Arden Blake Mystery Series   

Arden Blake Mystery Series
by Cleo F. Garis

He looked toward his retreating companions, now some distance down the road, and then, with a frightened glance up at the old Hall, he turned again and ran away.

"Well, what do you think of this?" demanded Sim.  "Shall we go in?"  She turned to Dorothy as though asking her permission.

"I—er—why, of course!" the visitor decided, perhaps a bit hesitantly.  "If there's anything wrong we ought to notify the police.  Yes, we must do that."

It was a bold decision.  It rather pleased Arden and her chums.

                                                                        —page 52, The Mystery of Jockey Hollow

The Arden Blake Mystery Series was published by
A. L. Burt in 1934.  The series was written by Cleo F. Garis, the daughter of Howard and Lilian Garis, who were prolific authors of juvenile series books.

Titles in the Arden Blake Mystery Series:

  1. The Orchard Secret, 1934
  2. The Mystery of Jockey Hollow, 1934
  3. Missing at Marshlands, 1934

Cleo Garis was born on June 30, 1905.  She married John J. Clancy in 1928.  The three Arden Blake books are the only books written by Cleo Garis.  She died on June 28, 1998.

A.L. Burt published the series as a breeder set in 1934.  The series has never been reprinted, so all three titles are very hard to find and are about equally scarce, both with and without dust jackets.

The true title of volume 3 is Missing at Marshlands.  The title is given as Missing at Marshlands inside the book and as Missing at the Marshlands on the cover of the book, on the dust jacket, and on all of the dust jacket ads on various A.L. Burt books.  It is apparent from the story that the true title is Missing at Marshlands, since the girls stay at Marshlands.

This series follows the adventures of three girls, Arden Blake, Sim Westover, and Terry Landry as they begin college.  Volume 1 is set at Cedar Ridge College as the girls begin their freshman year.  Volume 2 takes place at Sim's house during Christmas vacation, and volume 3 begins at the close of the girls' freshman year as they begin summer vacation.

  #1 The Orchard Secret

It is with great excitement and trepidation that Arden Blake, Sim Westover, and Terry Landry arrive at Cedar Ridge College to begin their freshman year.  Soon after their arrival, the girls are warned of a hidden danger in the nearby orchard.  Arden's natural curiosity leads the girls into the orchard, where they see a strange man and hear unusual sounds that frighten them away.

In addition to the mystery of the orchard, the girls must face hazing by the sophomores, and Arden worries constantly about Sim and the college pool.  Sim agreed to come to Cedar Ridge only because of the splendid pool.  Upon their arrival, the girls learned that the pool is in disrepair and is now used to store fruits and vegetables.  The pool needs costly repairs which the school cannot afford.  How can Arden make it up to Sim?

The Orchard Secret
While in town, Arden spots a poster of a missing man named Harry Pangborn.  The poster offers a $1000 reward for information regarding his whereabouts, and Arden grasps at the thought of finding him.  $1000 is enough money to repair the college pool—what if Arden can find Harry Pangborn and pay for the pool repair?  Arden throws caution to the wind and even gets into trouble with the dean as she searches for Pangborn. 
  #2 The Mystery of Jockey Hollow

Arden, Sim, Terry, and their new friend, Dot Keene, stay at Sim's house while Sim's parents enjoy the Christmas holidays in the South.  During a ride past Sycamore Hall in nearby Jockey Hollow, the girls discover that the old Hall is to be torn down to make way for a park.  As it happens, a mystery surrounds the old house.  The demolition workers have been frightened away repeatedly by mysterious happenings.  It seems that a ghost inhabits the old mansion!

Intrigued, the girls investigate the old house shortly after a new set of workers arrive.  One of the workers, Jim Danton, vanishes from an upstairs room and strangely reappears in the basement, unconscious!  No secret panels are found, and there is no way that the man could have been removed from the room unobserved.  The other workers are frightened by the incident.  Arden and her friends help get Jim home safely and become acquainted with his needy family.

The Mystery of Jockey Hollow
The girls also become friendly with old Hannah Howe and her grandchildren, Dick and Betty.  The three live in the caretaker's cottage near the old mansion.  Mrs. Howe claims ownership to the old Hall, but the papers which would prove her ownership are hidden somewhere on the premises.  If only the papers could be found, the family could keep the house!  Arden hopes that she and her friends can somehow solve the mystery so that Granny Howe can keep the property, and at the same time help Jim Danton and his family.

  #3 Missing at Marshlands

Classes have ended for the summer, and Arden, Terry, and Sim drive down to Oceanedge, known as Marshlands, on the coast, where they are to spend the summer with Terry's mother.  During the drive, the girls meet a handsome Russian stranger and his dog.  Dimitri Uzlov has rented a houseboat so that he can paint in seclusion.

The girls are quite taken with Dimitri and have tea with him one afternoon.  While Uzlov refuses to show the girls a certain covered painting, he does let the girls see a priceless Russian snuffbox that he keeps with him in the houseboat.  Why does Dimitri keep such a valuable treasure with him?

The girls soon notice that Dimitri has strange visitors such as the unpleasant Olga and a mysterious man.  The girls are frightened one night by simple-minded Melissa Clayton, who is caught peering in the girls' window during a storm.

Missing at Marshlands
In the midst of these seemingly unrelated events, Uzlov disappears!  While investigating Uzlov's deserted houseboat, the girls learn that the snuffbox has been stolen and gaze upon the formerly covered painting—upon which is portrayed the most astonishing subject!  The surprises are far from over, and the girls must use all of their wits to locate Uzlov before it is too late.
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