The Penny Parker Mystery Stories
by Mildred A. Wirt Benson

The summaries on this page were written in their entirety by this site's webmaster, Jennifer White, in the early 2000s.  Since that time, the summaries have been copied to other series book websites without permission and without proper source attribution.

The Penny Parker Mystery Stories were written by Mildred A. Wirt Benson and were published by Cupples and Leon from 1939 to 1947.  All seventeen volumes come with dust jackets.  Both the books and the dust jackets come in a variety of colors.  While most of the books are either red or blue, some of the books are green or yellow.  The dust jackets are printed in a variety of color combinations.  Please visit the Penny Parker dust jacket gallery for more information.

Penny Parker is a fun character; in fact, she is very similar to Lenora Whitehill from the Beverly Gray books.  She is impulsive and can come up with a wild scheme in an instant and put it into motion in the next instant.  Penny loves to spend money and never has enough of it!

Titles in the Penny Parker Series:

  1. Tale of the Witch Doll, 1939
  2. The Vanishing Houseboat, 1939
  3. Danger at the Drawbridge, 1940
  4. Behind the Green Door, 1940
  5. Clue of the Silken Ladder, 1941
  6. The Secret Pact, 1941
  7. The Clock Strikes Thirteen, 1942
  8. The Wishing Well, 1942
  9. Saboteurs on the River, 1943
10. Ghost Beyond the Gate, 1943
11. Hoofbeats on the Turnpike, 1944
12. Voice from the Cave, 1944
13. Guilt of the Brass Thieves, 1945
14. Signal in the Dark, 1946
15. Whispering Walls, 1946
16. Swamp Island, 1947
17. The Cry at Midnight, 1947

  #1 Tale of the Witch Doll

With the sometimes reluctant help of her friend Louise Sidell, Penny Parker discovers the secret behind Melvin Osandra's seance establishment, and in turn, helps her friend Nellie Marble out of her difficulties with her doll shop.  Additionally, Penny is able to free actress Helene Harmon from the plague of the witch doll that will not disappear.  After solving her mysteries, Penny gets the honor of writing up the story for her father's newspaper.

  #2 The Vanishing Houseboat

When Penny and Louise take their friend Laura Blair to apply for a new job, they accidentally discover several mysteries.  Linda begins work in a boarding house known for strange disappearances.  Meanwhile, Penny becomes acquainted with Mud-Cat Joe and his family who are homeless ever since their houseboat was stolen.  Naturally, the two mysteries are connected, and Penny is able to help both Laura Blair and Mud-Cat Joe at the same time.

  #3 Danger at the Drawbridge

When the newspaper's society editor becomes ill, Penny gets to cover a society wedding at a mysterious old estate which is surrounded by a moat.  Penny discovers quite a mystery when the groom fails to show up for the wedding.  Penny also learns about a missing tax evader and searches for both men at the same time.  Penny solves the mysteries and earns another scoop for the Riverview Star.

  #4 Behind the Green Door

Penny visits a ski resort and stumbles upon several mysteries.  Unknown enemies are trying to force the resort to close, and during her investigations, Penny discovers a mysterious green door in the resort that leads to a room that can only be entered by invitation.  Meanwhile, a new acquaintance offers to sell Penny a fur coat inexpensively.  Penny investigates, solving all of the mysteries, scoops a rival reporter, and is rewarded with a new car.

  #5 Clue of the Silken Ladder

On an impulse, Penny buys back her old car, the Leaping Lena, even though she has a new car and no money, but fortunately, she gets another job at her father's newspaper.  Penny discovers a strange silken ladder and learns how it is used in burglaries.  She also connects the burglaries with a group of fake mediums, and her story earns her a much-needed raise in pay at the newspaper.

  #6 The Secret Pact

Penny wants to write a story about a strange tattoo she sees on a sailor, but neither her father's nor her school's newspaper agree to the idea.  Penny impulsively decides to start a new newspaper in the abandoned Morning Press building and enlists the help of a few close friends.  She soon finds herself in over her head and courting trouble after she runs the story about the tattooed man in her new paper.  Penny's story turns into a big scoop, gaining Penny respect from her father's colleagues.

