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The Clue of the Black Keys

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Subject: The Mystery at the Ski Jump, The Secret of the Wooden Lady, Nancy Drew, Carolyn Keene, Nancy Drew books
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The Clue of the Black Keys

The Clue of the Black Keys
Author Carolyn Keene
Country United States
Language English
Series Nancy Drew stories
Genre Detective, Mystery novel
Publisher Grosset & Dunlap
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Preceded by Nancy Drew: The Secret of the Wooden Lady
Followed by Nancy Drew: The Mystery at the Ski Jump

The Clue of the Black Keys is the twenty-eighth volume in the Nancy Drew mystery series. It was first published in 1951 under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene. The actual authors were ghostwriters Wilhelmina Rankin and Harriet Stratemeyer Adams.

Plot summary

Prof. Terry Scott went to River Heights to ask the help of Carson Drew to help him to find Dr. Joshua Pitt. Mr. Drew thought that the case was more of a mystery, so he referred him to Nancy Drew, his daughter who loves detective work. Terry Scott and Dr. Joshua Pitt, together with their teammates, Dr. Anderson and Dr. Graham, found the clue to the treasure during their expedition in Mexico, a cipher carved in a stone tablet and three black keys. Before the professors had time to translate the cipher, the tablet disappeared together with Dr. Pitt, leaving only the bottom half of one of the keys. Terry suspected the Tinos because they vanished when the cipher stone and Dr. Pitt disappeared.

Someone tried to steal the half-key. Sergeant Malloy helped them identify the thief, Juarez Tino, but not until after he fled for Florida.

Terry gave the half-key to Nancy and that night a burglar broke into the Drews' house. A thief stole Terry's things and documents from the hotel room. Nancy asked her father's advice, and he suggests finding the other expedition members. Nancy and George meet with Dr. Graham, and he says the four expedition members trust one another. Ned Nickerson asks Nancy to drive his fraternity brother in Emerson College, Prof. Terence Scott, to his lecture. Bess and George trail Mr. Porterly, and overhear his telephone conversation planning harm to Nancy.

Dr. Anderson tells Nancy that Mr. Juarez Tino telephoned to say that he'd reveal where the cipher and Doctor Pitt are for a price. After Terry Scott's lecture, Mrs. Lillian Wagnell asked him to decipher her sea captain grandfather's old diary. Nancy doubts Mrs. Wagnell's intent, and Mrs. Prescott mentions that Mrs. Wagnell doesn't have a sea captain grandfather.

Mrs. Wagnell doesn’t want Terry to borrow the diary so Nancy suggests he take the important pages. Carson Drew received a letter from Caswell P. Breed in Baltimore, a relative of Dr. Pitt. The Drews went to Baltimore but Mr. Breed sent no letter. They guess that someone has lured them out of River Heights for some nefarious purpose.When Nancy came home she can’t contact Terry so she went to the Wagnells' house, only to find Terry imprisoned at their house. Terry discovered that the Wagnells and Porters were related to the stuepeds.

After those things happened, Terry went to Mexico and Nancy decided to join the educational trip of Dr. Anderson in the Florida Keys. A day before Nancy went to Florida, Juarez searched their house for the half-key, but couldn't find it.

When Nancy got to Florida she asked Dr. Anderson to work on a special assignment with Fran Oakes: to look for the Black Keys amongst the Florida Keys. Fran Oakes introduces Nancy to Jack Walker, her cousin. They went to Two Line Parker who knows about the Florida Keys history. The fisherman told her about the Black Falcon.

During their rest, Nancy found the burned letters in Porterlys’ place. There was an unburned part of letter that talked about her, and she concluded that the Porterlys had an evil plan for her.

Nancy and Dr. Anderson saw Juarez Tino in a speedboat while they were searching the Florida Keys looking for where the Black Falcon sunk. They tried to follow him but he lost them. Nancy decides to return there the next day. Dr. Anderson won’t allow her to go alone, but Terry joins her.

Nancy, Terry, Fran and Jack go to find the Black Falcon. They studied the Florida Keys and were found a hidden island where they found a hidden hut, where Dr Pitt was imprisoned. Jack and Fran called the police. Nancy and Terry stayed with Dr. Pitt until Mr. and Mrs. Juarez Tino, together with the Wagnells and Porterlys, arrived. They were able to get the half-key from Nancy. They asked Dr. Pitt to reveal the remaining clue and tell him that if he doesn't tell, something might happen to Nancy. He said that they can find the treasure in Mexico, in a little-known jungle region. They bring Dr. Pitt to Mexico and leave Nancy to their wives. The police arrived in time to free Nancy and Terry. They told Dr. Anderson that they must go to Mexico to follow the villain and rescue Dr. Pitt. They went to Mexico and captured the thieves. Dr. Pitt thought that they wouldn't be able to see the treasure, but Nancy helped them find it. The treasure belongs to Mexico and not to any of them.


Nancy Drew- An 18-year-old girl that does the sleuthing in The Clue of the Black Keys.

Carson Drew- a lawyer, and Nancy Drew's father.

Terence Scott- also known as “Terry”. Young Archeology Professor of Keystone University that joined the exploring expedition in Mexico.

Dr.Pitt- One of the four members of the exploring team in Mexico

Dr. Graham- one of the members that were exploring in Mexico

Dr. Anderson- A Professor in Geology at Clifton Institute that also joined the exploring expedition in Mexico

Mr. & Mrs. Juarez Tino- A Mexican couple posing as scientists who witness the excavation of the cipher stone.

Mr. Wil Porterly- the Tino's helpers, they help torture Terry and Nancy.

Mrs. Irene Porterly- Wife of Wil Porterly and also known as Irene Webster, sister of Mrs. Lillian Wagnell

Mr. Earl Wagnell- also helped the Tinos to threatened Nancy and Terry

Mrs. Lillian Wagnell- wife of Mr. Earl Wagnell, she was formerly Lillian Webster. She asked Terry to decipher or translate the old diary for her. (diary was a fake)

Ned Nickerson- a very supportive boyfriend of Nancy Drew.

Bess Marvin- friend of Nancy Drew, Cousin of George Fayne

George Fayne- friend of Nancy Drew, Cousin of Bess Marvin.

Mrs. Hannah Gruen- The Drew’s housekeeper.

Mrs. Presscotts- knows the family history of every family in River Heights. She helped Nancy and Terry to trace the family of Wagnell

Caswell P. Breed- man in Baltimore who lured the Drews away from River Heights

Sergeant Malloy- police officer at the River Heights that helps Nancy and Terry

Officer Riley- an officer at the River Heights that help Nancy and Terry to find the Wagnells

Frances Oakes- also known as Fran. She is a student of Dr. Anderson.

Marilyn Maury- a student of Dr. Anderson and friend of Frances Oakes who joins the educational trip in Florida.

Grace James- a student of Dr. Anderson and friend of Frances Oakes who joins the educational trip in Florida.

Jack Walker- cousin of Frances Oakes in Florida that owned a motorboat, which they use for searching in Keys.

Mrs. Young- owner of rest house in Florida where Nancy and friends stayed.

Two line Parker- a fisherman that knows about the narrow channels of Florida Keys and some of its story and treasure.

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