The Mystery at the Old Rancho by Kim Dwinell


Goodreads: The Mystery at the Old Rancho
Series: Surfside Girls #2
Source: Library
Published: 2019


Sam and Jade are back to solve another mystery! When Maria, one of the ghosts at Danger Point, starts to think she is seeing her long-dead father, Sam and Jade start investigating. What really happened to Maria’s father? And who is the man she saw on the beach?

Star Divider


The Mystery at the Old Rancho is the second installment of the Surfside Girls series, but readers do not have to be familiar with the first adventure to solve this one. The basic premise is that protagonists Jade and Sam can see ghosts, and they help those ghosts solve mysteries. It’s sort of like an updated Nancy Drew series, with a supernatural twist. I was totally engrossed.

Sam and Jade are likable protagonists, not drawn in any detail, but likable mainly because they are young, they are friends, and they are eager to help. Their kind of vague characterization is an asset, much like Nancy Drew’s–who they are does not matter as much as their ability to solve mysteries. They are stand-ins for the readers, who live vicariously through their adventures.

And what a great adventure they have in this installment! In their attempts to help Maria, a ghost who believes she is seeing her deceased father, they visit a museum, travel to consult some archives, and end up finding a secret passageway. The story thus has some semblance of realism in its depiction of how to track down historical details, but also that hint of escapist fun.

The Mystery at the Old Rancho is a perfect summer read. Set on the beach, it has surfing, cute boys, and a beautiful natural setting–as well as mystery and adventure. Fans of serial mystery stories like Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys will enjoy this series, as well graphic novel fans looking for their next engrossing read.

5 stars

6 thoughts on “The Mystery at the Old Rancho by Kim Dwinell

  1. Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku says:

    Cute! I am glad to see a modern mystery series that can hold up to Nancy Drew for middle-grade readers. This is a graphic novel? For some reason, I wouldn’t have guessed that without you mentioning it. I was going to ask whether Sam and Jade are distinguished from each other, personality-wise, but I find this is something often skipped in graphic novels. Why make distinct personalities when you can physically show the reader who is who? Either way. Still curious if they are distinct!


    • Krysta says:

      I somehow read book two first by accident, but now that I’ve read book one, I would say that the first book spends more time with differentiating the two girls. Sam is more into spending time on the sea surfing and she works as a junior life guard. Jade seems to be the organized one who likes to take notes and wants to go to museums or archives to research. She’ll go on the water, too, but I get the sense she has more hobbies while Sam probably spends most of her time in the ocean. That’s probably the main difference between the two, but they both end up researching and going surfing anyway, so there is overlap there.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku says:

        Oy! I hate it when that happens, but I’m glad that I’m not the only person who accidentally reads book two first. XD

        I’m glad these ladies are differenciated in a meaningful way, then. Yay! I’ll check these out in the future.


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