwork unattributed © Forlagshuset A/S, Oslo.
Kitty och det flygande tefatet, artwork by Ulla Urkio © 1981 by B. Wahlströms Bokförlag, Stockholm.
Neiti Etsivä ja lentävän lautasan arvoitus, artwork by Ruth Sanderson © 1980 by Simon & Schuster, New York.

El misterio del platillo volador, artwork by Ruth Sanderson © 1980 by Simon & Schuster, New York.
Misteri Piring Terbang, artwork unattributed © 2001 by Fargoes, Kuala Lumpur.
Misteri Piring Terbang, artwork by Ruth Sanderson © 1980 by Simon & Schuster, New York.

 

© 2001, 2002, 2016 Lea Shangraw Fox