  #7 The Clock Strikes Thirteen

Sinister hooded riders are terrorizing farmers at night, and most of the farmers are reluctant to talk.  Meanwhile, a man named Blake makes a generous donation to the Riverview orphan's camp and offers to buy their land, but Penny suspects that he is somehow trying to cheat the orphans.  Penny links the hooded bandits to Blake and prevents the orphans from being cheated.

  #8 The Wishing Well

Wishes made at a well on an old abandoned estate are mysteriously granted, and Penny searches for the explanation.  In addition to magical qualities, the well appears to have a tangible hidden value since the property owner is seen searching the vicinity, and a neighbor tries to buy the land.  Penny investigates and discovers not only the secret of the well but also a valuable treasure.

  #9 Saboteurs on the River

Saboteurs dynamite a bridge, and a man named Burt Ottman is accused of the crime based on evidence supplied by Penny.  Penny feels that Burt is innocent, so she plans to find the culprits in order to exonerate Burt.  Penny seeks the help of a man named Old Noah who lives in an ark filled with animals while he awaits the second great flood.  Old Noah plays a role in bringing the saboteurs to justice.

  #10 Ghost Beyond the Gate

Mr. Parker is in a car accident and is taken to the hospital by another driver.  However, Mr. Parker never arrives at the hospital, leaving Penny frantic with worry.  Penny takes over running the newspaper in her father's absence and discovers a clue to her father's whereabouts at an old abandoned mansion.  After Penny helps rescue her father, she is rewarded with a raise in her allowance.

  #11 Hoofbeats on the Turnpike

Penny is in need of money, as usual, and is highly interested when a man shows her a clipping offering a reward for any information leading to the capture of the Headless Horseman.  Penny and Louise travel to Red Valley to search for the horseman and find themselves trapped in a flood after a dam breaks.  After several exciting adventures, Penny locates the horseman and has another story for the newspaper.

  #12 Voice from the Cave

Penny is dismayed when her father's new friend, Mrs. Deline, travels with the Parkers on their vacation.  Penny considers Mrs. Deline to be a pest and feels that Mrs. Deline has ruined their vacation.  Fortunately, Penny is distracted by a search for foreign spies who are hiding in the area and have been transmitting information over the radio.  Penny is quite pleased when Mrs. Deline turns out to be one of the foreign agents.

  #13 Guilt of the Brass Thieves

Mr. Gandiss and his son, Jack, ask Mr. Parker to help them stop the theft of brass from their airplane factory.  While Jack and Penny visit the factory, a piece of brass is found in the possession of Sally Barker, and she is fired.  Sally maintains that she has no idea how the brass came to be in her locker, and Penny believes her.  With Jack and Sally's help, Penny brings the thieves to justice and clears Sally's name.

  #14 Signal in the Dark

The Riverview Star is short-handed, and Penny convinces Mr. Parker to hire her during her school vacation.  Penny finds the work difficult, especially because a jealous reporter makes trouble for her.  Penny is asked to cover an explosion at the Conway Steel Plant and bungles the job when she loses the camera that was used to take pictures for the story.  Penny later redeems herself by recovering the camera and thwarting a gang's plot to sell a fake explosive device.

  #15 Whispering Walls

Hamilton Rhett, the bank president, has disappeared with a large sum of money.  Penny finds a piece of paper with a strange symbol on it, which Mr. Rhett's secretary, Albert Potts, says is a plumed serpent.  By all appearances, Mr. Rhett has stolen the money, but Penny soon realizes that things are not as they seem.  As Penny discovers, Mr. Rhett's disappearance has nothing to do with the disappearance of the money.

  #16 Swamp Island

Penny and Louise go to a nearby swamp to gather flowers for a banquet and manage to lose Louise's dog during the trip.  They plan to go back, but first they learn of an escaped convict.  Penny knows the convict would hide in the swamp, thus giving her another reason to search the swamp.  While dodging dangerous animals, the girls discover Louise's dog, the convict, an illegal immigrant, and an illegal alcohol distillery in the swamp.

  #17 The Cry at Midnight

While out skiing at night, Penny, Louise, and Jerry hear strange sounds coming from a nearby monastery.  They discover that a religious cult is living at the monastery.  Penny tries to learn more about the cult, but the leader is very secretive.  When Penny learns of a missing woman who is interested in cults, she becomes convinced that there is a connection.  Penny masquerades as one of the cult members and learns the secret of the strange cult.

List of Mildred Wirt Benson's Stories and Novels for Children
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