The Perry Pierce Mystery Stories   

The Perry Pierce Mystery Stories for Boys
by Clinton W. Locke

"All right, then, I'll go alone," Perry said.  "I didn't ask anybody to go with me."

"Of course, we are all coming," Steve cried, eager to prove his courage.

The others also insisted they had never dreamed of failing to accompany Perry on any expedition to any haunted house.  Indeed, they gave the impression they had been born and brought up in haunted houses, so intent were the young men on assuring their recognized leader of their bravery.

                                                   —pages 71-72, Who Took the Papers

Decorated endpaper from a Donohue edition; signed by Helen Chamberlin
This Stratemeyer Syndicate series was written by Leslie McFarlane, author of the early Hardy Boys books, and by Walter Karig, author of three of the early Nancy Drew books.  The first title was written by McFarlane and the remaining three titles by Karig.  The first three books were illustrated by Russell H. Tandy.  The fourth book was illustrated by C. C. Stevens.

The first three books were originally published by Altemus and later reprinted by Donohue and Goldsmith.  The fourth book was originally published by Donohue and later reprinted by Goldsmith.  The Donohue editions have good quality paper, four glossy illustrations, and either plain or decorated endpapers.  The Altemus editions have good quality paper, four glossy illustrations, and plain endpapers.  The Goldsmith editions, which are the most common, have pulp paper and plain endpapers.

The series chronicles the adventures of Perry Pierce and his fellow members of the Skull Mystery Club.  Perry Pierce is the president of the club and takes the lead in the group's adventures.  Perry's closest friends are Jimmy Hinton, Ken Lockwood, and Steve Fogarth.  There are additional members of the Skull Mystery Club, but they have very little part in the stories.

Titles in the Perry Pierce Series:

  1. Who Closed the Door, 1931
  2. Who Opened the Safe, 1931
  3. Who Hid the Key, 1932
  4. Who Took the Papers, 1934

Jimmy, Ken, and Steve are not written as distinctive characters and are all about the same with the exception being that Steve loves to eat.  Steve is described as larger than the others and mentions food frequently.  All three of Perry's friends are more timid that him and are sometimes hesitant about entering into dangerous adventures.

The first two books in the series take place during the boys' summer vacation and have the same setting with stories that are parts of a single plot.  The third and part of the fourth book take place at Warnock Academy, and a significant portion of both the third and fourth books involves harassment by Perry's archenemy, Jack Tolley.  Clyde Peele is described as Jack's toady, and the two characters are obvious predecessors to Lettie Briggs and Ina Mason of the Dana Girls series.

The Perry Pierce and Doris Force series are companion series, the former for boys and the latter for girls.  Both were published by Altemus, Donohue, and Goldsmith, and both series have four titles.  Additionally, the two series were written by three people, Mildred A. Wirt Benson, Walter Karig, and Leslie McFarlane, who were authors of the early Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books.

  #1 Who Closed the Door                                                 1931
            or Perry Pierce and the Old Storehouse Mystery
Perry Pierce and three of his friends from the Skull Mystery Club, Jimmy Hinton, Ken Lockwood, and Steve Fogarth, stay in Perry's cottage on Artichoke Island for the summer.  The four boys hope to find a mystery to solve so that they report on a mystery and remain members of the club.  Each member of the Skull Mystery Club must report upon a mystery at the start of each term in order to remain a member in good standing.

The four boys get a lucky break when they accompany the police on an investigation of the Sunflower Storehouse.  The elderly caretakers, the Carter brothers, report flashing lights and mysterious noises that occur at night in the warehouse.  While the police search the building, one of the officers is attacked by a tomahawk-wielding Indian.  The police captain refuses to believe the story, but the boys feel certain that the officer is telling the truth.

Who Closed the Door
The boys receive permission to investigate the storehouse at night.  On each subsequent trip, one of the boys is attacked by a bizarre apparition—a woman in white, a man in armor, and finally, a Hindu idol.  Each boy is wounded seriously enough that he must quit the investigation.  Ultimately, it is left to Perry to investigate the warehouse.  How Perry discovers the cause of each apparition and helps to apprehend a band of thieves makes for a thrilling adventure.
  #2 Who Opened the Safe                                                1931
            or Perry Pierce and the Secret Cipher Mystery
Perry, Jimmy, Ken, and Steve continue their stay at Perry's cottage on Artichoke Island.  The boys witness a motorboat crashing into a canoe and rescue the lone occupant of the canoe from drowning.  Perry is surprised to discover that the girl is Jessica Kenwood.

Jessica tells Perry that she and her grandfather have been unable to locate his inheritance, an old safe, that had disappeared from the Sunflower Storehouse.  Jessica's grandfather has now been abducted, and Jessica believes that his abduction is connected to the mystery of the missing safe.

Perry and his friends stumble upon the right trail when they witness a group of criminals hunting for a buried treasure.  The boys track the men to their hideout, but are captured and become prisoners!

Who Opened the Safe
Perry and his friends escape, but are no closer to finding Mr. Kenwood.  The boys face several more dangerous adventures before they finally locate Mr. Kenwood and the secret concealed by the missing safe.
  #3 Who Hid the Key                                                        1932
            or Perry Pierce Tracing the Counterfeit Money
Perry and his friends return to Warnock Academy for the fall term.  Jack Tolley, the school bully, initiates a campaign of harassment against Perry and the Skull Mystery Club.  Jack unsuccessfully attempts to acquire the club's meeting room for his own club's use and steals a bunch of the club's supplies from the closet.

Meanwhile, Perry's wallet is stolen along with the entire club's dues.  Perry promises to make good, but many students at the school begin to distrust him.  Jack Tolley takes advantage by spreading false rumors about Perry.  The situation worsens when Perry's wallet and money is mysteriously returned; Perry makes change for a $20 bill for Jack only to learn later that the money he gave Jack was counterfeit.  Jack fuels more rumors, this time of Perry being a counterfeiter, and soon nobody except for Perry's closest friends will speak to him.

Who Hid the Key
Perry and his friends set out to locate and capture the counterfeiters on their own.  How the chums daringly fulfill their task while hindered by Jack Tolley's interference, will keep the reader breathless until the very end.
  #4 Who Took the Papers                                                 1934
            or Perry Pierce Gathering the Printed Clues
Perry witnesses a confrontation between a strange man and Professor Strong.  It seems that the mysterious stranger is blackmailing the professor.  Professor Strong tells Perry that the man has threatened to implicate him in the death of a dear friend, Judge Morand.  The Professor will reveal no more about the case, much to Perry's disappointment.

Perry, Ken, and Jimmy visit Steve at his home during the winter holidays.  Perry notes that the strange man who is blackmailing Professor Strong has also traveled to the same small town.  Perry is further intrigued when he learns that Judge Morand's former home is located near Steve's home.  Perry is fortunate to meet Judge Morand's widow and learns that the Judge was accidentally shot by his son, who confessed upon his deathbed to the murder.

Who Took the Papers
Perry feels that all is not what it seems and begins an investigation into the affair.  Perry is proved to be right, and his investigation brings him into contact with a manly woman possessing inhuman strength as well as an arrogant and obnoxious newspaper reporter.  Perry learns how the woman and reporter are connected to the murder and solves one of his most challenging cases.
Back to Main Page