The Secret at Shadow Ranch

Revised 1965 book cover art.

House name Carolyn Keene
Ghostwriter Mildred Wirt (original)
Grace Grote (revised)
Outline Harriet Otis Smith (original)
Grace Grote (revised)
Cover artist Russell H. Tandy (1931)
Bill Gillies (1950)
Rudy Nappi (1965)
Publication information
Publisher Grosset & Dunlap
Producer Stratemeyer Syndicate
Publication date 1931 (original)
1965 (revised)
Media type Book (hardcover)
PC game
Pages 180
Series Nancy Drew Mystery Stories
Preceded by The Mystery at Lilac Inn
Followed by The Secret of Red Gate Farm

Original 1931 book cover art.


The 2014 Special Edition Collectible Cover

The Secret at Shadow Ranch (retitled The Secret of Shadow Ranch in 1965) is the fifth volume in the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories series. In it, Nancy, Bess, and George vacation at a ranch in Arizona.

This is one of eight titles that had a plot change in the revision process.

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.


For the revision, the title changed to The Secret of Shadow Ranch.

The revision keeps the mystery of the disappearance of Alice Regor's father, and still takes place at Shadow Ranch in Arizona. Now, Nancy is faced with two other mysteries: Why is a mysterious phantom horse haunting the ranch causing accidents; and what happened to the treasure promised by famous Old West outlaw Dirk Valentine, bequeathed to the sweetheart who was one of the ranch's original residents?

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.

Computer game adaption

Her Interactive based their tenth computer game in the Nancy Drew Adventure Game series off The Secret of Shadow Ranch. The game was released in July 2004. It closely follows the plot of the revised book, except that Bess and George are experiencing flight issues (a subplot), and the Rawleys are in the hospital after an incident.

Her Interactive released a mobile version of the game titled Shadow Ranch, which was released in February 2011. 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 (some from the computer game). It was released for iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. It was intended to debut a new subseries titled Nancy Drew Mobile Mysteries. However, other planned games under the banner were shelved, and Shadow Ranch was discontinued in 2015.


Russell H. Tandy illustrated the original dust jacket and internal illustrations, and the frontispiece. Like other Nancy Drew books, the illustrations were later removed, and Tandy converted the frontispiece to ink and pen drawing during World War II.

In 1950, Bill Gillies revised the cover art, which now featured Nancy on a rearing horse. Rudy Nappi did the new cover art for the revision in 1965, which featured Nancy on the horse, staring at the phantom horse.


  • Bess Marvin and George Fayne are introduced in this volume.
  • This is the first Nancy Drew book plotted after the death of its creator, Edward Stratemeyer.
  • In the revised book, Ned Nickerson is mentioned in passing as being in Europe. However, Ned is not formally introduced to Nancy until two books later (as in the original series).