And Then I Read: THE SURPRISE MYSTERY by Wendell Farmer


Another novel written for children by Lavinia R. Davis under the pen name of Wendell Farmer and illustrated by Alice Harvey. This one is from 1943 and is more of a straight mystery story than the last one I reviewed here, “Bicycle Detectives,” which includes a wartime saboteur. It takes place in summer, in the idyllic small town of Penton Village, where young Roddy is hitching a long ride on a hay wagon, unknown to the driver, to a pond for a swim on a hot day. Getting home is not so easy, and he takes a shortcut through the property of Miss Amelia Blodgett, something of a hermit, with an infamous brother behind bars. Roddy sees some suspicious men sneaking away from the house, and the next day learns of a robbery at another nearby house. Were the men he saw the robbers? Roddy and his friends Skid and Tace decide to investigate, and the plot thickens when they see the same men hopping a freight train out of town. Could Miss Blodgett be involved? She’s acting suspicously, and there might be someone hiding in her house. But then, when Skid’s dog Bunce gets hit by a car right outside the Blodgett house, Miss Amelia comes to his rescue and helps save him. Later, the plot thickens when some other men are seen apparently harassing Miss Blodgett. Roddy and his gang are determined to find out the truth.

A good story, again not the best work of Davis, but worth reading if you can find it. It’s remarkable how, as soon as an animal is involved, the writing perks up. Davis is at her best then. But this is a fun read.


The Surprise Mystery by Wendell Farmer

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