Author Carolyn Keene
Series: Nancy Drew Mystery #6
Publisher Grosset and Dunlap
Publication Date August 1, 1974
When Bess Marvin purchased an expensive bottle of Oriental perfume, she never expected to stumble into a mystery. Now Bess, Nancy, George, and their new friend Jo are out to unravel the secrets of a mysterious conspiracy, a secretive cult, and a ring of counterfeiters in The Secret of Red Gate Farm.
I really didn’t see The Secret of Red Gate Farm as much of a mystery, not because there wasn’t something to be solved but because it dealt more with cults. However loosely used, a group of people run around flapping their arms to a tribal dance during the full moon, dressed in white sheets that I pictured akin to the KKK. I do not mean to say that they participated in the same actions but using pillowcases/sheets as garb reminded me of it.
The gist of the story is Nancy helping (yet again) a newly found friend and her grandmother save their farm and catch 1930s style Halley Comet Cult people (anyone remember that from the 90s?) Anyway, the mystery’s conception started when a bottle of perfume Nancy’s friend Bess bought sprayed all over Nan and she was mistaken for someone else, with Nancy exclaiming her catch-phrase “It must be a clue!” From there, the whole thing snowballed into Nan’s favorite hobby — solving mysteries. Nancy is the sweet, charming innocent person and becomes a good-doer by solving the case, everyone is happy. The End.
What set this apart from the others I have read thus far, is the cult aspect. It was an interesting new development because they also showed a character who obviously wanted out but was trapped against her will, I just thought it was interesting that Keene included that snippet, showing what a scary prospect it could be. Also, the whole time I was reading The Secret of Red Gate Farm, I kept thinking how advanced it was for preteen girls. Would they really have understood the definition of the word, even in the thirties? I thought, between saving the farm from being repossessed and the cult thing this was a very mature book.