Clue of the Silken Ladder by Mildred A. Wirt (1941)

Every time I read another book in this series I envy Penny’s courage and quick thinking more and more. If only I had those qualities as a teenager… oh well! I was surprised to find that I had some previous experience with this mystery. The discussion of fake mediums and spiritualists is a topic I’ve explored in my own plodding way. Usually the discussion of spiritualism glosses over the methods and focuses on those being duped. People who believe in the frauds are frequently described as stupid in a very demeaning way. That’s not quite fair. This novel accurately describes both the mechanics that manifest “spirit phenomena” and the psychology that makes an individual susceptible to these scams. To me the psychology is most fascinating. Belief usually manifests not from stupidity but from desperation. Those most likely to visit mediums are people who have recently experienced death in the family. Factoring in their emotionally difficult state, the closure temptingly offered by mediums can be hard to turn down. Curious readers will find many old and dusty volumes happily expose the methods used by fake mediums at the time this book was published.

Mrs. Weems, the Parker’s housekeeper, receives happy news in the mail. A distant cousin has died leaving her a fortune of $6,000. Dreams of a vacation to the Grand Canyon seem finally realized. On the other hand, a medium performing a seance at friends house informs Mrs. Weems that her cousin would rather she invest in safe securities than go traveling out west. Mrs. Weems finds herself caught between the Parkers and the medium. Should she believe the medium who knew so many things about her cousin or instead believe the skeptical Parker family? Penny is suspicious of the medium and decides to investigate. The whole case might rest on the Clue of the Silken Ladder.

 

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free ebook download: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/34591

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The Clock Strikes Thirteen by Mildred A. Wirt (1942)

Penny Parker and her friends are fun to be around. She gets into trouble, trouble and more trouble. Reading about quick witted teenage sleuths is always a level of wish fulfillment for me. I wanted for a few years to be a similar adventurous detective and fantasized constantly about my exploits. This series scratches that itch perfectly.

This time we find Penny tugged into a complex case by the most innocent of means. Driving home at midnight she hears the clock chime thirteen times. Amused by the oddity Penny asks her father if he’s heard the odd number. Instead of confirmation, he laughs at the silly pronouncement. Penny is adamant and goes out of her way to prove her dad wrong. In the process, the Parker family bumps into a criminal ring and searches for answers. Eat some melon and listen until The Clock Strikes Thirteen.

 

free ebook download: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/34403

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Behind the Green Door by Mildred A. Wirt (1940)

Sometimes books feel new and exciting. This book instead felt familiar and homely like drinking hot cocoa on a winter day under a warm blanket. I’m reminded of walking the two blocks from elementary school to the public library. Ignoring the new books and magazines, I would walk to a bookshelf filled completely with Hardy Boys mysteries. Burrowing two or three every visit I managed to read more than fifty different blue bound adventures over the course of my childhood. This story felt familiar because it features fearless teenage sleuth and is written in the vein of the Nancy Drew Mysteries. In fact, Mildred A. Wirt was the original ghost writer of the Nancy Drew series back in the thirties. On a sick day spent in bed, this was a warm reminder of days gone by.

Penny Parker was hoping to travel to Pine Top for a fun family skiing vacation. Those plans go up in smoke when her father’s newspaper gets sued for libel. Instead Penny flies up to Pine Top by herself and learns that her friends lodge is being pushed out of business by the new hotel in town. The ski vacation becomes more interesting when she learns that there may be a connection between the hotel and the man who sued her father’s newspaper. The clues to the mystery will be found Behind the Green Door.

 

free ebook download: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/34592

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An Amiable Charlatan by E. Phillips Oppenheim(1916)

This was a treat. Yes, yes . . . a real treat. *sigh* I don’t want to spoil it for you. Suffice to say that it is a rollicking good time following around Mr. Parker and his daughter. Sweet cons and crimes galore. Become a card carrying adventurer today by reading An Amiable Charlatan. 

 

free ebook download: http://manybooks.net/titles/oppenheietext068achr10.html

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The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie (1922)

I feel kind of bad writing about this book. Not that the book is bad. In fact, it is fantastic and I loved every moment I spent reading it. On the other hand, it feels too easy to recommend  an Agatha Christie book since she is one of the greatest selling authors of all time. But I digress. I loved it and that’s that.
Tommy and Tuppence are a wonderful one, two punch precisely because it is impossible to tell who is one and who is two. They are comrades and companions that rely on each other unlike say the Holmes and Watson pairing. I always felt that Holmes had the ability to solve any case by his lonesome and in many cases he did. But what makes it all the more wonderful is that the running dialogue between Tommy and Tuppence is fantastic. I’m always a sucker for witty dialogue and this is just about the best. They remind me vaguely of another witty and conversational couple: Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin. To not be outdone the story itself is also thrilling and leaves the best mystery until the end. So pick up a copy of The Secret Adversary. 

free ebook download: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1155

A Yellow Journalist by Miriam Michelson (1905)

This was a book I stumbled upon. I just tripped over it and when I looked back I was surprised. Welcome to the world of wild rumors, gossip and every underhanded ploy known to woman. Rhoda Massey is an up and coming journalist in and around San Francisco. Growing up in the Bay Area many of the names and places in this story hold a special meaning to me. These pages chronicle her time spent chasing secrets, stories and scoops. Like a great detective tracks a killer, Rhoda tracks her headline. The headlines range from murder and bribery to gambling. Each story is thrilling and fast-paced. Miriam Michelson creates twists and turns to puzzle and delight the reader. For all lovers of detective novels, please check out A Yellow Journalist.

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