The Madge Sterling Series   

The Madge Sterling Series
by Mildred A. Wirt (as Ann Wirt)

The Madge Sterling Series was written by Mildred A. Wirt Benson under the pen name of Ann Wirt.  The three Madge Sterling books were released as a breeder set in 1932 by Goldsmith.  The books are thin hardcovers printed on pulp paper and come with dust jackets.  The books have shorter stories than most books from the 1930s, with a page count between 120 and 130 pages apiece.

Madge Sterling is an orphan who lives with her aunt and uncle, Maude and George Brady.  Madge's mother died when she was a baby, and her father disappeared a short time later after he departed on a prospecting expedition.  Madge's beau is a young ranger named Jack French who frequently comes to Madge's aid when a mystery needs to be solved.

On an interesting side note, the Zudi Drum is at the center of the plot of The Deserted Yacht.  A nearly identical object, also called the Zudi Drum, is part of the plot in Penny Parker #15, Whispering Walls.  In both books, religious fanatics from a foreign country seek to recover the Zudi Drum.

  #1 The Missing Formula
Madge Sterling's new friend, Anne Fairaday, has recently lost her father.  Anne may also soon lose her home since the house is mortgaged, and she has very little money left.  Anne's only hope is to find her father's valuable secret formula for a substance that will keep metal from rusting.  Mr. Fairaday hid the formula to prevent theft, only he never told Anne the location of the hiding place.

Madge helps Anne search for the formula with no success.  Anne does have a few meager clues which lead Madge to suspect that a certain book may hold the secret.  However, nothing can be found inside the book.  Complicating matters, Mr. Fairaday's former assistant snoops around the Fairaday property in an attempt to locate the formula for himself.  Madge and Anne continue their search, hoping to locate the formula before it lands in the wrong hands.

The Missing Formula
  #2 The Deserted Yacht
Madge arrives at Cheltham Bay to spend a few weeks with her friend, Enid Burnett, and her father on their yacht, The Flora.  Much to Madge's surprise, no one meets her at the dock.  Madge hires a man to row her out to the yacht which appears to be deserted.  Madge finds that Mr. Burnett's room has been ransacked and then discovers Enid a prisoner in the closet.  Enid reports that her father has been abducted by several men.

A ransom note is found the next day, requesting that Enid deliver Mr. Burnett's Zudi Drum Bowl to a location approximately 50 miles up the coast.  Madge and Enid wonder why the kidnappers want the bowl instead of money.  Enid is determined to take the bowl to the requested meeting place, but Madge and Enid's friend, Rex Stewart, are unconvinced of the wiseness of the mission.  They follow Enid on her journey so that they can help her if something goes wrong.

The Deserted Yacht
  #3 The Secret of the Sundial
Madge's summer vacation has ended, and she is back in school.  Madge and her friends initiate Cara Wayne into their secret society by requesting that Cara visit the spooky Swenster mansion at night.  Cara comes back tremendously frightened because she saw a ghost digging on the property.  While the other girls are skeptical, Madge feels that Cara did see something strange.

Madge and Cara visit the Swenster mansion the next day and meet Agatha Swenster, who plans to sell the house.  The girls quickly become friends with Miss Swenster and help her prepare the mansion and its contents for auction.  The girls learn of a valuable pearl necklace that has been missing for years and how much its recovery would mean to Miss Swenster.  The girls search for the pearl necklace and hope that they can recover it so that Miss Swenster does not have to sell the mansion.

The Secret of the Sundial
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