Nancy Drew #78

The Phantom of Venice

The Phantom of Venice was the last title produced under the Wanderer Books division. It was released in 1985, and it would be two years before another "classic" story would be published. During this hiatus, Simon & Schuster introduced the "Nancy Drew Files" series (in August 1986), and the elements of romance and international intrigue on which this secondary series relied so heavily have already been introduced in #78 The Phantom of Venice and also #77 The Bluebeard Room. It is clear that the editors were tinkering with Nancy's image at this time in order to try and reach the profitable young adult romance market. They wisely decided to produce the two concurrent series, one with the more straight-forward mystery plots, and the Files involving hormones and dead bodies.

In The Phantom of Venice, Nancy returns to Venice, which she recently visited in #65 Mystery of the Winged Lion. There are some very strange similarities between the two stories, most notably the kidnapping of the master glass-blower at a Murano factory as one of the central mysteries. Both books also mention the name Dandolo - in Winged Lion, it is the surname of the duchess Nancy is helping, and in Phantom, it is the name of the pensione where Tara stays. The statue of the Winged Lion on St. Mark's Square is mentioned prominently in Phantom as well.

While sight-seeing in Venice, Nancy visits St. Mark's Basilica (page 105) and decides "at first sight" that it is the most gorgeous church she'd ever seen. Guess she doesn't remember when she saw it before in Winged Lion, that time when she was bound and gagged and held at the basilica with Bess and George. That's not usually the kind of thing you'd think she would forget!

Basic Plot: Nancy meets Tara on the plane and hears the story of how Rolf has drowned in a Venetian canal after being shot in his gondola from a fondamenta. Carson is in Venice helping his client Crystalia Glass Company negotiate to buy the Falcone glassworks. Negotiations hit a snag when Pietro, the master glassblower, is kidnapped. Click here for a chapter-by-chapter summary of the action.

In 2008, Her Interactive released The Phantom of Venice as their 18th computer game featuring Nancy Drew.


Venice and Murano, Italy

Recurring Characters

Carson Drew


  • Tara Egan - girl about Nancy's age
  • Signora Dandolo - pensione owner
  • Zorzi - her 10-year old son
  • Rolf Egan - Tara's father; believed to have been killed
  • Angela Spinelli - Egan's lady friend
  • Marchese Francesco del Falcone - wealthy Venetian; owner of Vetreria del Falcone glassworks on Murano
  • Pietro Rinaldi - master glassblower
  • Domenic - Falcone's cadaverous butler who wears an eyepatch
  • Eufemia - Falcone maid
  • Don Madison - representative from Crystalia Glass, in training as glassblower
  • Ezio and Isabella Gatti - exporters
  • S Oliver Joyce - gun-toting collector and dealer in objets d'art
  • mustachioed costumer
  • Commandante Manin - Venice police chief
  • Coral - Don's fiancee in Ohio
  • Kevin - guest at ball in pirate costume
  • Hans Aacht - scar-faced South African friend of Egan's, illegal diamond buyer


The Diamante network (has ties to the Mafia):

  • Katrina van Holst - Dutch photo-journalist (ringleader)
  • Signor Rubini - plant manager at Vetreria
  • unnamed gunman
  • Giovanni "Gianni" Spinelli - Angela's vain and good-looking brother

Motivation: Diamante is a gang which considers diamond smuggling their own personal domain - trying to retrieve large uncut diamond that Hans slipped past the cartel.


Don and Nancy stake out the glassworks after setting a trap for the smugglers. Pietro comes to find the diamond, which has been hidden in a glass paperweight; he is followed by Katrina, Signor Rubini and their gunman. These three are overpowered, but then Gianni tries to steal the paperweight (he had been recruited by the Diamante network but got greedy and tried to steal the gem for himself). Nancy catches him off guard and he is captured as well. Tara and Rolf are reunited (Domenic had been hiding Rolf in the dungeon of the Palazzo at Pietro's request).

Nancy's Mis-adventures

  • pushed from vaporetto quay, breaks heel
  • room ransacked
  • menacing hooded figure in her room (twice)
  • sexually harrassed by Gianni

Key clues

apron with "break an egg to make an omelet" design and motto

millefiori paperweight

angel's wing shell

Nancy's outfits

jeans & cotton top

knit top and denim skirt

Oriental dancing girl (Arabian Nights) costume

Nancy's talents

a keen artistic eye

Meaning of the title

Rolf is "haunting" Tara in a phantom disguise in an attempt to let her know that she is alive and well; setting of the mystery is in Venice

items of interest

Nancy drinks wine during her dinner with Don

Nancy views a Titian painting at the Ca d'Oro; she wanted especialy to see it because of her hair color

A reference to previous adventure #77 The Bluebeard Room is made on page 13

Wanderer "Checkerboard" cover by Hector Garrido: page 92 - Nancy is awakened by screaming to find a hooded figure with a hideous skull face reaching for Tara. Nancy is appropriately in jammies, but she is not in bed, and the figure is reaching for her instead of Tara.

