Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Case of the Calico Crab and Mystery of the Folding Key by Augusta Seaman

In The Case of the Calico Crab, Stacy and Betsy find a calico crab shell in an empty house.  When they check the next day, the shell has been moved!  The empty house is on private property upon which Stacy's family lives, so nobody should be prowling around.  Meanwhile, Spike, who is a friend of Stacy's brother, is staying nearby in an old truck.  Spike acts mysterious, and Stacy wonders what he is doing.  Soon, the girls realize that the mysterious events are connected with a plot against the United States.

The property is being leased from a man named Mr. Drew.  I point this out because of what I mention regarding the next book.

This book is set in January 1942, just one month after Pearl Harbor and America's entry into World War II.

This is a good book.

In Mystery of the Folding Key, June's brother, Chuck, wants to win a contest for the student who brings in the most old keys for a scrap metal drive.  June and Chuck go to Miss Abbie Truman's house, and she decides to give them all of her old keys.  When the old chest is emptied of keys, Chuck accidentally drops it, revealing a false bottom.  A strange folding key is found hidden by the false bottom, and Miss Abbie is so shocked by the key that she has a stroke.  June and Chuck work on solving the mystery of the folding key, hoping that the solution will help Miss Abbie.

This book is enmeshed in the atmosphere of World War II.  In addition to the scrap metal drive, Mrs. Campbell has to nurse Miss Abbie because most nurses are away with the soldiers.  An air raid siren goes off early in the story, and everyone has to stay inside and in the dark during a blackout.  Peggy, who is Miss Abbie's maid, plans to purchase war bonds with her salary.

This book was published just a few years before the Nancy Drew books The Clue in the Old Album and The Ghost of Blackwood Hall.  This may be just coincidence, but I find it rather interesting that this book features a difficult woman named Putney and that a vital clue to the mystery is found in an old family album.

I mentioned that a man named Mr. Drew was mentioned in the previous book.  In this book, Mrs. Campell is named June Campbell.  That is the name of a character from the Nancy Drew book, The Mystery at the Moss-Covered Mansion, which was published before this Augusta Seaman book.  The similar names probably are just coincidence, but it makes me wonder whether employees of the Stratemeyer Syndicate were reading Seaman's books and whether Seaman was reading Nancy Drew books.

This is an excellent story.

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