Original 1932 book cover art.

The Clue in the Diary is the seventh volume in the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories series.

Plot summary


Nancy and her friends Bess and George, on their way home from a carnival, discuss a financially struggling and have trouble deciding if they should by candy Swedish immigrant, Mrs. Swenson, and her daughter, whom the girls have just helped to enjoy the carnival attractions by being their hosts for the evening.

As they are driving, a luxurious roadside estate bursts into flames. The girls park the car and make sure that no one is trapped inside. In doing so, Nancy sees someone fleeing the property, and discovers an anonymous Swedish diary on the ground. She picks up this clue, and as firefighters and gawkers arrive on the scene, she notices an attractive young man moving her car away from the flying embers. At first suspicious of Ned Nickerson, Nancy warms to him when he helps her out of a jam. Ned proves to be a good friend, and is a perennial admirer of Nancy's from then on. Meanwhile, Mrs. Swenson's husband is missing, and she identifies his diary as the one picked up at the fire. To top it all off, the owner of the burned house, Felix Raybolt, is missing, and his wife claims Joe Swenson has murdered her husband. Raybolt, it turns out, swindles inventors like Swenson out of patents and copyrights on their inventions and used an invention to start the fire.

Revised 1962 book cover art.


This version tells essentially the same story, eliminating some detail and subplots, downplaying Nancy's initial response to Ned, eliminating a country club dance not essential to the plot, and adding a new subplot involving mail fraud. Adult series collectors have critiqued the addition of a mail fraud subplot, taking place over only two chapters; its appearance does not advance the story and seems to serve as filler material for sections of descriptive but non-essential action deleted in the new edit. Nancy struggles to decipher the diary and find the two missing men, aided by her best friends, and a new friend, the attentive Ned Nickerson.


The original edition featured an immaculately dressed Nancy retrieving the title object and four illustrations by R.H. Tandy; he updated his own

2014 Special Edition Collectible Cover

frontispiece to a pen and ink drawing for the 1943 imprint. The cover art for this volume has not changed since 1950, when the revision art was introduced by Bill Gillies, showing a very animated Nancy running after a suspect with the diary falling from her hand. The 1962 revision added internal illustrations, featuring line drawings of an immaculately dressed Nancy and chums sleuthing, and a frontispiece of Nancy in jeans spying on ruins at night. All of these drawings are present through editions published in 2009.


  • Ned Nickerson is introduced in this volume.
  • This is the last book that Mildred A. Wirt wrote for the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories series before returning to write volumes eleven through thirty.