Original 1931 book cover art.


Revised 1965 book cover art.


The 2014 Special Edition Collectible Cover

The Secret at Shadow Ranch (retitled The Secret of Shadow Ranch for the 1965 revision) is the fifth volume in the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories series.

Plot summary


This story serves as an introduction to Nancy's friends, Elizabeth "Bess" Marvin and George Fayne, cousins who are as different from each other as night and day. They, along with another of their cousins, Alice Regor, travel with Nancy to Arizona, where the cousins' aunt attempts to keep up a ranch she received as payment of a debt. Nancy reunites Alice with her long-lost artist father, who is suffering from amnesia. She also uncovers the mystery behind why an old mountain woman is guardian of a beautiful young girl, all the while enjoying mountain life, including horseback riding, a flash flood, being lost in the mountains overnight, and a dangerous mountain lion.


The story takes place in Arizona, and still features Alice Regor's subplot, but otherwise bears little in common to the original story. The title changed to The Secret of Shadow Ranch, Nancy travels with her friends Bess and George to Arizona, and while the mystery of Alice Regor's father was kept for the revision, Nancy also tries to solve two other mysteries: Why is a phantom horse haunting the ranch, and what happened to the treasure promised by Dirk Valentine, legendary Old West outlaw, to his estranged sweetheart, one of the original residents of the ranch? This book is filled with action and local color, including a square dance, and serves as something of a travelogue. It also introduces a theme common in Nancy Drew books after 1950, an ill-fated romance from another historical era. The girls find diversion with attractive young men at the ranch and in the community, and are already skilled with horses and western life.


Russell H. Tandy illustrated the original dust jacket and internal illustrations, and the frontispiece. In 1950, Bill Gillies revised the cover art, which featured Nancy on a rearing horse. The art was revised for the new story in 1965, this time by Rudy Nappi, and featuring the phantom horse.

Nancy Drew Mobile Mysteries: Shadow Ranch

Sometime in early 2011, interactive entertainment developer, Her Interactive, released an app called Shadow Ranch under their new subseries of Nancy Drew games entitled Mobile Mysteries. Shadow Ranch is a story-based gamebook app with the book aspect of it being the actual text of the Shadow Ranch novel and the game aspect of it has minigames within the story and shows the voices and screenshots of characters and locations from the actual The Secret of Shadow Ranch video game. Shadow Ranch is available only for the iPad iPhone, and iPod Touch, priced at $4.99 for the iPad and $1.99 for the iPhone and iPod Touch.


  • Bess Marvin and George Fayne are introduced in this volume.
  • Though Ned Nickerson is mentioned in passing in this book as being in Europe, Nancy doesn't actually meet Ned until two books later. This mistake was added when the books were revised.

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