Original 1933 book cover art.


Revised 1968 book cover art.

The Sign of the Twisted Candles is the ninth volume of the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories series.

Plot summary

In the course of solving the mystery of an old man's disappearing fortune, Nancy both starts and ends a family feud and reveals the identity of an orphan of unknown parentage. The second of three novels by ghostwriter Walter Karig, this story focuses on Nancy's encounter with a 100-year-old man at "The Sign of the Twisted Candles," a roadside inn and restaurant. Nancy, Bess and George take afternoon tea there while waiting out a storm; Nancy's roadster was blocked by a fallen tree. They encounter Asa Sidney, celebrating his 100th birthday, and the pathetic maid/waitress, Carol Wipple, mistreated by her adoptive parents, Frank and Emma Jemmit.

Nancy discovers that Mr. Sidney is an elderly relative of Bess and George, and her willingness to communicate with him launches a family feud upon his death a few days later, and leaves her chumless, as the cousins refuse to associate with Nancy. Carol is named as the major benefactress, and Nancy must prove that Frank and Emma Jemmit have misappropriated property. Relatives of Mr. Sidney and his wife from the Sidney and Boonton families fight over the money. Nancy also must discover why Asa was interested in the young woman.

While investigating, Nancy is reunited with her friends, and later, in the climax, is nearly killed when she is pushed while climbing a ladder against a tower window (illustrated as internal art in the original 1933 edition; this illustration and two others were dropped in 1936). Carol is discovered to be the great-niece of Asa Sidney, and thus owns the rights to a number of inventions awaiting patent from Sidney, in addition to securities. The family feud is resolved due to Nancy's discoveries.


The original R.H. Tandy dust jacket shows Nancy meeting with Mr. Sidney, in her simple summer dress and hat. Bill Gillies' 1950 cover art shows Nancy as a busty sweater girl, watching from a window as Frank Jemitt digs a hole outside. A more simply executed version of this image was used for half of the endpaper used from 1953 to 1959 (known as Digger endpaper). The endpapers show the digging man, while Nancy (in art adapted from The Secret of Red Gate Farm) hides behind a tree and watches. The 1968 cover art shows a flip-haired Nancy near a candle with Asa glowering in the background. This art was also used as a generic cover stock, in red, blue and pink, for library binding or rebound library copies of all titles in the series.


  • Due to Walter Karig passing away in 1956, this book is in the public domain in Canada, but is still under copyright in the U.S. until 2028.