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The Secret of Shadow Ranch Spoilers

Welcome to the new Computer Game Spoilers section of my gaming website. I added this section because I recently received questions about the plots of two different games which, to my surprise and embarrassment, I had totally forgotten the answers to. Then, to my further surprise, I was unable to find any existing website that would refresh my memory about the plots of computer games... lots of puzzle solutions, but no basic plot summaries.

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So I figured I'd better write some of them down while they're still fresh in my mind, just in case I or anybody else wants to refer to them at some point in the future (or in case anybody suffers a major game glitch and just wants to know what was supposed to happen in the end-- I get letters like this from time to time.) If you haven't finished The Secret of Shadow Ranch yet and you don't want the plot of this game to be revealed to you, then you don't want to read this page. Please go back to my main The Secret of Shadow Ranch page, where I give tips and reviews without giving away any of its plot.

But if you are looking for plot spoilers, just scroll further down the page to find them!

Plot Summary

The setup and basic plot of this game is based on the classic Nancy Drew novel The Secret at Shadow Ranch. As in the book, Nancy is taking a vacation with her friends Bess and George to visit the other girls' aunt and uncle, Bet and Ed Rawley. Bess and George have their flight delayed however, so only Nancy is present as the mystery unfolds. Basically a ghostly, glowing horse starts appearing at the ranch, and at the same time, misfortune strikes. First Ed is bitten by a rattlesnake, then a pipe bursts, then the electricity cuts out. The horse is claimed to be the ghost of notorious local outlaw Dirk Valentine's horse, but of course, it actually is an ordinary white horse painted with phosphorescent powder. One of the ranch hands, Shorty, is using the horse and the accidents to try to scare everyone off the Rawleys' ranch so he can search for the treasure of notorious outlaw Dirk Valentine. Nancy finds the treasure first and stops Shorty from stealing it from her by trapping him on a ledge. Even though the gold turns out to be hidden in some ancient cliff dwellings which do not belong to the Rawleys, they claim it anyway, and Bess and George finally arrive for their vacation.

Character Subplots and Secrets

Tex Britten: The gruff ranch hand. Nancy eventually finds out that he's in love with Mary Yazzie. He's hiding this from the Rawleys because he knows they don't like her and fears they would fire him if they knew he was seeing her, which he's probably correct about given how little it takes to make them throw Nancy out. He is also the brother of Jane Nash, who was fired by the Rawleys and felt mistreated by them.

Mary Yazzie: Navajo shopkeeper (actually she's only identified as "Native American" in the game, but Yazzie is a Navajo name.) Bet and Ed are jerking her around about a piece of land she wants to buy in order to collect petrified wood for her business, even though they don't want the land themselves, just because they think selling it to her would "send the wrong signal." In the epilogue, the Rawleys improve their attitude towards Mary (though it doesn't really say why-- maybe the hidden treasure cheered them up) and she begins openly dating Tex.

Dave Gregory: A cute ranch hand who has a little crush on Nancy. She catches him secretly poking around in the cellar and he admits he is looking for Dirk Valentine's treasure-- Dave is the descendant of Frances Humber's cousin Ellie, who she told about the hidden treasure after Dirk's death. He didn't tell the Rawleys about this because he was afraid they would take the treasure for themselves, which, in fact, is exactly what they do. Dave's family relationship to Dirk and Frances doesn't really give him any claim on the gold, since Dirk just stole it anyway, but the Rawleys, who have even less of a claim, offer to give him some of it in the epilogue anyway.

Shorty Thurmond: The talkative cook. He is the one responsible for all of the accidents on the ranch, which he engineered out of the (mistaken) belief that the treasure was hidden somewhere on the ranch. He is in league with some local bank robbers.

Minor Characters

Bet and Ed Rawley: The ranch owners, aunt and uncle of Nancy's friends Bess and George. Mercifully, you only have to talk to them by phone, and not very often unless you do something wrong. These are probably the most annoying characters in the entire Nancy Drew game series-- not only are they jerks to their employees and neighbors but to Nancy, too. Despite the fact that she is trying to investigate a dangerous attack on Ed's life, they still force her to do tedious farm chores for them for free and yell at her and kick her off the ranch if she doesn't do a good enough job (they will throw Nancy out for picking too many unripe vegetables, no kidding.) They were much less tyrannical and even sympathetic characters in the original novel.

Jane Nash: Tex's sister, she was fired by the Rawleys (probably for picking a green tomato) and is angry at them for the way she was treated. But she turns out to be a red herring and is never seen or spoken to in the game.

Dirk Valentine, Frances Humber, and Meryl Humber: These were characters in the 1800's whose life Nancy learns about through letters and legends. Dirk Valentine was an outlaw, Frances Humber was his sweetheart, and Meryl Humber was her disapproving father. Their connection to the plot is that Meryl Humber was the original owner of Shadow Ranch, and Dirk Valentine hid a valuable treasure for Frances in the area, which Shorty, Dave, and Nancy are all trying to find.

Charleena Purcell and Sherriff Hernandez: You need to call these characters on the telephone to learn plot information, but they are never seen on screen in this game and are not suspects. Cherleena reappears as a character in Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon.

Bess, George, Frank, and Joe: As usual in Nancy Drew games, these characters have no subplots and exist only to chat with Nancy on the telephone and deliver hints if the player needs them.

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