Behind the Green Door (1940) by Mildred A. Wirt
Penny Parker and her dad are planning a Christmas skiing trip to a lodge in Pine Top when Mr. Parker is forced to cancel his plans. Harvey Maxwell, a businessman who owns a chain of hotels, is suing the newspaper of which Parker is editor and publisher for libel. One of Parker's reporters quoted a football player as saying Maxwell had offered him a bribe to throw a game. The player now claims that he never said it and Maxwell is breathing fire. Parker will need to find evidence of Maxwell's wrongdoing or pay up.
Penny heads to the ski lodge on her own--only to find mysteries waiting for her. Maxwell shows up and seems to be in some sort of dealings with Ralph Fergus, another hotel man who owns the Fergus Hotel--a rival establishment to the Downey Lodge where Penny is staying. It looks like Fergus and Maxwell is trying to run Mrs. Downey out of business--but why? Penny discovers that Fergus's hotel has a mysterious Green Room where only those with an invitation can go. She's sure it has something to do with the shady business going on. And then a woman she met on the flight up to Pine Top suddenly acquires a new mink coat and indicates that she could get one for Penny too--at a very cheap price. It isn't long before Penny figures out the connection between all the mysteries and scoops a rival reporter from another newspaper in the process.
Notes while reading:
Fellow Vintage Children's Series lovers in our Facebook group have long praised Mildred A. Wirt's Penny Parker series. In some cases, folks have said they're better than Nancy Drew. So, when our local community book sale had several of the books on offer (in really good condition!) a few years ago I snapped them up. I'm just now sitting down to read my first one and I have to say...I find Penny annoying. The book starts with her hotdogging in her new snowsuit ("skiing" on an area rug in the hall) and wanting the Parker's housekeeper/cook Mrs. Weems to tell her how cute she looks in it. Then when her dad has to cancel his plans to join her on a skiing vacation because his newspaper is being sued for libel does she (as Nancy would) immediately decide to investigate on her own and dig up the truth to support the news story that has caused so much trouble for Mr. Parker.? No. Her first thought is that the vacation is being messed up. And then when she learns that the trial won't take place for a month, she's all "Don't you think you could take two weeks off anyhow, Dad?" [Like he shouldn't use all the time between now and the trial to dig up corroborating evidence that the story was true?] So, I'm afraid Penny and I haven't gotten off on the best of starts....
Okay, after the bumpy introduction, Penny and I got along better. Once she actually started investigating things up at the lodge (and how about that coincidence where the evil man suing her dad is also doing bad things up on the mountain where she's spending her vacation), I enjoyed the story a lot more. Very Nancy Drew-like--but given that Wirt wrote a great many of the ND stories, that's not surprising. I can't say that I liked it as much as I like Nancy, but it was an enjoyable afternoon's read. ★★★
First lines: "Watch me coming down the mountain, Mrs. Weems! This one is a honey!"
Last lines: PRESSES ROLLING. FIRST EDITION ON THE STREET AHEAD OF THE RECORD. THE STAR SCORES AGAIN. THIS IS ANTHONY PARKER SIGNING OFF FOR A CUP OF COFFEE.