Revised 1974 book cover art.

The Ringmaster's Secret is the thirty-first volume in the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories series.

Plot summary


Nancy's Aunt Eloise, aware of her niece's current interest in learning horseback riding stunts, sends her a second-hand golden bracelet bearing charms of horses in all five gaits; a sixth charm is missing. Coincidentally, the Sims Circus, former employer of Nancy's equestrian instructor, is coming to town. Nancy investigates the link between the unhappy circus star, young aerialist, Lolita, and her bracelet. Lolita is the adopted daughter of the acting manager, Ringmaster Kroon, and his wife. Pietro, the young, handsome clown, tells Nancy Lolita has the missing charm from her bracelet. Nancy's regular appearances at the circus, and her detective reputation brings the ire of Kroon. When a bareback rider is injured, Nancy is asked to join the show as her replacement. Bess Marvin stands in at an interview with Kroon, and agrees to audition later, while Nancy lightens her hair and cuts it to resemble her friend. Nancy's travels with the circus come to an abrupt end when she and George are kidnapped and left aboard the car of a freight train. After their escape, Nancy continues following up on clues, including a mysterious woman in England linked to both the bracelet and Lolita! In the climax of the story, Nancy is rescued from Ned when Kroon tries to imprison her in the lion's cage, and all is revealed


The story is a shortened and abridged version of the original, lacking detail in the subplots, and quickening the pace. Nancy uses a wig to resemble Bess, as well, since her hair is titan in the revision. The story is basically a simplified version of the original.


  • As of this book, Harriet Adams replaces Mildred A. Wirt and writes the rest of the volumes in the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories series.
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