Wanderer "Checkerboard" cover by Bob Berran: probably supposed to be the same scene as the Garrido cover, only this time the figure's face is showing, and Nancy is not in her nightwear. Tara is still not pictured.

Minstrel cover by Aleta Jenks: page 141 - Nancy and Don are on their way to stake out the glassworks in Murano - they travel by motorboat in the evening, but they are not being pursued by anyone.

Hachette (France) Format "M" cover by Martine Laurent: general scene of brunette (?!?!) Eurotrash Nancy and Venetian skyline; inset figure represents the Marchese's masquerade ball

Armada (UK) Format "B" and "C" cover by unattributed artist: page 130 - during the figure's second visit, Nancy is awakened by Tara's screams - this time there is no mention make of the skull face. Nancy is in bed in her nightgown, and the room is sumptuously appointed as befits the guest room in a Palazzo.

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

Wahlströms (Swedish) cover: utilizes Garrido artwork (backwards)

Tammi (Finnish) cover by unknown artist: same scene as UK covers above.

Tammi (Finnish) cover by Pentti Kareinen: generalized (unconnected) scene of mysterious woman on boat in Venetian canal; male figure in the foreground is probably Gianni as he looks generally studly, and I prefer to think that the girl is Tara (since Nancy is not the clingy type)

malay russian
Fargoes (Malay) cover by Amy: the girls are probably Nancy and Tara; however, there is never any mention of a painting with either girl wearing The Prize as a necklace. Russian cover by unattributed artist: hooded figure and generic Venetian masks from the ball

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

Garrido/W2/two-toned magenta/3.50,pic,+,49745-6
bl/pwt/bl/tp/cp/tc/bl/pwt/bl//ND#57-78 ao of/HB#59-85 ao of/NQH#1/bl

Garrido/W2/two-toned magenta/3.50,pic,+,49745-6
bl/pwt/bl/tp/cp/tc/bl/pwt/bl//ND#57-78 ao of/NDF#1/NDF#2-3/bl

1st Minstrel
Garrido/M1/two-toned magenta/3.50,pic,+,49745-6
bl/pwt/bl/tp/cp/tc/bl/pwt/bl//ND#57-79 ao of/HB#59-86 ao of/NDF#1-14 of/bl

1st Minstrel (new ISBN)
Berran/M1/plum, 350/pic,66230-9
bl UPC/exc/ND#57-83/tp/cp+/tc/bl/pwt/bl//bl/LCA (2) of/ND#57-83 ao of/bl

2nd Minstrel
Jenks/M1/lemon yellow, 350/pic, 73422-9
BF#1-13/exc/ND#57-99/tp/cp+/tc/bl/pwt/bl//ND#57-99, g1 of/HB#59-106, g of/NewBT ad



Foreign Title

Title's translation


Le fantôme de Venise

The Phantom of Venice


Kitty och den fasansfulla skepnaden

Nancy and the terrible figure


Detektiv Nancy Drew og forelsker seg

Nancy falls in love


Neiti etsivä ja Venetsian kummitus

Nancy and the haunting in Venice


Misteri peniup kaca

Mystery of the glass blower

Призрак в Венеции
Spectre in Venise

The Phantom of Venice, artwork by Hector Garrido © 1985 by Simon & Schuster, New York.
The Phantom of Venice, artwork by Bob Berran © 1988 by Simon & Schuster, New York.
The Phantom of Venice, artwork by Aleta Jenks © by Simon & Schuster, New York.
Le fantôme de Venise, artwork by Martine Laurent © 1988 by Hachette, Paris.
The Phantom of Venice, artwork unattributed © 1987 by Fontana Paperbacks, London.
Detektiv Nancy Drew og forelsker seg, artwork unattributed © 1987 by Fontana Paperbacks, London.
Kitty och den fasansfulla skepnaden, , artwork by Hector Garrido © 1985 by Simon & Schuster, New York.
Neiti Etsivä ja Venetsian kummitus, artwork unattributed © by Tammi, Helsinki.
Neiti Etsivä ja Venetsian kummitus, artwork by Pentti Kareinen © 1997 by Tammi, Helsinki.
Misteri peniup kaca, artwork by Amy © 2003 by Penerbitan Fargoes, Kuala Lumpur.
Призрак в Венеции, artwork unattributed © 1995 by Sovershenno Sekretno, Moscow.

© 2001, 2002, 2003, 2008, 2016 Lea Shangraw Fox