The Clue of the Tapping Heels

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The Clue of the Tapping Heels
Original edition cover
Author Carolyn Keene
Cover artist Russell H. Tandy
Country United States
Language English
Series Nancy Drew Mystery Stories
Genre Juvenile literature
Publisher Grosset & Dunlap
Publication date
1939, 1969
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
ISBN 0-448-09516-5
OCLC 39921931
Preceded by The Haunted Bridge
Followed by The Mystery of the Brass Bound Trunk

The Clue of the Tapping Heels is the 16th volume in the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories series. It was first published in 1939. An updated, revised, and largely different story was published under the same title in 1970. The 1939 version is published as a different edition by Applewood Books. As of 2006, this title is still in print.

Plot summary, 1939 edition[edit]

Nancy Drew, age 16, has recently heard from her neighbor, Mrs. Carter, that her rare kittens are being stolen. Also, Mrs. Carter has accused a man named Fred of stealing a disabled child’s funds. The action soon takes Nancy to Boston and a cruise ship, where Nancy meets further peril in her attempts to restore the child's funds, and resolve the stolen-kitten quandary.

1969 revision[edit]

Nancy is appearing as a tap dancer in a charity show. Along with chums Bess and George, she begins investigating strange tapping sounds at the elderly Mrs. Purdy's home. Purdy is a cat enthusiast who owns mostly valuable breeding stock. Nancy determines a hoax is afoot, attacks are occurring at the charity show, and the mysterious tapping sounds continue. Could they be coded messages?


The original Russell H. Tandy cover art shows an animated and visibly angry Nancy accompanied Bess and George. They are seizing a ladder at Nancy's house by moonlight. Discussions among collectors draw the conclusion that elements of this depiction were incorrect because the publisher's art department dictated that the scene must show Nancy with her friends. Also, the house does not match the description of Nancy Drew's home. The revised cover artwork by Rudy Nappi for the 1962 picture cover shows the same scene, corrected to match the actual text, but lacking action. Nancy, alone, sees the ladder outside her home at night. For the 1969 revised edition, the cover art is very vivid and somewhat psychedelic, with images of Nancy tap dancing, and a head shot beneath a large Persian cat head, all on a sunflower-yellow background. This version was also painted by Nappi.


Adult collectors of nostalgia and juvenile series fiction often discuss book titles in fanzines or list serves. The original Clue of the Tapping Heels places much focus on cats, and also on a "lost love" subplot involving Miss Carter and her former leading man. A minor element of political incorrectness exists in that one crook, wearing partial make-up and wigs is described as a freckle-faced, colored man. Incense is used as a drug against Nancy and George, an element removed from the revision, as drugs were popular in teen culture at the time. Further, a young boy suffering from developmental and intellectual disabilities regains his full faculties after surgery, which is highly unlikely.

The revision also draws criticism, mostly from liberal circles, due to what some feel are overt placements of Nancy commenting on her desire to attend church as often as she can, and contains much physical action and danger, but is generally somewhat more believable in tone.